Buildings should be cleaned to a standard that is safe and hygienic for all users, but for schools and educational establishments, it is particularly important, says BICS.
Schools can only function properly if they are clean and hygienic, and the cleaning industry, from product manufacturers to cleaning contractors, has made huge improvements in service delivery in recent years, which has made them safer still. New technology has played a big part in this, with, for instance, the introduction of greener cleaning products. Professional training for cleaning operatives means they are able to work safely and efficiently during the day whilst the building is in full use.
The growth of accredited training for cleaning operatives has been particularly important, as the task of keeping a fully functioning school clean throughout the day is too important to be left to untrained staff.
Accredited training provides cleaning operatives with the essential skills in areas like colour coding and best practices, such as working from ‘clean to dirty’ to minimise the risk of cross infection.
One of the biggest challenges for cleaning contractors has been to persuade schools to introduce new working practices, such as daytime cleaning. Long held prejudices about the role of a ‘cleaner’ have had to be dispelled. But when schools see how beneficial the changes can be, then they usually embrace the new methods wholeheartedly. The advent of daytime cleaning has also been made possible with the help of a number of technological advancements; not least the introduction of microfibre cloths and mops.
They make it possible to clean hard surfaces like floors and stairs without the use of chemicals. It is a cheaper and more sustainable way of working, and also much safer, as it means dangerous chemicals do not need to be brought into the working area.
Daytime cleaning Daytime cleaning is now used widely across all business sectors, but it is especially useful for schools, with so many young people moving around the building, it ensures it is cleaned at optimal times, reducing the risk of infections spreading.
Building managers also like daytime cleaning as it means the building can be powered down at night and weekends, bringing big cost savings.
Having the cleaning team visible can also help keep the building tidy, as users are more likely to be aware of things like personal litter if they’re familiar with the cleaning operatives.
The use of less toxic cleaning products also brings tangible benefits. Students’ concentration levels are better when the indoor air quality is good, and there is less absenteeism because of illnesses such as asthma.
Sustainability rewards There is now much more focus for all businesses to consider safety and sustainability as inextricably linked, and the cleaning industry is no exception. Becoming more sustainable brings genuine rewards with improved quality and reduced costs.
With the indoor air quality as just one example, it shows that thinking in a sustainable way can not only reduce operating costs, it also enhances health, promotes wellness, and does, critically, also boost productivity in pupils and staff.
Schools and educational establishments across the world now accept the enormous health benefits that come with this new approach. Manufacturers have played, and will continue to play, a big part in this with innovations like microfibre clothes and mops, scrubber dryers, silent cordless vacuums, and the vast array of green non‑toxic cleaning solutions that come onto the market daily.
Safety and hygiene has also been improved more generally by greater public awareness, in areas like hand hygiene for instance. But the professionalisation of the work force, the people who clean our buildings day in day out shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s their skills, knowledge and competence every single day that make our schools and collages safe places to work and learn in.
Science Minister Chris Skidmore spoke at the BETT Show, reiterating the government's commitment to education technology and working with industry to create solutions that address some of the challenges in education.