A Safety Checklist for Your Custodial Staff

custodianThe life of professional cleaner isn’t always an easy one. And though accidents can happen in almost any profession, custodial workers are more likely to be subjected to various physical and chemical hazards. These hazards can, and often do lead to injury and an increased risk of illness.

That being said, custodial safety should be a top concern for any employer.

Slips and falls can be caused by wet floors, uneven carpets, ladders and more. To prevent them, your custodial staff should:

  • Wear slip-resistant shoes
  • Keep an eye out for obstructions
  • Address spills immediately
  • Place hazard signs out before cleaning
  • Make sure floor mats lie flat

Cleaning chemicals can be extremely dangerous if the right precautions aren’t taken. To ensure the utmost safety, your cleaning staff should:

  • Always read their material safety data sheets (MSDS)
  • Make sure the area is well-ventilated before cleaning
  • Never mix chemicals unless instructed to do so
  • Wear appropriate safety equipment
  • Use green commercial cleaning products when possible

Heavy lifting and repetitive motions can result in back strains and injuries. To avoid strains and keep the muscles strong, your cleaning staff should:

  • Stretch before, during and after work
  • Take short breaks throughout the day
  • Understand proper lifting techniques
  • Ask for help when an item is too heavy

In addition to being trained in basic safety hazards, it’s important for your staff to have a thorough understanding of their specific working environment. Ultimately safety depends on your staff. Making sure they understand all of the ins and outs of your facility is the best way to protect them from injury.

Image Credit: Flickr

Commercial Cleaning Linked to Increased Risk of Asthma

asthmaProfessional cleaners have an increased risk of developing asthma. Though this may not be news to the commercial cleaning industry, longitudinal research has finally confirmed it.

Asthma, a chronic lung disease, is characterized by recurring periods of chest tightness, wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing. Though asthma can affect both children and adults alike, it is more frequently experienced during childhood. Adult onset asthma is typically related to environmental factors.

Study Design and Results

The study, published last month’s issue of Thorax – a leading respiratory medicine journal, followed roughly 9,500 UK natives born in 1958. Not including those with childhood onset, 9 percent of participants developed asthma by the time they turned 42.

Risks in the workplace were found to be responsible for one in six instances, which was surprisingly more than the one in nine cases attributed to chronic smoking.

According lead researcher Dr. Rebecca Ghosh of the MRC-HPA Centre for Environment and Health at Imperial College London, 18 occupations were clearly linked with an increased risk of asthma – and four of which were in the professional cleaning industry (and subsequently exposed to commercial cleaning products on a regular basis).

In addition to cleaning products, “flour, enzymes, metals, and textiles were among materials in the workplace identified in the study as being linked to asthma risk.”

The results of this study confirm that more must be done on behalf of employers to protect the long-term health of their employees.

“Occupational asthma is widely under-recognized by employers, employees and healthcare professionals,” said Ghosh. “Raising awareness that this is an almost entirely preventable disease would be a major step in reducing its incidence.”

Commercial Green Cleaning Products and Employee Health

Though the results of this study are certainly eye-opening, researchers agree that more study is needed to investigate the long-term health effects of green cleaning products.

“While the study did not note whether [the cleaning workers in the study] were using green or traditional cleaning products, we have known for more than two decades that exposure to cleaning chemicals on a regular basis can be a health hazard. This study now confirms this.”

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Janitorial Supplies: 3 Tips for Cutting Costs Not Corners

janitorial suppliesThese days just about every business owner is trying to cut costs. Unfortunately, cutting costs can easily snowball into cutting corners – especially for professional cleaners. And this challenge is becoming even more difficult as the total cost of janitorial supplies continues to rise across the globe.

So how can professional cleaners cut back on costs without comprising the health and safety of their facility? Check out our tips below!

1) Purchase Your Janitorial Supplies Online

Just like any other online shopping experience, purchasing janitorial products on the web is a great way to increase efficiency. You’ll have access to countless manufacturers, wholesale suppliers and big box stores – where you’ll then have the option to purchase all of your supplies in one fell swoop or pick-and-chose as you see economically fit. In some cases, you might also benefit from decreased costs. Most online stores have a lower overhead cost, which means you’ll also see a drop in your final bill.

2) Always Buy Products in Bulk

Assuming you have enough storage space handy, buying in bulk is by far one of the best ways to greatly reduce cost. Because they’ll be receiving a large influx of cash flow, most wholesalers are willing to give significant discounts on bulk orders. Never settle on the first bid though – shop around at different wholesalers to makes sure you’re getting the best prices possible.

3) Purchase Green Commercial Cleaning Products

While it’s not always possible to purchase all green cleaning products, you should when you can. The initial costs might seem higher, but in the long run you’ll save money in a number of ways:

  • First, green products use less packaging – which translates into lower shipping costs.
  • Second, environmentally-friendly cleaning products are non-toxic. As a result, professional cleaners are at a lower risk of work-related injuries (and subsequent workman’s comp).
  • Third, green cleaners are kinder to building surfaces. This means your facility will experience less wear and tear related to chemical cleaner exposure over time.

National Purity is a national leader in janitorial supplies. Contact us to learn more about our competitive prices and extensive product list.

Image Credit: Flickr

Reduce Chemical Cleaners and Increase Building Safety with Strategic Matting

building matsEntryway mats do more than just cover your floors. They absorb dirt and liquids as people enter and walk through your facility. This process not only keeps your floors clean, it reduces the risk of slip-and-fall injuries and decreases maintenance costs in the long run.

Think about all of the money you’re facility spends annually on chemical cleaners, mops, brooms, machines and labor. If you want to protect these investments, you’ve got to think strategically about floor matting.

We realize the idea of thinking ‘strategically about floor matting’ might sound silly at first, but check out the stats below:

  • When high traffic areas are left untouched, a square foot of carpet can easily accumulate one-pound of dirt per week (twice that in inclement weather).
  • ISSA estimates that the total cost of finding and removing one-pound of dirt will cost your payroll $600 on average.
  • According to the Institute of Industrial Launderers, 70-80% of dirt and grime is tracked indoors from the feet of individuals entering the building.
  • Without proper matting, the risk of falls and injury are significantly increased.
  • Nearly one-third of workman’s compensation claims related to slip-and-fall injuries – with the average cost exceeding $4,000.

Matting Location is Key

The first step to an effective matting strategy is proper placement. You need mats in the following areas:

  • All entrance areas
  • High spillage areas (e.g., near the coffee maker)
  • High traffic areas (e.g., elevators and hallways)
  • Reception and workstation areas

Determining the Best Type of Mat

Not all mats are created equal. There are several different categories – each serving a very different purpose:

  • Scrapers – These mats are designed to aggressively scrape grime and soil from the bottom of shoes. They belong outside of your facility.
  • Wipers – These mats absorb moisture and soil from the bottom of shoes. They should be placed inside of your facility before walkers reach the actual floor.
  • Wiper/Scrapers – These intermediate mats should be placed after a traditional scraper mat, but before a wiper mat (usually within a door entryway).
  • Ergonomic – These mats increase bounce, comfort and support. They’re intended to reduce worker fatigue and are ideal for internal, high traffic areas like hallways.

Though it’s a simple concept, matting is a frequently overlooked building cleaning and maintenance strategy. Implementing an effective tactic is a sure-fire way increase your facility’s bottom line.

Stay tuned for more cost-saving commercial cleaning and maintenance tips from the National Purity blog.

Preventing Harm: Tips for Cleaning Foodservice Floors

restaurant cleaning
When it comes to floor cleaning, restaurants, commercial kitchens, and other foodservice areas are some of the most difficult to handle.

Unlike restrooms, where contaminants are mostly water-soluble (and therefore easier to clean), foodservice floors are home to a variety of soils mixed with grease, oil and whatever else has been tracked in from outside. And because most foodservice areas are high traffic throughout the day, floors need to be cleaned multiple times throughout the day.

While the problem might seem simple for a commercial cleaning professional, most restaurants and foodservice providers don’t have the budget to hire a professional. Instead, they rely on regular employees (e.g., cooks, cashiers and servers) to do the brunt of the work.

Foodservice Employee Training Needs to Include Commercial Cleaning & Maintenance Education

In addition to purchasing the right cleaning products (every non-slip foodservice floor starts with a floor degreaser) and cleaning equipment (brooms, mops, etc.), you need to reinforce employee behaviors. A thorough cleaning education program should include the following:

  • Management should compile a comprehensive cleaning & maintenance guide
  • Employees who go above and beyond should be recognized and rewarded
  • Cleaning & maintenance best practices should be demonstrated though extensive training

Though many restaurant owners and managers might frown at the additional costs associated with comprehensive training, they could end up saving a lot in the long run. Many liability issues related to slips, falls and other cleaning dangers can easily be prevented through proper cleaning tools and preventative processes.

A working commercial kitchen environment will always be a dangerous environment, so it’s important to make employee safety and health a top priority.

If you’re looking for high quality degreasers for your commercial kitchen, you can count on National Purity. We carry an extensive line of kitchen degreasers and environmentally degreasers.

Image Credit: Flickr

Our Comprehensive Restaurant Kitchen Cleaning Checklist

restaurant cleaning
As we’ve previously discussed, there’s nothing more disgusting to a customer than a dirty restaurant – and the same goes for behind-the-scenes. If you want to keep your customers healthy and happy, you’ve got to keep your kitchen spic-and-span.

Checkout the checklist below:

Throughout a Shift Cleaning Checklist

  • Brush grill in between cooking meat, poultry and fish
  • Wipe down countertops and prep areas
  • Switch and/or clean cutting boards
  • Empty trash bins
  • Switch out cleaning rags and sanitizing water
  • Restock supplies

After Shift Cleaning Checklist (breakfast, lunch and dinner)

  • Clean fryers, grills, grease traps, slicers and other pertinent kitchen equipment
  • Change foil liners on stoves, grills and flattops
  • Run hood filters through dishwasher
  • Sanitize and wipe down all cooking surfaces
  • Sweep and mop the floors and wipe down floor mats
  • Place all aprons (and other kitchen-specific clothing) in laundry
  • Cover all food bins with plastic wrap

Weekly Cleaning Checklist

  • Scrub dirt and grime off of sinks and faucets
  • Empty out and sanitize coolers and refrigerators
  • Clean oven (always follow manufacturer’s instructions), coffee machine and other kitchen equipment
  • Use drain cleaners to clear out floor drains

Monthly Cleaning Checklist

  • Use degreaser behind ovens, stoves and fryers to prevent grease fires.
  • Clean out freezers
  • Calibrate thermometers and ovens
  • Scrub down walls, doors, cupboards and dry storage area
  • Empty out ice machine and sanitize

It’s important to remember that a cleaning checklist is only the first step to maintaining a clean kitchen. Your employees need routine training, the right equipment and cleaning supplies and of course regular encouragement to get the job done right on a daily basis, weekly and monthly basis.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Why Cleaning Trumps Cooking in the Restaurant Business

restaurant cleaningIn a high-production food service environment, it can be easy to let some things go unnoticed – especially in the cleaning department. If this sounds like you, you’re probably doing some serious harm to the long-term success of your restaurant.

With the high visibility of reality shows like Kitchen Nightmares and Restaurant: Impossible, consumers are finding it more and more difficult to turn a blind eye to mediocre cleaning standards.

Restaurant cleanliness “might be the most important marketing job in your restaurant”

In a recent piece published on QSRweb.com, Ed Zimmerman, founder of The Food Connector, elaborates on the issue of dining room and bathroom cleanliness.

According to Zimmerman, restaurant cleanliness “might be the most important marketing job in your restaurant,” especially with today’s fast-paced consumer review process:

“Great food paired with great service is not always enough to win great restaurant reviews. You must offer those items in a clean, safe environment where consumers feel comfortable. In these days of consumer safety and YELP, you cannot afford to be less than clean.”

Zimmerman’s Restaurant Cleaning Tips

#1 Survey Your Restaurant

Grab a clipboard and survey your restaurant. List all elements of operation e.g., hallways and entryways, host station and carryout area, dining room, bathrooms, all doors, tables and chairs (on top and underneath), salt and pepper shakes, etc.

#2 Create a List of Improvements

Walk around and rate the condition of each element on your list. Is there anything appears less than sparkling clean? Is anything in need of a fresh coat of paint? Is anything in disrepair? Though time-consuming, running through everything item-by-item will take the big picture out of focus so you can see the small details.

#3 Prioritize Your Time

Once you’ve got a comprehensive list in front of you, it’s time to prioritize. Clean/repair all of the small items first. If your staff is too busy – you need to hire an outside commercial cleaning company. Once the small stuff is taken care of, it’s time to shift your attention to areas that are visible to customers. Some elbow grease and a little paint can really go a long way.

#4 Shift Focus to the Exterior

Don’t forget the outside exterior of your restaurant. Upgrades like replacing light bulbs, re-striping lines in your parking lot and re-painting can dramatically improve the image of your restaurant and give customers a greater sense of safety. If you can, negotiate these with your landlord.

If you want to succeed in the restaurant business, it’s important to think like a customer. And really, nothing makes it more difficult to enjoy a good meal than a dirty or unkempt space.

When you’re ready to clean up your restaurant, you can count on National Purity. We carry all of the bulk cleaning supplies you’ll need to keep your restaurant in tip-top shape.

Image Credit: Flickr

Commercial Cleaning Tips: Five Ways to Prevent the Flu in Your Workplace

Between 5 and 20 percent of Americans will contract the flu this year according to the U.S. Department of Health. Minimize the spread of disease and protect your employees by following some of our commercial cleaning tips below:

Promote employee hand washing

Habitual hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of illness among employees. Make hand washing easier for your employees by providing automatic hand dryers and bulk foaming hand soap.

Disinfect high touch areas

Areas of your office where that receive a lot of touch (keyboards, door handles, phones), should be disinfected on a regular basis.

Deep restroom cleaning

If you saw our last post on clean restroom tips, you already know that restroom hygiene is essential to your company’s reputation. It’s also essential to employee health. Your restrooms should receive extra care during flu season.

Use entrance mats

Entrance mats are an effective way to trap harmful germs from entering your workplace, but soiled mats can also be a breeding ground for harmful microbes and bacteria. Make sure to keep them clean throughout the day.

Keep your floors tidy

A dirty floor can contain more than two million bacteria per square inch. To reduce bacteria throughout your workplace, use tools specifically designed to reduce and prevent cross contamination.

Foaming Hand Soap, Antimicrobial Surfaces and Other Tips for Improving the Hygiene of Your Restroom

foaming hand soapNo one likes a dirty restroom. In fact, a recent study found that 94 percent of adults would actually avoid a business in the future if they encountered an unkempt public restroom. The state of your restroom contributes to your reputation – so it’s time to clean up! Improve your restroom hygiene with the tips below:

Antimicrobial surfaces – Many hand dryer manufacturers already specialize in antimicrobial technology, which can fend off the build-up of harmful bacteria such as MRSA and E. coli. You can expand the use of antimicrobial to your wall paint, flooring, counter-tops and even your toilets.

Automatic soap dispensers – Though it may not actually be unhygienic, a soap mess on your counter top doesn’t look very clean. Swap out your liquid dispensers for drip-free foaming hand soap dispensers and avoid a pool of soap on your counter-tops.

Automatic hand dryers – Similar to liquid soap dispensers, a pile of used paper towels can really hinder the appearance of your restroom and actually discourage hand washing. Automatic hand dryers will make your restroom appear tidy and the’lly also reduce your purchasing needs for bulk janitorial supplies.

Pay attention to your restroom design – Though most people don’t consider the design of a public restroom, it can make a huge difference in functionality. There are certain standards such as height and distance that should be followed when designing your bathroom. For example:

  • Countertops should be 34” high
  • Urinals should be 17” high
  • Toilet seats should be 17-19” high.

Seek the consult of a professional to make sure your restroom follows these essential guidelines.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Winter Safety Tips for Cleaning Professionals

Winter CleaningWinter is just around the corner, which means we’re in for some harsh weather, below freezing temperatures and heavy snowstorms. If you’re a cleaning professional, it’s time to start padding your current safety practices with some extra precaution.

Bulk cleaning supplies aren’t enough to keep everyone safe during the long winter months. Nearly eight million emergency room visits each year are the result of an accidental slip or fall – making prevention a top concern for most cleaning professionals.

  • Take extra care with building entryways. These high traffic areas should always be uncluttered and free of debris.
  • Always have ice melt on hand in advance of an upcoming winter storm.
  • The winter months are much darker, which calls for additional lighting. Ensure all entryways are well lit throughout the day, instead of just turning them on during night time hours.
  • Keep your eye out for ice build-up around outdoor water sources like gutters and downspouts. Ice patches are common in these regions.
  • Make sure you have a matt system in place for the winter months to keep walkways throughout your building clean and dry.
Stay tuned for more cleaning tips from the National Purity Blog this winter.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons