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Here's another study on restroom surface sanitation reflecting differences in restrooms supplying paper hand towels to their users as opposed to restrooms using jet air dryers; the conclusion: "Multiple examples of significant differences in surface bacterial contamination, including by fecal and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, were observed, with higher levels in JAD versus PT washrooms. Hand-drying method affects the risk of (airborne) dissemination of bacteria in real-world settings." Three European hospitals were tested over a 12 week period, so a good many people, and germs, were involved. As I understand it, the difference comes from critters still present on hands after washing... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Janitors' Closet
Caught an article on environmental concerns in the wake of flooding in North Carolina, that I'd wager many folks haven't tumbled to. Not much more to say; interesting read. Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Janitors' Closet
Provocative study by researchers just down the road at Arizona State University, proposing a link between Polluted air and Alzheimer's disease. Some 7 million American adults' health records were perused; the connection drawn is between fine particulate matter in residential air and an accumulation of such particles in the brain, causing inflammation, which is in turn associated with dementia. The article, in All About Arizona News, gives little information on how pollution levels were measured and then correlated with an individual's health records; it mentions studies showing some health impact to folks living near busy highways, so one assumes the... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Janitors' Closet
Here are some thoughts I published a bit ago; it's time again: Sick employees coming to work will infect others, who will infect others. Here's an article quoting a friend, Dr. Charles Gerba, down the road at the University of Arizona: “In our studies, we found if we put a tracer virus on the doorknob of an office building, we can detect it on 50 percent of the people’s hands that work in the office and half of the surfaces they commonly touch,” says Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona. “People who come to work with... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Following clients and vendors with presence in the Carolinas, I notice quite a bit of thoughtful preparation in advance of the storm. Very useful. Here's a handy OSHA checklist of hazards to keep in mind. In any disaster clean=up situation, one ought fully evaluate beforehand, look for fall risks, assume power lines to be live, break out protective gear, and use ladders and chain saws properly. While we don't get involved in much major disaster clean-up (we concentrate on our core business, commercial janitorial), we keep a pretty fair rolodex of firms that do. And we're always ready to provide... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
No, not what you think. It'd the plastic security trays where you put your carry-on items. Influenza, rhinovirus- none of which were found on the toilets. But only about half of them tested positive. You need to watch shop payment terminals, check in counters, child play areas, stair rails - about what you'd expect. And about what we tend to stress in sanitizing touch-points in commercial office cleaning. Also - wash your hands, and carry some sanitizer along. Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
In providing commercial janitorial service, we do our best to be a generalized resource to our clients on most anything regarding cleaning, maintenance or disposal - and not just recyclables. Caught an interesting article in the New York Times about what not to flush; dental floss, condoms, contact lenses, wipes, most any plastic, medications - it's a long list. Essentially, sewage treatment plants are not designed to deal with much beyond human waste and TP. Rather than my giving you excerpts, best to sent you directly to the article. Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Chicago Public Schools have recently not re-hired some 266 employees - close to 60% of them teachers - when background checks uncovered unsavory antics. Per the article, in Cleaning & Maintenance Management: "The school district conducted the background checks in response to a Chicago Tribune investigation earlier in the year that found some school employees who were fired for abusing students had criminal backgrounds the school district didn’t know about." We've always thought that a background check was best performed before putting someone to work; that might particularly apply to folks working around children. In passing, we don't just background... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Keeping restroom stalls graffiti free is covered in a perceptive article at CMM. Of prime importance is the author's call to view the stall from the point of view of the user. We train our folks to inspect their own work (as far as is humanely possible). When you've finished a cleaning job and put away your equipment, pause, put on your other hat and walk through the facility as would my daytime customer service representative, trying to find issues that the client might notice. Sit down at the reception desk; you'll better see prints on the front door, or... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
The above observation, from Ben Franklin, neatly encapsulates the significance of a recent article in Cleaning and Maintenance Management, summarizing the "how-to" of planning for everything from a flood to a cyber attack. Similarly, here's a bit on planning out in advance what to do in response to an active shooter in the vicinity, either at work or out in public. We stress security in delivering janitorial services, but mostly focus on our own folks: personnel screening and back-grounding, identity verification, key and alarm code security, segregating client keys from alarm codes from client identifiers (name, address, etc.) and such.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Unexpected article in the European Cleaning Journal. A proposal is in front of Glasgow's City Council to require cleaners to wear body cameras while on duty. OK - it involves street cleaners, not the commercial janitors I employ. But the point is not to spy out irregularities in the work habits of the cleaners, but to protect them from hostile crowds. (I thought Scotland used to be law-abiding - at least, after the '45. Go figure.) Per the article: "A spokesman from the council cleansing section of the UK's general trade union GMB said: "We're working with large crowds of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Caught an article about a Boca Rotan firm that's doing its part to remove floating trash from the nearby ocean by paying fishermen to pull trash; they've just celebrated their million pound mark. They pay expenses by selling bracelets, made of recycled material (though, I gather, not the stuff pulled from the ocean). All very commendable. One million pounds is 500 tons. Though the planet is better off with those 500 tons in a landfill than in the ocean, that's not really a lot of trash (one could talk about a drop in a bucket...). And I wonder just how... Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
As we enter the school year, vaccination rates among Arizona school children continue to decline. From All About Arizona News: "Currently, 18 states, including Arizona, permit philosophical exemptions from immunizations leading to “hotspots” with potential for major outbreaks, according to the Public Library of Science’s analysis." In Maricopa County (the metro Phoenix area, where we provide commercial janitorial services, with an emphasis on health): "According to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services, 5.4 percent of students, namely kindergartners and sixth graders, received non-medical exemptions in 2017. The ADHS recommends a 95 percent vaccination rate among schoolchildren to ensure... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
My attention was caught by a quick article about a McDonalds serving a lady cleaning fluid rather than the latte she had ordered. She seems unharmed, but a bit unhappy. Seems that the coffee machine was down for cleaning; staff had neglected to unplug the hose to the cleaning solution tank. Can happen to anybody... Though not applicable to the commercial janitorial we provide, the incident does highlight the importance of procedures, and procedure manuals, and training. We do our level best to make all three integral to our program. And put inspections, and double checks, in place. An old... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
61% of elevator buttons sampled showed microbiological growth, compared to 43% of toilet surfaces, in a study performed in....a hospital, according to the Open Medicine Journal. Per the article, "Bacteria cultured from the elevator buttons and toilet surfaces included Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, coliform (or bowel) bacteria, Enterococcus and Pseudomonas...". Not the stuff I'd want on MY elevator button. In doing commercial janitorial (and not just in health care facilities), we've long stressed the importance of touch-point sanitation, including areas like door push bars and elevator buttons. Our standard touch-point protocol involves a microfiber cloth saturated in a hydrogen-peroxide sanitizer. The HP... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
So now for the good news, from Sciencemag: "Alcohol-based disinfectants are a key way to control hospital infections worldwide. Pidot et al. now show that the multidrug-resistant bacterium Enterococcus faeciumhas become increasingly tolerant to the alcohols in widely used hospital disinfectants such as hand rub solutions". In doing commercial janitorial service, we clean quite a few healthcare facilities. For years, we've used a hydrogen peroxide based sanitizer and a quat based disinfectant, and a lotion based hand sanitizer. No alcohol. So we seem to be safe (until the next discovery), but I see a lot of alcohol sanitizer in use... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
There is much Hispanic culture in my corner of southern Arizona (the Phoenix metro area). Thus, in providing local commercial janitorial service, I deal whit a good many Hispanics, both as clients and serviced providers. I've long been impressed with the solid upbringing evidenced by many raised in that culture. A good friend - part of said culture, with a solid Catholic education, sent the following, to explain the essentials of said upbringing: "Here's a management training technique you might try at CBN, it's very similar to the method old school Catholic nuns practiced in parochial schools. In the traditional... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Haboob is Arabic for "blown"; that's the proper name for the dust storms that hit the Phoenix area this time of year. They come in off both desert and farmland, and pack quite a punch: "Manure and pesticides from agricultural land are prime ingredients within a haboob. Sometimes the wind will kick up brake dust and tiny pieces of tires from roads and highways as well. Spores beneath the desert crust could also go airborne, making people sick with Valley fever, a fungal lung infection." The above is from an article in "All About Arizona News", that you might just... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Janitorial service is not a particularly dangerous business; the occasional fall or sprain usually covers it. I did, however, run across an article about a lady in Madrid who died after a couple of hours of intense housecleaning, with ammonia but not much ventilation. Ammonia used to be big in the industry. As a floor stripper, it's pretty effective; the rule of thumb 30 or 40 years ago was to add ammonia (one measured it by "glugs") to your commercial stripper if the wax looked particularly thick. You needed quite a lot of ammonia, and ventilation was of secondary concern... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
This morning, I got a call from a long-time client, a small medical facility. They needed to tell me that they are changing their restroom stock storage location (towels and TP); it had been in a locked closet, also containing their hard copy patient records. In a security review (something I wish more clients did regularly), they quite reasonably decided that limiting that closet's key access to only those dealing with patient records made good sense. So the TP and towels will be on a cart, down the hall. Good call. The restroom stock is not of quite the same... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
The security or our client facilities - client keys and door fobs, alarm codes - has long been one of my major concerns. Cleaning a couple hundred locations around Phoenix and its suburbs, we've the potential of lots of lost keys. A few years back, I took a string of credit unions from one of the more prominent janitorial franchising operations. Picked up the keys, branch by branch, that the franchisor's individual franchisees had dropped off earlier in the day. Looking at the keys to a couple of the branches, I found little sticky tags on the keys: the building... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Seattle. and some other jurisdictions, have recently banned plastic soda straws. Restaurants are not allowed to offer patrons a straw and, if asked, must provide, if anything, a compostable one. It's all part of a well thought ought campaign to halt global warming, reduce landfill volume, and save the planet. Given that plastic straws constitute, by one estimate, about 0.03% of global plastic, one might wonder why the poor plastic straw is singled out. And, given the "recycle" effect ("I recycle, so I've done my part for the environment - don't bother me with anything else."), the campaign could even... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
It seems that Tokyo's plumbing system has felt the strain of recent World Cup competition. To quote an article from Japan Times: "During their team’s 2-1 World Cup win over Colombia, Japan’s armchair soccer fans risked triggering a plumbing disaster of biblical proportions when millions rushed to the toilet at halftime. It was a case of squeaky bum time when fans finally tore themselves away from the TV last week after a nail-biting first 45 minutes, with water use jumping 24 percent in Tokyo during the break, the city’s waterworks bureau said Friday." Wonder if one could calibrate better viewer... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Caught an interesting article in Willamette Week by the above title. It mostly discusses the fervor with which folks in the trendy community fill the blue dumpsters - not just with recyclable stuff, but with and general garbage that comes to hand. Used diapers are specifically mentioned, to give a bit of color to the discussion. Culling out non-recyclables costs resources; conserving resources is, after all, the point of recycling. Besides dealing with recycle programs in doing commercial janitorial, I served a few years on the City of Phoenix's Environmental Quality Commission; we addressed various issues related to the City's... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Caught an interesting article, "Don't dry your hands with bacteria", on bacterial growth on office lunchroom towels. The bulk of our janitorial clients use disposable paper towels, but we still see a fair number of cloth towels. We also see a lot of sponges in client sinks, which have similar issues. We work hard to sanitize touch points through the office, but particularly in restrooms and lunchrooms. A lot of janitors seem to skip sanitizing the client's repeated use surfaces, such as fridge and coffee pot handles, and faucet handles. If we didn't key on such surfaces, we'd have more... Continue reading
Posted Jun 27, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet