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The cleaning and hygiene sector saw a massive change in public attitudes during the pandemic - putting it at the top of the agenda and bringing widespread recognition for the vital work of the sector’s previously invisible workforce. That work continues.
A survey commissioned last Autumn by Pelsis Group found that 87 per cent of people think the hygiene of the places they visit is more important to them than before the start of the pandemic. The Pelsis survey found that 88 per cent want to see UK businesses and organisations implement stringent hygiene measures, while more than 80 per cent of those surveyed said that the hygiene of the space was very or quite important when visiting communal premises, such as offices, cinemas, restaurants, bars or shopping centres.
This greater emphasis on maintaining stringent hygiene protocols has led to a massive change in cleaning regimes. BCC Chairman Jim Melvin says there has been: “A significant shift in clients having a day-time presence on site to perform and be seen to perform disinfection and sanitisation programmes that help to increase the confidence of the client’s workforce.”
Lorraine Davis, Mitie’s Director of Cleaning Services agrees and advises that suppliers have a responsibility to continuously review and adapt cleaning regimes to ensure that as buildings’ occupancy rates change, high cleaning standards are maintained and people are kept safe.
She advises that as no two businesses – or even two buildings are the same – all cleaning providers must start by carrying out a risk assessment to get a clear picture of the sites’ expected occupancy rates as well as activities or areas which may need additional attention, such as touch point areas, door handles, stair rails and lift call buttons. Having a clear picture will enable providers to identify the most effective cleaning solutions such as re-organising shifts to ensure surfaces and critical areas are regularly cleaned, using antiviral mists every day or deep cleaning at
“Technology and innovation can play a vital role in maintaining high standards too” she adds. “There are a range of technology solutions that cleaning providers can use to complement the more ‘traditional’ cleaning practices. For example, autonomous robot vacuum cleaners can be used to clean floors while cleaning colleagues focus on more complex tasks like disinfecting touch points and other critical areas. Meanwhile, disinfection systems that use UV light can be used to significantly reduce virus and bacteria from indoor air and surfaces, limiting the spread of infection.”
Melvin says that the adoption of digital technology will be absolutely vital both in terms of continued disinfection and sanitisation and the scientific confirmation of clean. He says many manufacturers have already come forward with both manual and robotic/cobotic innovations in relation to cleaning and disinfection programmes and there are huge number of apps, sanitisation sprays and products and digital sensors to again assist in the verification of clean in order to increase confidence.
For Mitie’s healthcare clients, digital technologies, such as facilities management apps can be deployed to quickly locate the nearest colleagues on-site to help with an issue so, as an example, a spillage can be mopped up as swiftly as possible, often with the use of the latest in robotics, such as autonomous scrubber-driers to clean floors.
These solutions have not only freed-up people’s time so that they can focus on disinfecting touch points and critical areas but, with the robots designed to use less water and energy than traditional machines, it’s also helping the NHS achieve its net zero goal.
Melvin predicts these innovations exemplify the contribution the sector has and will keep making to society: “Throughout the pandemic, I do not believe that the cleaning and hygiene supply chain have been given enough credit for both the speed and level of innovation that they have brought to the workplace to assist the industry.”
Wtitten by Sara Bean, Editor of FMJ. More on this topic here: www.fmj.co.uk/visibly-clean/