Training and career development are crucial in any professional company or organization that seeks to progress within its industry sector. The term training simply refers to the process of acquiring the necessary skills required for a certain job. It targets specific goals, for example understanding a process and operating a certain machine, system or set of tools.

The need for training in the cleaning industry

In order to highlight the need for training within the cleaning industry further, BICSc invites you to take a look at the Institute’s mission statement. BICSc believe that education and accredited training by a trusted awarding body is imperative for:
•    Protecting the cleaning operative
•    Providing a clean and safe environment
•    Preserving assets
•    Promoting sustainability
•    Producing best practice

Protecting the cleaning operative

Cleaning operatives are regularly exposed to a number of activities that may be hazardous to their health. Without adequate training, these can become high-risk activities. Tasks such as handling potentially dangerous chemicals, exposure to dangerous or sharp items, exposure to infections, walking on wet and slippery floors, climbing or stretching to reach high/ low areas and frequent repetitive movements that can be damaging to the body, are just a few of the tasks that cleaning operatives can be faced with on a daily basis. It is therefore vital that sufficient support is provided to enable cleaning operatives to work safely, limiting the potential for harm not only to themselves, but to others that may be using the cleaned facility.

The responsibility of employers

Bearing the potential hazards in mind, it’s alarming to think that there are employers who continue to neglect and provide their cleaning operatives with the proper education and standardized skills training that they require when performing their duties safely.

Responsible organizations that look after their cleaning operative’s needs, not only fulfill their corporate social responsibility quota for their staff, but also protect themselves legally in the event of an unfortunate incident or accident occurring. Protecting the health and safety of the cleaning operative is a cause that the Institute feels extremely strongly about, we strive to build awareness amongst cleaning operatives and organizations alike via our marketing campaigns and our internationally renowned best practice cleaning standards.

Making the health and safety of cleaning operatives a mandatory requirement

BICSc best practice standards are detailed within the Institute’s Cleaning Professional’s Skills Suite (CPSS 2.0). The successful License to Practice (PBICSc) qualification is the first qualification that a BICSc learner will undertake on their learner journey. It covers the health and safety aspects involved with undertaking various cleaning tasks. This section of the suite is mandatory, meaning that no cleaning operative can commence undertaking any of the subsequent skills without successfully completing their License to Practice (PBICSc) assessment.

On successful completion of this assessment the cleaning operative will receive a photographic card to show that they have achieved the necessary standard to perform cleaning tasks safely.

The License to Practice (PBICSc) assessment supports cleaning operatives by providing them with the knowledge required to work safely whilst performing cleaning tasks. This limits the potential for damage or risk to the cleaning operative. This qualification promotes the importance of some of the following areas:
•    Using personal protective equipment (PPE)
•    Correct procedures for using warning signs
•    Correct measuring dosing and dilution of chemicals
•    First aid measures
•    Cross contamination and color coding
•    Infection control
•    Safe disposal
•    Safe use and care of equipment
•    Hand hygiene
•    Health and safety procedures
•    Storing equipment correctly and safely

Operatives are then free to move on from proficient (PBICSc) skills to learn further skills known as competent skills (CBICSc). These are available from the recently updated Cleaning Professionals Skills Suite (CPSS 2.0).
Providing a clean and safe environment

The earlier points address the safety of the cleaning operative but another primary concern for BICSc is the safety of the users of the cleaned facility. As with the safety of the operative, training ensures that the environment is free from hazards and reduces the risk of infections that could be potentially harmful to the individual or others using the facility. Knowledge of infection control and hygienic cleaning methods are vital to ensure an environment is clean and safe, unfortunately this is something that cannot be achieved by poorly trained cleaning operatives.

Appropriate skills training provide the cleaning operative with a clear idea of the desired final cleaning outcome. This ensures that the surface is continuously cleaned to a high standard and gives a clear indication of the expected standard. Standards required on completion of service delivery are set out in the BICSc Best Value document. This is designed to remove ambiguity from output-based specifications. Remember, an ambiguous view of the final cleaning outcome will always lead to inferior results.

Training reduces client dissatisfaction and eliminates the need for "rework" (and hidden costs associated with time originally spent on tasks or original materials and equipment costs), by addressing the most common reason for poor service delivery: - method failure or the application of incorrect techniques to the cleaning of elements within a facility.

Training provides support to the cleaning operative for dealing with difficult elements and finishes within a facility. CPSS 2.0 provides a variety of specific ‘pick and mix’ skills that provide the operative with the knowledge to ensure a consistent, high standard across cleaning tasks. This includes ensuring that the operative is using the right cleaning materials for the task in question.

The on-going protection of assets

The on-going protection of assets is an essential requirement of the built environment and one that extends beyond "hard" FM disciplines including maintenance of a facility's systems and external fabric, to cleaning and other "soft" services that focus on creating a pleasant indoor atmosphere for building occupants and visitors. Using the wrong choice of cleaning equipment or materials can damage the surface area; this can prove to be an expensive mistake. Whilst accidents do happen, cleaning operatives that have had the correct training provide a much lower risk solution.

Promoting sustainability

The sustainable business agenda has never been more important for both individuals and corporate organizations. The opportunities for those that understand sustainable practices and for organizations that take an expansive view of their role in the world have never been greater. BICSc provides learners with the opportunity to understand:
•    How to dispose of materials in line with environmental policy and procedure.
•    How to use dilution rates correctly: Correct application to ensure less chemical products is being used so surfaces will be less likely to be damaged.
•    Correct use and care will prolong the life span of equipment and materials meaning that fewer materials are used for creating new products.
•    The ability to correctly identify and segregate waste materials.

Producing best practice

BICSc are proud to be recognized for producing and promoting best practice for the cleaning industry for over 53 years. BICSc are continuously developing BICSc standards to reflect changes in the industry and the needs of the cleaning operative.

BICSc recently announced the latest update to the internationally recognized qualification, The Cleaning Professional’s Skills Suite (CPSS 2.0). Certain skills from the original CPSS have been removed completely whilst other new skills that are now a requirement within the industry have been included.

Head of Education and Standards Maureen Kelso commented on the update "CPSS 2.0 has been written taking into account practices in the cleaning industry that have changed overtime reflecting both the cleaning skill and the cleaning operative. The changes are based on health and safety and best practice which are reflected in how we should be carrying out the skills with the welfare and safety of the cleaning operative and others being the main concern as well as the preservation of assets."

Opportunity within the cleaning industry

The cleaning industry is worth over 10.5 billion pounds and holds a mass of opportunities for those that are willing to invest in developing themselves, their organizations and their staff through standardized education and appropriate accredited training. Effective training for cleaning operatives and supervisors alongside skills refreshment are essential to progressing within the cleaning industry, particularly as agreed standards of service delivery are a pre-requirement of successful contract fulfillment.