Category Archives: Cleaning Audits

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Office Cleaning and Corona virus

There is a lot of misinformation regarding cleaning requirements in office areas to prevent the spread of COVID-19 Corona virus.  Some cleaning companies are using this as a reason to push clients into paying for extra services that they don’t need or would have little or any effect preventing spread in a Corona virus outbreak.  One recent example is where a contract cleaning manager told a major client that they would have to spend a lot of money so they could buy in special disinfectants and recommended that the client have their carpets and all office chairs ‘steam’ cleaned as part of their response.

When provided with information by a contract cleaning manager, check their credentials and their qualifications in virology and infection control and ask for references from public health authorities and World Health publications that back up their claims and their proposed methodologies.

The best course of action is for the client to go to those authorities first, research the facts, the risks and the required practices to minimise risks of transmission of this disease.  Once the correct procedures are established, review your scope for cleaning services to ensure that the cleaning requirements are adequate and appropriate for a public health alert.   All public health authorities recommend regular and thorough cleaning of high touch surfaces (e.g. doors, handles, hand rails, taps, keyboards etc) combined with hand hygiene procedures as applicable for COVID-19 in public settings.

A review of the cleaning scope for your building should include a review of and ongoing audits of cleaning methodologies and cleaning hygiene practices.  FM Contact Solutions regularly audits cleaning practices in commercial buildings and finds consistent failings that expose clients and building workers to unnecessary public health risks.

Issues to look for include, but are not limited to

  • Cleaning practice – do the cleaners in your building work from clean to dirty surfaces or from dirty to clean?  It is not uncommon to find toilets being cleaned first before moving to other areas.
  • Adherence to colour coding – many contractors input implement colour coding but don’t include proper training and supervision. Examples include cleaning toilets with a red cloth and then cleaning kitchens with the same cloth.
  • Cleaning cloth hygiene
    Microfibre cleaning cloths should be laundered daily according to colour and dried using a commercial dryer. Dirty and damaged cloths should be disposed of.

    Dirty cleaning cloths and cross contamination of cleaning cloths are major hygiene risks

    • How many cleaning cloths of each colour are issued to each cleaner and how frequently are cloths changed when cleaning surfaces?
    • Are cleaning cloths changed when moving from one area to another?
    • Are clean clothes being laundered in a washing machine and commercial dryer or simply rinsed out and left to dry on their cleaning trolleys overnight?
    • Are cloths laundered separately according to colour code in a washing machine and dried in a commercial dryer?
    • Are different coloured cleaning cloths in contact with each other?
    • Are used cloths in contact with clean cloths?
  • Hand hygiene
    • Do your cleaners wear gloves and do they change their gloves frequently during each shift e.g. when moving from area to area?
    • Do your cleaners wash their hands frequently and thoroughly before starting work, between sections, before and after breaks and eating food, after visiting or cleaning toilets and before they go home?
    • Do daytime housekeepers change their gloves and wash their hands before handling clean crockery and cutlery and moving to a new kitchen?
    • Are there dedicated daytime housekeepers to handle to rubbish and clean toilets?  
    • Do your housekeepers clean staff kitchens after moving rubbish or cleaning toilets?
    • Are refillable soap dispensers in toilets and kitchens contaminated with bacteria? (Hint: Look for an odour, discolouration, scum, and product preparation in the dispenser.)
Refilllable handsoap dispensers can become contaminated with bacteria

Refillable hand soap dispensers are often contaminated with harmful bacteria

High Touch surfaces

    • Does your cleaning scope require daily cleaning of high touch surfaces?
    • Are these surfaces actually being cleaned every night?
    • Are the cleaning processes appropriate or do they simply spread dirt and contaminants from one surface to another?
  • Cleaning equipment and cleaning trolleys used to transport cleaning chemicals and cleaning cloths around the building
    • Are cleaning trolleys clean and free of dust and contaminants?
    • Are used cleaning cloths in contact with surfaces on the cleaning trolley?
    • does your service provider require cleaners to follow a nightly clean of equipment after each shift? is there a documented procedure in their building operations manual and daily cleaning task lists?
    • Are vacuums fitted with HEPA filtration to minimise the spread of contaminants through the building HVac system?
  • Cleaning storage areas- The condition of equipment and the cleanliness of cleaning storage areas provides a snapshot into the professionalism of a contractor and their adherence to basic hygiene practices.  Clients should regularly inspect cleaning storage areas to ensure that Hygiene requirements are strictly followed.  Storage areas and all equipment should be clean and neatly stored.  There should be no cleaning cloths hanging on lines or draped over trolleys or buckets and the floor and all surfaces should be clean and dust free.

There are many science-based reference documents prepared by federal and state health authorities and qualified practitioners available to help facility managers and company managers develop strategies to minimise risk of outbreaks and transmission of Covid-19 in their facilities.

Here are some useful links-

Cleaning is essential public health, and along with hand hygiene is a key factor in minimising the risk of transmission of diseases like Carona virus.  Cleaning contractors however are not necessarily experts in public health and the effectiveness of cleaning is limited by the scope of works provided to the contractor and the lack of ongoing audits of cleaning effectiveness and cleaning hygiene systems by the client.

Cleaning strategies to reduce risks of transmission it should be researched by the client and implemented and monitored in conjunction with the cleaning contractor.

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Auditing Cleaning to determine value for money

FM Contract Solutions have a national team of expert cleaning consultants auditing cleaning1-10 Audit Scale in commercial facilities. Professional cleaning audits provide a real-time snapshot of actual levels of service delivery and quickly determine value for money. External audit services also often expose risks to building owners and users including incorrect storage of hazardous chemicals, non-compliance with OH&S requirements, test & tag issues and illegal subcontracting.

The most common way of auditing commercial cleaning is visual standard auditing. Cleaning is often complained about but rarely are complaints quantified on a realistic performance rating scale.  Consequently, when cleaning is audited, the performance criteria is often subjective and potentially adversarial, while the outcomes can be manipulated by either the service provider or the customer to provide predetermined ratings rather than a realistic performance appraisal.

It is critical that facility Cleaning contracts have clearly defined performance measures and a service delivery rating system that is easy to understand, that defines a high but achievable performance standard and that audits are conducted regularly to ensure consistent performance and value for money from service delivery.

The first step to a fair and realistic cleaning auditing system is to develop and implement a detailed cleaning scope which includes the tasks and the frequency and also a concise descriptions of expected outcomes for each task (Key Performance Measure or KPM). This removes much of the subjectivity as there is a clear description of the standards that are expected with the contract.

To read more on auditing cleaning please click on this link to Brian Clark’s article on Linkedin..

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What is Contract Performance Management?

Contract Performance Management is good news for property owners and managers and for the cleaning industry. When properly instigated, it provides sustainable contracts with measurable deliverables and  a level playing field for service providers as it spells out and measures the expectations and required delivery standards over the life of a cleaning contract.

There’s an old saying that you can’t manage what you can’t measure, but how do you measure an intangible service, such as cleaning? Risk mitigation has fuelled a need for accountability and transparency of building service contracts and facility managers are now demanding to know what actually goes on in cleaning operations.

Performance management incorporates the introduction of exacting specifications for cleaning coupled with key performance measures (KPMs) for tasks, equipment, environmental performance, safety and training which, in turn, are audited to provide measurement through key performance indicators (KPIs). This ensures that there is a framework in place that accurately describes the work to be performed and how outcomes will be measured and quantified.

The team at FM Contract Solutions has developed and introduced comprehensive contract performance management systems and Performance management and Cleaning auditing Software that allow Facility Managers to monitor all aspects of Contract Service Delivery and ensure that contractors adequately address OH&S, risk management, environmental impact and sustainable work practices in line with sustainable purchasing guidelines. While some contractors may resist it, a more prescriptive approach will provide measurable outcomes and provide sustainable contracts that could mean the end of the industry price spiral.

FM Contract Solutions provides the tools to monitor contracts and engineers contract specifications with comprehensive descriptions of the services to be delivered and key performance drivers which enables clients to identify and correct inefficiencies, determine if adequate labour is being provided to perform the work and ensure maximum life of assets by accurately specifying the tasks and frequencies that are performed relative to the needs of the client, building use and floor-covering manufacturers’ recommendations.

Performance management systems that include electronic compliance monitoring and external auditing can also provide contractor performance benchmarking which can be compared to similar properties and contracts.

The upside for the industry is that the focus shifts away from lowest price to quality of service and value-for-money while the increased awareness of risk and the requirement for well documented and more transparent processes helps facilitate a non-adversarial relationship between building management and contractor. Rewards, such as contract extensions and better management practices which will flow through into other contracts, will make for more profitable and sustainable industry with longer contracts, sustainable business practices, sustainable workplaces and the elimination of illegal subcontracting.

Pricing and profitability of contract cleaning services constantly being driven downwards, yet dissatisfaction with cleaning has risen dramatically along with a rapidly declining perception of the professionalism and integrity of the industry.

The cleaning industry is an industry that needs change, but that change will not come from within. The adoption of contract performance management practices will certainly drive that change – change that is sorely needed for the betterment of the industry.