The vital role cleaning plays in maintaining public hygiene was highlighted at the World Federation of Building Service Contractors 2011 Congress. A number of leading BSC executives explained how our industry can capitalise by ensuring it’s on the front line in combating pandemics and hospital acquired infections.
The WFBSC 2011 Congress, which was held in Auckland early February, included a lengthy panel discussion on ‘Cleaning as the Life Saver’. On that panel, which led public forum discussion, were OCS chief executive Chris Cracknell, Gali Service Industries president LeRoy Dock and WFBSC executive vice president and CSSA executive director Andrew Large.
Large set the panel seminar theme with a quote by past Philippine president Gloria Arroyo who stated, “Cleanliness is health, and health is the wealth of a strong republic”.
In the event of a pandemic, what can the cleaning industry do? asked Large. “Get in early; take the position of an infection control expert; and provide information on what can and cannot be achieved,” Large emphasised.
There should be a focus on benefits to clients such as reduced staff absences, supply chain continuity, footfall resilience and managements’ reputations.
BSCs’ ongoing involvement should be in washroom design and sanitation; supply of tissues and sanitisers; management of cleaning processes; maintenance of infection control practices; and the adoption of HACCP principles in dealing with sites.
Dock spoke about his company’s experiences in operating during pandemics and stressed the need to care for cleaning employees.
He noted during these difficult days and weeks, BSCs’ resources are minimised and their own people are ill. “Protecting our employees comes first, then securing sanitation supplies and implementing policies for preventing the spread of disease.
“We need to assure our clients that we have a plan!”
Gali Service Industries has a particular interest in airport sites and Dock talked about their complexity and the need for special protocols… very interesting content.
“The public will look to us (when the next pandemic hits, and it will) and our people have to feel comfortable going into those affected public places,” Dock said. “That means we need to train, train and train.”
For Cracknell, the 2009 pandemic was a great opportunity missed by the cleaning industry.
“Clients expected the cheapest labour, the invisible workforce, to turn up and clean up infected sites for no more dollars.
“That’s because of the image we have portrayed,” said Cracknell. He believes the cleaning industry needs to build a more valued image of itself. “Create and demonstrate a value to society… perhaps we need to create a more dramatic image along the lines of ‘we provide an infection-free environment’.”
Cracknell pointed to the need for the WFBSC to build relationships with international bodies such as WHO and the Centers for Disease Control. “Our local associations can do something in their regions,” he added. www.cdc.gov
Positive input from the floor
*A Japanese spokesperson reported that the Japanese cleaning industry and its Japan Building Maintenance Association have been very pro-active in holding public flu seminars covering various issues including the economic implications of shut-down CBDs and (cleaning) contractual issues. The JBMA has a public communication campaign that tells people what its role is.
*A Brazilian delegate affirmed that airports are the most dangerous sites to clean. He also described the impressive training school (3000 sq m and delivering 42 courses) built with local business and government money in Curitiba, locale of the WFBSC 2012 Congress.
*One delegate noted that since the last pandemic hand washing by men had dropped back by 50 percent and that ‘we need to get back to basics and educate the public’.
*Auckland-based government accredited distributor Ian Jemmett said it was imperative that international standardisation of products be implemented, observing that some high profile brand hand sanitisers do not meet specification.
*Karcher’s deputy CEO Markus Asch pointed out that ‘cleaning is in the top two of a human’s needs’. “Why do we accept low prices and poor quality?” he asked the conference room.