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The Philosophy of Cleaning
Organizations often develop philosophies to identify key principles that will help them successfully carry out their mission.
When we founded Janitor University 11 years ago, we felt that it was important to establish a fundamental cleaning philosophy that would not only be the core of our teachings, but to aid in the advancement of the cleaning industry. In the past 10 years or so, the “philosophy of cleaning” has become the modus operandi for hundreds of organizations. By using the philosophy of cleaning, you may be able to greatly improve your practices.
Clean for health first, then appearance. It is quite possible for facilities to have a clean appearance, but be totally unhealthy. When we clean for health, we are helping eliminate bacteria, lung-damaging particles, and the spread of other harmful materials. That is why I don’t like white-glove inspections — they do not demonstrate the health of a building. While appearance is important, a building’s health has a lot more impact on its occupants.
Treat workers as first-class citizens. Supplying workers with the best tools, quality training and the safest practices is an important part of running an operation. By making the commitment to proper training and providing the right tools, managers send a positive message to their crews. Managers will help create worker pride and enhance the professional image of crews.
Simplify, simplify. It’s simple to make things complicated, but it’s complicated to make things simple. Never underestimate the importance of a simplified cleaning operation. If you take a look in your closets or carts and find that your workers have three different types of tools for the same function, your operation isn’t simplified. Take steps to universalize products and equipment and training programs. Also, identify the best practices in your operations. Simplify your processes and standardize your operation. It will help eliminate the amount of “firefighting” in your operation.
Utilize the Clean Syndrome. The Clean Syndrome in a building is a unique phenomenon. If your cleaning operation is visible to building occupants, and the facility is spotless on a daily basis, it stays clean. The occupants of a building are very aware of a facility’s cleanliness. If they sense that the cleaning operation is truly serving its function, they will almost always police the building’s cleanliness. However, if the building is a mess, it will stay a mess — or perhaps even become worse.
Go beyond compliance on safety regulations. According to labor statistics, cleaning workers are the fifth most injured workers on the job. Absenteeism and compensation due to injury is costly. Your material safety data sheets (MSDS) program should go beyond compliance with U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) regulations. Make sure crews know where the MSDS are located and train them on how to use them.
Minimize environmental harm. This has been called green, blue and brown cleaning. Much of the green-cleaning issue has seemingly orbited around low-impact products. It also is important to employ low-impact practices that reduce chemical usage, minimize landfill space, and preserve the indoor as well as outdoor environment.
Exceed expectations. It is important to understand the expectations of building occupants, cleaning crews and the organization’s management. Map out the expectations of the organization. Set realistic goals, and exceed the expectations. You will bolster worker pride, make your department more visible, and demonstrate to everyone that you want to deliver the best possible product.
John P.Walker is the owner of ManageMen consulting services in Salt Lake City. He also is the founder of Janitor University, a hands-on cleaning management training program.
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