Proving Results, Showing Safety

Scanning and testing with measurement devices can help to   validate cleaning outcomes and ensure safe environments.

For centuries, buildings and other structures have protected   humans from a number of common threats.

Four sturdy walls and a secure roof have offered people safety   from hundreds of environmental hazards, including weather, animals, sickness   and even other humans.

While the advantages of living in a structure were readily   apparent, the need for interior cleaning was not as easily seen, and proper   cleaning techniques were slow to develop.

In the grand scheme of history, cleaning and maintenance tasks   are still in their infancy; just 100 years ago, the safe removal of dirt from   a building required manual sweepers and impractical machines that sometimes   needed gas or oil.The first upright line of vacuums was not introduced until 1950,   and professional vacuums meant for the hotel industry did not appear until   the 1960s.

Cleaning tools such as mops, buckets and dusters took years to   slowly evolve, and effective and efficient cleaning methods took years to   develop as well.

Over the decades, professionals tasked with cleaning commercial   building interiors operated on the premise of cleaning for appearance – if a   surface appeared to be free of dirt and grime, the job was done.

But electronic measurement devices developed to gauge different   facets of cleanliness and safety soon proved otherwise.

Quickly, the trend changed from cleaning for appearance to   cleaning for a healthy environment. Just like mom always said, “Looks can be deceiving,”   and these gauges let building service contractors (BSCs) and facility   managers know that surfaces and environments that appeared perfectly clean   and safe to humans commonly were not.

Though areas had been cleaned following accepted industry   standards, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) meters showed surfaces still could   harbor dangerous and deadly bacteria.

Though the floors were clean and perfectly shiny, slip meters   revealed one liquid spill and they could become the cause of common slip and   fall concerns.

Though a facility’s indoor air was free of malodors and chemical   residue, indoor air quality equipment indicated that some interior   environments still contained gases and contaminants that were anything but   healthy.

Today, more electronic testing resources are available to   professional cleaning operations than ever before. Results-based cleaning has become the industry standard, and   meters and measurement devices are commonly used to test floor safety,   surface cleanliness and air quality.

Floor Safety

When it comes to legal liability in a public building, slip and   fall incidents are one of the biggest concerns.  To address these concerns, a number of hard floor and walkway   safety guidelines have been created by government entities and industry   groups.

Existing Occupational Safety & Health

Administration(OSHA) guidelines say “the walkway surface   shall be stable, clean and slip resistant,” according to Craig   Stephenson, vice president and a walkway auditor specialist with American Slip Meter Inc. “Not a lot of information or guidance,” Stephenson notes.

Updated OSHA guidelines based on the tables and testing   requirements put together by the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) are   due to be released soon, Stephenson reveals, and they should include a   requirement for trained personnel to perform testing and monitoring   activities.

Stephenson explains that current slip meters are sled meters   meant to be drug across a floor to measure the static coefficient of friction   (SCOF); this is the amount of force needed to initiate the movement of one   horizontal body against another.

The first step in increasing floor safety is learning the SCOF   of an interior walkway, and this number can be obtained after a simple, quick   test performed with this measurement device, Stephenson says.

According to Stephenson, meter kits can come with a meter and an   accessory kit that includes extra feet, extra pads, glue and a calibration   chain and pull lines for testing.  Stephenson states that, once purchased, internal programs using   the meter can be set up with training and help from manufacturers.

Companies can direct customers to locate and purchase the safety   standards that should be followed, and there are further courses available to   cleaners if an operation has the need or desire for additional training.

Currently, if a floor’s SCOF reading falls below a high traction   surface – 0.60 SCOF as called out in the ANSI/NFSI B101.1-2009 standard – a   cleaner will know that attention is needed to increase the friction level

With a SCOF number, a professional can plan on deep cleaning,   etching or reapplication of a topcoat; without a SCOF number, the worker   would be guessing how slippery the floor is and what steps are needed,   Stephenson states.

“With test results, an individual or organization can react   properly,” Stephenson says. “If someone just automatically treats   or etches every surface, every time this could be a waste of time and   materials.”

By providing an accurate assessment and following up with the   proper cleaning and treatments in an efficient and economical manner, a   cleaning operation can see its   reputation and business grow, Stephenson concludes.

Cleaning Surfaces

For surfaces, ATP meters are used to gauge the level of surface   contamination present before or after cleaning, according to Tom Morrison,   vice president of marketing for Kaivac Inc. “[These meters] have been used quite a bit in food   processing and in healthcare, but they’re relatively new to the cleaning   world,” Morrison says. “We started using them about six or seven   years ago.”

These meters measure the amount of ATP biological matter on a   surface; ATP, a universal energy molecule, is typically invisible to the   naked eye, Morrison notes. Hand-held ATP meters sold in the cleaning industry include test swabs to   rub on a surface.

After swabbing a small area, an included capsule of fluid is   cracked, the fluid interacts with the swab and a reaction with the matter   captured by the swab begins. The swab is then placed into the meter, a button is pressed and   15 seconds later a numerical value is shown that indicates the presence of ATP   on the swabbed surface.

Morrison states that the meters are easy to operate, and   training can be provided by distributors, training consultants, videos and   other available materials.

There is not a standard frequency of use for ATP meters in the   industry, but some managers or BSCs may set up a timed regimen of testing,   whether it is weekly, monthly or quarterly.

Also, Morrison says some BSCs will use ATP meters more   frequently as they are training individuals, as they are taking on a new   building to   confirm   their cleaning processes and as a proof of service for specific customers. “I think that will start to flesh out more as the Clean   Standard comes out, because we’re still a little bit in the pioneering phase   here,” Morrison says.

As different standards for cleaning results are created and   introduced in various industry sectors – like the upcoming Cleaning Standard   in the education market – the regular use of ATP meters will become more   important as cleaners need to provide proof of results, Morrison states.

Finally, the Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI) is a strong   proponent of ATP meters, and their continued research in many facets of the   cleaning market supports the use of this technology in the industry.

 Air Products

Turning back to OSHA, the agency states that indoor air quality   (IAQ) for schools, offices and other workplaces is important for both worker   comfort and overall health.  Poor IAQ has been linked to physical symptoms like headaches,   fatigue, trouble concentrating and irritation of eyes, nose, throat and   lungs, according to OSHA.

The agency’s list of IAQ factors includes a few subjects   directly attributable to the cleaning and maintenance industry.

The most applicable sources for indoor air concern are:

  • Cleaning supplies
  • Contaminants including dust and        other debris
  • Mold
  • Pesticides
  • Recent remodeling.

For testing IAQ, there are a number of portable, all-in-one   meters that indicate the presence of different contaminants.

These meters test for a number of possible IAQ culprits,   including:

  • CO
  • CO2
  • % RH
  • Temperature
  • VOC
  • NO2
  • Ozone.

Advancing technology means these IAQ meters are now lightweight   and easy to transport, and they frequently offer users real-time results.

Also, the meters include compatible software for computers, and   they can be connected easily to allow for graphing, data review and IAQ   reports.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and OSHA produced   a Building Air Quality Action Plan in 1998, and the plan includes an   eight-step checklist put together for facility managers, cleaners and   maintenance personnel. Step two in the checklist, Develop an IAQ Profile of Your   Building, recommends conducting a walkthrough to assess a building’s current   IAQ situation, and it is in this step when an IAQ meter would be most useful.

Based on testing results and information saved, as workers   follow the rest of the checklist and take steps to improve IAQ, the   effectiveness of the tasks performed can be supported by the changing IAQ   meter readings.

Using electronic meters and measurement devices to prove   cleanliness and safety is already ingrained in many phases of the cleaning   and maintenance industries, and the use of measurement technology promises to   trend upward in the future .  Instead of feeling technology trepidation, facility managers and   BSCs should look forward to providing their customers as much information as   possible.

Today, the best cleaning operations utilize effective hiring   practices, provide the proper training and follow up-to-date processes to   generate outstanding results.  Now, using measurement devices, these operations can finally   provide the test results to prove it.

For the best office cleaning  services, go ahead and fill out our request for proposal here.   If you prefer to have an estimator come out to look at your facility you can schedule   a FREE no obligation appointment please contact us at 954-570-1165 for this   or any of our extensive variety of services. We look forward to hearing from   you soon!