“Poor janitorial service” and “poor indoor air quality” are two of the top 10 office complaints according to an International Facility Management Association (IFMA) member survey.

Cleanliness complaints ranked third and poor IAQ ranked sixth. The most common complaint facility professionals report hearing from upper management is the cost of facility operations, IFMA reports.

The 2003 Corporate Facility Monitor survey, sent to 2,400 IFMA members in May, yielded a 14.2 percent response rate. Most respondents manage facilities with more than 100 employees.

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Study pinpoints individuals with asthma attributed to workplace
cleaning-product exposure

Most individuals with work-related asthma are Caucasian women, ages 45 years and older, according to a May 2003 report from the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Medical experts conducted the study to pinpoint the characteristics of individuals in California, Massachusetts, Michigan and New Jersey with work-related asthma associated with exposure to cleaning products.

From 1993 to 1997, 236 (12 percent) of the 1,915 confirmed cases of work-related asthma identified by the four states were associated with exposure to cleaning products. Eighty percent of the reports represented new-onset asthma and 20 percent were work-aggravated asthma.

Individuals identified were generally women (75 percent), white non-Hispanic (68 percent) and 45 years old or older (64 percent). Most likely exposure had been in medical settings (39 percent), schools (13 percent) or hotels (6 percent). Individuals identified were most likely to work as janitors/cleaning staff (22 percent), nurses/nurses’ aides (20 percent) or clerical staff (13 percent). Cases reported reflected an exposure to cleaning products across a wide range of job titles.

The full report: May 2003, Volume 45, Issue 5, p. 556 Cleaning Products and Work-Related Asthma

ISSA explores possible end-user membership

The International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA) is surveying its members about opening ISSA membership to facility service providers, in-house cleaning professionals and building service contractors.

The 4,600-member organization of distributors, manufacturers and their sales representatives opened its trade show and convention to end users in 1999.

In order to add in-house cleaning professionals and other end users, ISSA must get membership approval to change its bylaws. No vote has been scheduled yet.

ISSA hopes to create a more unified cleaning industry with by including end users as members.

More information.

Housekeepers Week: Sept. 14-20

Don’t forget to show your appreciation and thanks to cleaning staffs during International Housekeepers Week in September.

The observance began in 1981 by declaration of the International Executive Housekeepers Association (IEHA) to demonstrate appreciation and esteem for housekeepers and the service they offer.

Send your fellow cleaning professionals an electronic appreciation greeting card — or reward them with a gift from the IEHA International Housekeepers Week catalog.

We are ‘Not Just Housekeepers’

I read your article in the June 2003 issue of Housekeeping Solutions entitled, "Preventive Medicine." I found many excellent and strong points supporting the fact that environmental services employees are not here as just housekeepers. We are the very foundation for infection control in any health care facility. It is essentially up to the housekeeper to make the first impression in support of the clinical community in any hospital. I do agree that people, products and process is where the spread stops.

Most ES departments miss the importance of getting employees to buy into the fact that they are more than housekeepers. ES employees must be taught to understand the impact of their responsible position upon the entire facility, the patients, families and community they serve. All of the procedures talked about in the article are excellent. These procedures, however, are only as effective as the employee using them. Therefore, ES departments must take training, cleaning and infection control issues to a higher level.

I would like to ask about the "protective equipment" discussion concerning gloves. I believe that disposable gloves are not appropriate for ES workers to be using. It is an OSHA concern that due to the type of chemicals used, there is the possibility of strike-through when using disposable gloves. A utility glove, nytrile, is recommended.

Thank you for an excellent article. Hopefully, administrators will realize that cutting costs in an area such as this can prove to be a disaster.

— Linda Berk, Director of Environmental/Linen Services
William W. Backus Hospital Norwich, Conn.

Editor’s note: Nitrile gloves provide a protective barrier for cleaning when there is potential for contact with sharp objects or harmful chemicals. However, for routine cleaning, environmental services managers might find disposable gloves are more affordable and just as effective.