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December 2013 Cover Story

Looking To The New Year

Industry professionals point to the most important issues for 2014.

December 09, 2013
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Hope springs eternal, as the old saying goes, and never does that seem more applicable than at the beginning of a new year.

Around the world, parties and social gatherings have become the norm for New Year’s Eve.

For one night, friends and family gather to celebrate and toast both the year ending and the promise of the year ahead.

In the cleaning and maintenance market, in-house facility managers and building service contractors (BSCs) can further toast the idea of leaving last year’s challenges behind.

By learning from the previous year’s obstacles and looking ahead to new opportunities, managers and contractors can plan and prepare for continued operational improvements.

Outside of the cleaning and maintenance market, there are already plenty of governmental and legislative changes lined up for 2014.

The Affordable Care Act is a high-profile example, and changes involving other agencies like OSHA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can be included as well.

Inside the JanSan industry, change will come as the market’s evolution continues increasing the overall professionalism and awareness of cleaning issues.

Are you and your employees aware of the most recent developments from prominent researchers and JanSan associations occurring in our industry?

Moreover, how will these movements and trends play out?

And, how will they affect your business or operation?

To help divine the answers, CMM reached out to managers, contractors and other industry sources for their professional opinions.

Their replies revealed a number of prominent issues including updated industry standards, facility safety concerns and the need for worker training.

Based on their feedback, it is clear that cleaning managers and professionals should stand ready to address different areas moving forward.

The ISSA Clean Standard: K-12

The ISSA released its first Clean Standard for K-12 schools last October.

At that time, John Garfinkel, ISSA’s executive director said, “ISSA is pleased to launch yet another tool that supports our overall goal of changing the way the world views cleaning.”

He continued, “In the face of difficult budget cuts and a misunderstanding of the importance cleaning has in the success of student education, our members and the schools they work with can use science to help make the case for proper cleaning.”

This standard was developed by a committee that included representation from all sectors of the facility management and school communities, and it was based on a philosophy of “Clean, Measure, Monitor.”

According to ISSA, the standard focuses on:

  • The desired levels of cleanliness that can reasonably be achieved;
  • Recommended monitoring and inspection procedures to measure the effectiveness of cleaning;
  • How to use the measurement and inspection results to assess and improve cleaning processes and products, ultimately resulting in a clean, healthy and safe learning environment.

Allen P. Rathey, president of The Healthy Facilities Institute (HFI), feels The ISSA Clean Standard, and the IEHA’s Integrated Cleaning and Measurement (ICM) program, are the two of the most important developments to hit the cleaning marketplace in decades.

ICM supports the Clean Standard, which sets specific measurement goals to achieve and outlines an acceptable target range for “clean,” according to Rathey.

“The ultimate goal is that we as an industry will be able to successfully connect measurable contaminant levels with measurable health outcomes and measurable fiscal impacts … so that cleaning will be evaluated and purchased based as much on health outcomes and real business impact, as it is now mostly based on whether or not the facility looks and smells clean for the lowest price possible.”

Kevin Harris, director of maintenance and operations for Clear Creek ISD in Texas, was one of the Clean Standard committee members.

Harris strongly agrees with the standard’s concept of cleaning and inspecting the entire school environment for safety and cleanliness, e.g., desks, fixtures, door knobs, air conditioner filters, vacuums, weatherproofing, roofing, etc.

Even so, the standard’s recommended cleaning and maintenance steps and measurement requirements will create funding and labor challenges in the overall K-12 market, Harris says.

For managers or contractors instituting the new standard in 2014, ISSA’s Clean Standard: K-12 website includes a number of informative documents, downloads and a frequently asked questions list.

Training In 2014

As more cleaning and maintenance operations continue the shift to a “cleaning for health” ethos, increased manager and employee training has become a necessity.

Luckily for facility managers and BSCs, training and educational information is offered by a number of active industry groups and resources.

Training operations like the Cleaning Management Institute will offer classes across the United States in 2014.

And in addition to the ISSA, educational materials are available from a wide array of specialized industry groups and governmental entities, including:

  • IEHA
  • The American Cleaning Institute
  • OSHA
  • WHO
  • IICRC.

Facility managers, BSCs and other cleaning professionals agree that the continued need for training is an important issue that the JanSan industry must address in 2014.

“As an industry we have failed to invest significantly in the professional development of people,” Rathey states.

“Ultimately, we need standardized systems such as day, specialty and process cleaning for healthy environments, but if we do not learn to develop the inner resources of people — their hearts and minds ­­— we will end up with ‘cleaning factories’ and robot-like workers.”

According to Rathey, the future of our industry involves training that helps people implement the Clean Standard and outcome measurement, and supports the work of ISSA and IEHA.

Safer Facilities

One important subject that employee training can address is worker and occupant safety.

According to Matthew Kastel, manager of baseball operations and events for the Maryland Stadium Authority, anything related to worker or public safety will be a huge concern at his facilities in 2014.

“I believe we do a great job making sure all our systems are working safely and efficiently, but when it comes to the safety of our guests and workers you can never take anything for granted,” Kastel explains. 

Green products and cleaning processes have been shown to create safer environments for all parties involved, and Harris sees the developing benefits of green cleaning as possibly the biggest trend in the New Year.

“We have been ‘greening’ for quite some time, but we will continue ‘greening’ due to ‘realized benefits’ and cost reductions rather than waving the green flag for environmental reasons alone,” Harris notes.

“We did the right thing in the beginning, and we are realizing labor, chemical, water savings and quality improvements because of it,” he continues.

Harris provides a few examples, including:

  • Polishing concrete and terrazzo instead of refinishing.
  • Switching to a high-quality, water-based gym floor finish.
  • Scheduling “gang” cleaning in the summer to allow building hibernation.
  • Encapsulation carpet cleaning.
  • Passing over disinfectants when cleaning desks, door knobs, counters, etc.

Overall, these green changes have not only improved worker, occupant and facility safety, they also have reduced chemical and labor costs, increased energy savings and lowered water usage.

Outsourcing Continues

Finally, one labor issue that Kevin Keeler, founder of Keeler Consulting, sees as the most disconcerting industry trend is the movement from in-staff cleaning personnel to contracted cleaners.

While the cost savings for utilizing a contracted cleaning provider is undeniable for many, Keeler thinks there are other factors to consider.

“The foremost is a sense of duty that comes with ownership,” he states. “Whether it is managers or cleaners, my experience shows that when people feel ownership of a building and loyalty to the occupants, their level of commitment is reflected in their performance.”

In cleaning environments where the staff and customers are constant — schools, colleges and universities — this sense of ownership is extremely important.

“While there is an added cost with in-staff cleaning, the investment results in higher customer satisfaction, and the return on investment that results from it,” Keeler concludes.

Though no one can predict the curves and swerves that 2014 may bring, preparation and planning can help in-house facility managers and BSCs improve their operations in numerous ways over the next 12 months.

From studying up on the Clean Standard to researching safety steps, motivated and involved cleaning professionals can benefit their facilities and occupants in the upcoming year.

While anticipation and planning are considered best practices, education and industry awareness is ongoing, so be sure to read Cleaning & Maintenance Management and CMMOnline.com throughout 2014 to stay current on the developments discussed in this article.

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