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We've been called out or consulted on a few unusual cleaning challenges (normally what we do is just run-of-the-mill commercial janitorial service), but not like this. As detailed in the Saint Louis Post Dispatch, the first thorough cleaning of the iconic Indian tomb is stalled. Most of the exterior was done using a paste of fullers earth to pull stain out of the marble (sounds like using a paste to pull stain out of fireplace facing - that I can handle). Doubtless very high scaffolding - you wouldn't see me up there - but quite do-able. The beautiful but delicate... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Janitors' Closet
No, not what you thought. It seems that maintenance workers are dealing with quite an infestation of bugs and rats, particularly in the kitchen area (which makes sense; where the food is is where I'd hang out, in fact). All this from a Washington Post story. Now, as the article points out, it's an old building, which tends to lead to such situations. But lack of proper maintenance can also attract pests: trash piling up, food left out, food scraps in the kitchen trash can that is not emptied often enough. Many commercial facilities skimp on proper maintenance, cutting frequency... Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
Happened to be speaking to my customer service rep, Pablo, about Posada, an old Hispanic tradition that I'd taken as something similar to traditional Christmas caroling. There's a bit more to it than that. Here's a note from my original janitorial sales manager, Bill Black, who is still a member of our corporate board. Bill's mother was old school Hispanic, and brought him up in both the Faith and the culture: A Contemporary American Posada as a Multi Cultural Expression Robert, further to our conversation a day ago about Umberto Eco, and the field of semiotics, I very much appreciated... Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
Interesting article on NPR, involving an electrician who was fired for hiding his whereabouts from management (he was on the golf course) by stashing his company provided, GPS enabled PDA in a foil lined bag of chips. The PDA was to periodically report his location, so management could keep track of him. The foil served as a Faraday cage - the foil blocks electromagnetic fields, hence blocked the GPS transmission. (A metal trash can, lined with cardboard to keep the electronics from touching the metal can, works as well. And it's bigger than a bag of chips.) We keep a... Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
Caught a news item regarding a grandmother who died cleaning up the bathroom where her son had overdosed on a synthetic opioid. The son was found passed out and was rushed to the emergency room; mother went back home and decided to tidy up the scene - without donning protective gear. She apparently (coroners toxicology reports are not in yet) inhaled or absorbed enough of the opioid to cause serious breathing problems; she was rushed to the hospital and died there a day before her son finally passed. One could think long and hard on the current drug epidemic in... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
In metro Phoenix, Arizona, where I make a modest living providing commercial janitorial service, flu season seems to have hit a bit early. I got my flu shot well in advance this year (I usually wait, being scared of needles) and I use a long lasting hand sanitizing lotion (claims up to 4 hours as a germ barrier) whenever I'm in contact with many people - visiting a client, working a Chamber mixer, or Sunday church (of late, I'm at the neighborhood Salvation Army Citadel - they let me play bass trombone and euphonium in their brass band - and... Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
Repeatedly over the years, I've interviewed supervisory folks sporting long experience in commercial janitorial service. Most often, they cite multiple jobs, usually titled "operations manager" (general or regional), some for smaller owner-operators, most from the various cleaning franchises. In virtually all cases, they report "operations" involves both day (interacting with customers) and night (training, supervising, filling-in) work, ongoing. They also cite long shifts, multiple responsibilities, and much pressure and friction from higher up. On founding my business, I had the privilege of working both day and night. Didn't like it, so as soon as I could, I put a supervisor... Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
Our office neighborhood lost power for about an hour this morning; when it came back on, and we'd restored internet connections and so on, about the first thing that came up was an article on enhancing one's security on one's various interconnected electronic devices around the home. Good advice on avoiding WY-fi, updating devices often, generating one's own passwords, and so on. I've not seen much evidence of such interconnectivity in the sort of client we serve - smaller commercial janitorial jobs in the metro Phoenix area. But, reading the trade press, I'm sure it's coming. Going back to our... Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
Just opened an email from one of those generic "how to improve your business" sites. Several topics were featured, starting with "logo design" and concluding with "Tattoos in the workplace". It occurred to me, immediately, that I'd be money ahead by combining the two. After all, what firm would object to it's own logo tattooed onto an employee? Further, one could save a buck by doing away with the uniform T-shirt in favor of a large tattoo on the torso; it would be quite appropriate in Phoenix summers (our folks have to do janitorial in summer, regardless of 120 plus... Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
The alarm system in the new client's suite seemed a bit strange. The doctor in charge is big on security, so he's asked his office manager change the alarm code weekly. She (the office manager) doesn't have the time, so she changes it "when she thinks of it". And then tells everybody. They all have the same code, because changing all those codes would be even more time consuming. I can envision the over-worked office manager changing the code, and then getting pulled onto another task, and forgetting to tell someone of the new code - probably us. I really... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
Don't let your kids touch the toys (thoughtfully provided for their amusement) in the pediatrician's waiting room. A just released infection control policy, from the American Academy of Pediatrics, in addition to dealing with bodily fluid spills (a nice euphemism), hand hygiene and sanitizer, and general housekeeping, suggests that such toys are great disease vectors - particularly the ever popular stuffed toys. (Thanks to Cleaning & Maintenance Management for passing the information along.) We provide janitorial service to a good many health care facilities, and to both the occasional pediatrician facility and preschool or daycare center. We often include in... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
This has little enough to do with commercial janitorial service, but seeing that we provide same in the general vicinity of Phoenix, Arizona, including more than a few facilities close to desert rural areas, rattlesnakes - as well as scorpions, black widows, and the occasional javalina - occasionally evoke concern. Arizona had 160 rattlesnake bites last year. A method developed by a researcher down the road at the University of Arizona uses iron and carbon monoxide to delay the effects of venom from several dozen snake species. Per the article: "Snake venom destroys a protein that allows blood to clot,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 26, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
"Nurses who used disinfectants to clean surfaces at least once a week had a 24 percent to 32 percent increased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) according to a study by the French Institute of Health and Medical Research. The study followed 55,185 nurses with no prior history of COPD for eight years. During this time, 663 of the nurses were diagnosed with COPD, Newsweek reported." Interesting, but: "The study identified glutaraldehyde, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, and quaternary ammonium compounds (quats) as COPD risks. It did not investigate whether wearing gloves or a face mask when using these... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
As if the occasional strain of flu out of China is not enough, meet another Chinese export: a highly transmittable, drug resistant strain of pneumonia. According to Cleaning and Maintenance Management, "Five patients who had undergone surgery for multiple traumas contracted Klebsiella pneumoniae, which responded poorly to all available antibiotics, the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and policy reports. The superbug not only infects the lungs and causes pneumonia, but also invades the bloodstream and internal organs. All five patients died of severe lung infection, multi-organ failure, or septic shock." So - physicians and janitors, wash your... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
The US tends to follow Australia's last season experience, in terms of annual flu hospitalizations and deaths - at least according to some sources. This year, according to Vital Signs via CNN, Australia is on track for double what they booked last year. While it's still summer here (another week of 100-plus degree days in Phoenix), its likely not too early to revisit one's firm's preparation and policies to limit flu season's impact. Here's a bit I sent out last time around: Sick employees coming to work will infect others, who will infect others. Here's an article quoting a friend,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
The average cleaning frequency for the office refrigerator is 93 days (at least in Britain), according to a survey in Ladders, a UK publication. Recommended "deep cleaning" frequency is every 4 weeks, according to some authorities. I figure a bit more often; even if the half eaten burrito I store is fine, and stays in the fridge just until tomorrow, other items, if contaminated, can ship bacteria to my (once) healthy lunch. 49% of respondents to the survey, one might note, had no idea of what temperature to set, or how to do so. So even the rare clean fridge... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
The office from which I run my commercial janitorial service was built, in 1914, by local bank president L. L. Steward. Steward purchased and subdivided acreage just across 7th Avenue from my office, the "Story Addition", now know as the F. Q. Story Historic Neighborhood. From Steward's 1960 obit in the Phoenix Gazette: "Even before Arizona won statehood in 1912 Mr. Steward subdivided farm land on what was the edge of the city in what became known as the Story Addition, building more than 100 new homes for newcomers attracted to Phoenix by news of statehood. That tract is centered... Continue reading
Posted Aug 30, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
The CDC has confirmed bubonic plague in fleas in Navajo and Coconino counties in Northern Arizona. While this is not cause for panic (plague is endemic in the American Southwest, at least in fleas), should we see a significant die-off among flea hosts - prairie dogs, voles, rats - the critter's next step tends to be people. There were two confirmed human cases, just a couple months ago, across the line in New Mexico. Plague is readily treated with modern antibiotics, if caught early. Untreated, mortality runs from 30 to 60%. These days, it becomes a concern in societies that... Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
I ruminated the other day about why one ought use floor finish. But, as in all good things (think beer), you can overdo it. Started a small industrial facility (a metal fabricator) a couple of weeks ago. The stated reason for bringing in a professional janitorial service was that the gal - not quite an employee, not quite a firm - who's been doing the cleaning for years is costing them too much in floor finish, even though they are buying the low cost stuff from a home improvement warehouse. As with many in-house, or kind of in-house, janitors, the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
We started service for a large industrial facility the beginning of last week. Nice modern facility, that the previous janitorial service had let go, for so long that the client had more or less forgotten what a clean facility might look like. We spent the first couple of nights bringing the routine janitorial up to speed (one can now see the paint on the walls around the Bradley sinks in the shop), and then rolled into floor work. (We generally include periodic floor and window work as part of our ongoing service and billing- burnishing and refinishing VCT, carpet cleaning... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
A cyber security bill, specifically addressing the internet of things, is moving through the U S Senate (I found it through Facilitiesnet). It would apply only to devices purchased by the Federal Government, but the idea is that, given the government's huge purchasing power, most reforms would appear in most devices. Could even help us in trying to keep our janitorial client facilities a bit more secure, so all is good. Some aspects seem a bit basic; for instance "....Fixed (or default) passwords. Manufacturers would have to set a different password for each device so hackers would have no way... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
We participate in Homeland Security's IMAGE program; we commit to confirming identity on applicants before sending names and SSNs to E-Verify; they assist us in training our folks to do so. As one might expect, we also get regular updates on E-Verify, the IMAGE program, training and seminars on each, and so on. And, it gives me the occasional topic for an article. Just received this: "Arizona, Maryland and Wyoming became the latest states to join the Records and Information from DMVs for E-Verify (RIDE) program beginning July 31, 2017. "RIDE is an ongoing E-Verify initiative that links E-Verify with... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
A few months ago, a client (for, I imagine a good deal of money) replaced a perfectly good shop lunchroom floor with new VCT. And paid extra for a "permanent" finish so as to be able to save money by discontinuing our program of monthly burnishing and as-needed refinishing. Not consulted beforehand, we mentioned to the client after the fact that there is really no such thing as a "permanent" finish; the ones that are called that provided instructions for refinishing when the "permanent" finish begins to show wear. Go figure. Here's what it looks like now. Dull and scratched.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
I sent my 7/24 post out as an email newsletter, to quite positive response. From one client, I received: "Oh no, better safe than sorry. Loved the Faraday cage idea! Going to talk to my IT guy now. Take care!" I sent her back the following, mostly to note how easy and inexpensive the hardware and data protection is: "Fancy name for a simple procedure. Just a metal box (metal mesh will do) to conduct a charge around the item. Isolate the item from the metal. For our back-up drive, we use a small metal file box, with a cardboard... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
Seems your kitchen sponge harbors bacteria - "lots and lots of bacteria". Research published in Scientific Reports identifies, among others, close relatives of the bacteria that cause meningitis and pneumonia, so we're not just worrying about the common cold here. I even had a picture of sponges, on a sink. It makes sense. Sponges have lots of nooks and crannies to shelter critters; it seems they also develop a biofilm on the surface to provide even more breeding ground. So - can't you clean them? I'd heard, some years ago, that a minute in a microwave would kill everything living... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet