One of the biggest challenges school facility managers and custodians face is how to contain disease outbreaks while remaining faithful to a green cleaning initiative. “People find it hard to figure out how green cleaning and infection control go together,” says Mark Warner, a master trainer with ISSA’s Cleaning Management Institute (CMI). “They mistakenly think green cleaning initiatives can’t use disinfectants.”
Another misconception is that green cleaning initiatives are more expensive than standard cleaning procedures. Warner says that although some green products may be more expensive than regular products, they save costs in the long run. “Embracing green cleaning best practices will not only make your schools healthier; it will save money based on the value of clean. Your school will see a reduction in absenteeism and an increase in productivity,” Warner says. “Saving money by using cheaper products is a curse as they end up not doing a good job.”
Warner is knowledgeable of both cleaning products and disinfection techniques, having served as director of training and product manager for disinfectants for Enviro-Solutions in Peterborough, Canada. In addition, he has been an ISSA Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) Certified Expert since the program’s inception. During ISSA Show North America 2018 in Dallas, TX, Warner will serve on a panel of green cleaning experts who will explain how schools can adjust their cleaning practices to kill disease-causing germs from surfaces without compromising their commitment to environmental standards.
“Panelists will help course participants go through a decision-making matrix to help them determine when schools should stick to their standard cleaning process and when they should step up to a more stringent cleaning process,” says Shari Solomon, president of CleanHealth Environmental in Silver Spring, MD, who will moderate the panel on Monday, October 29. “Participants will also learn how to communicate this decision to the community.”
Solomon’s company provides consulting and training in infection control and industrial hygiene to schools, health care facilities, and multifamily housing complexes. She represents the green cleaning schools program with the Healthy Schools Campaign.
According to Solomon, much of the confusion surrounding green cleaning efforts come from the fact that there are no disinfectants approved as green by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “There are disinfectants that are safer than others,” she says. “We can teach people to look beyond the parameters of the EPA to choose suitable products.”
Tip: Preventative measures are key
When a school facility manager heard that a neighboring school district had 2,500 students out sick due to a norovirus outbreak, that manager set up some preventative measures to make sure his school district wasn’t hit next. His efforts were a success, with only four students becoming ill. Paying extra attention to high-touch surfaces and promoting frequent handwashing are some preventative techniques your own facility can implement.
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