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Bob
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Theft of toilet paper has gotten so severe in Beijing's Temple of Heaven Park (a major tourist destination) that the authorities have installed facial recognition software on the TP dispensers; anyone wanting more that his proper allocation must sit tight (as it were) for nine minutes before being allowed another two sheets. (Here's the full CNN article.) It seems that China does not usually offer said necessity in public restrooms - one must bring one's own. So perhaps folks have not gotten used to an economy that provides abundance, at least of necessities. (Or perhaps, the economy does not provided... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at The Janitors' Closet
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A great example of how transmission of disease around the facility can devastate any enterprise. It seems that over the last few days, 9 members of the Boston Red Sox, plus their play-by-play announcer, are down with the flu. The thing about a ball club is that many of their players are specialists; you only have one go-to shortstop (not all can be a utility infielder). That many players out, performance suffers. Kind of like most firms. Which is why well designed janitorial service, in addition to a bit of sanitation through the workday, is important to your bottom line.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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Interesting study out of Harvard: worker productivity, and cognition levels, are influenced by indoor air quality. The double blind study had office workers do their normal jobs, but in a facility that could be controlled. The focus was on increasing ventilation, to remove VOCs and other pollutants (and likely increase oxygen content). Seems that productivity can be significantly enhanced at an annual cost of $40.00 per employee (much less with energy efficient systems), in increased heating and cooling costs associated with more airflow from the exterior. Makes sense, and looks like a good investment. A few things one can do,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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Caught an article, on an evocative topic, from the Portland Press Herald: indoor houseplants will not only brighten your mood, but benefit your air quality. It's based on research done decades ago for NASA; they were trying to find ways to filter air during long-distances space voyages and in space stations. The article references B. C. Wolverton's 1997 book, "How to Grow Fresh Air". The article is correct, as far as it goes. Certain common house plants will absorb particular chemicals, such as formaldehyde, which tend to off-gas from facility furnishings and materials. Problem is, the low amounts absorbed by... Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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In a survey of five Cleveland area hospitals, patient room floors were found to be contaminated with various pathogens, according to a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control. The concern is not so much for the health of one's shoes, as for the high-touch objects often found in contact with the floors, such as call buttons and blood pressure cuffs. We clean a good many health care facilities as part of our commercial janitorial service. I find myself more than a bit surprised at the lack of knowledge exhibited by healthcare facility managers regarding what they need,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 22, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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Caught an interesting study out of the University of Leicester. It seems that some particulates in air pollution impact the behavior of bacteria in one's respiratory tract: how they grow and form communities, and thus how they are able to combat our immune system. While the study is concerned with carbon particles, common in highly polluted big city exterior air, it does seem to me to have some potential bearing on what we ought be concerned about in indoor air. Some studies have toyed with the idea that it is as much the existence of heavy particle load, rather than... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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Losing a client's keys, in the commercial janitorial service industry, is a nightmare. Particularly if, like we do at CBN, one stresses tight security in serving clients. The issue, of course, is the unintended (or sometimes intended) separating the cleaner from the keys. The clip to your belt may break; or you may put the keys down, say on the front desk, after locking yourself into the building, and forget where you put them; or have them in your hand (you think) as you take out the trash. Or you carefully set them on the front desk, went out the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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What with being in the commercial janitorial service field, and stressing the health and safety benefits of how we organize our cleaning, a recent article in Romper on the dangers of public restrooms caught my eye. The lead paragraph quotes an acquaintance, Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist down the road at the University of Arizona: "... the real threat of germs lies in the area surrounding the toilet, and not the toilet itself. Because public toilets have eliminated toilet lids, it makes it impossible to guard the surrounding area from the spray of droplets that tend to escape when you... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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Received a call yesterday, and quoted the same day as the call, nightly janitorial service, for a largish distribution center pretty close to my office in downtown Phoenix. They currently have the folks who do cleaning and miscellaneous chores in the warehouse catch the office cleaning when (and if) they finish in the warehouse, with predictable results: flu and colds traveling through the office, various breathing issues, and so on. And lots of dust. Disinfect the coffee maker - handle, controls, and reservoir The vacuum (when used, which seems not very often) is an ancient, unfiltered model. No thought has... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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This has precious little with janitorial service, save that we strive to create healthy facilities for our clients, but portends great things in diagnostic medicine - provided the FDA does not get in the way. A material sciences prof at the University of Texas has developed an inexpensive device that detects the bio-markers of flu in a sufferer's breath, using similar technology to that used by our friendly local police when they pull me over on a Saturday night. With luck, the device could be available at drugstores; it looks to be as accurate as a run-up in your doctor's... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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Received a call from a client this morning, the facility manager of a large insurance agency. He has something of an epidemic of "pink eye" around the office, with perhaps a half dozen of his folks affected. Wanted to know what he, or we, might be able to do about it. Pink eye can be several things. A somewhat unusual allergy affecting multiple people simultaneously seems unlikely, so we are left with viral or bacterial infection. Bacteria is the more serious, and indicates medical treatment, but the symptoms (green discharge, eyes swollen shut) are not present. So, we're likely left... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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Formaldehyde is a flammable, colorless gas that you might remember from high school biology. To my mind, anything that preserves frogs is likely something that you do not want to ingest much of. Besides frogs, the stuff is used extensively in building construction and furnishings, for instance in the resin used to bond pressed wood (I have real wood in the antique furniture at home and office, but mostly see the fake stuff everywhere else). Normally, a few days ventilation will let your new furniture off-gas enough to solve the problem, but with poor ventilation ongoing it can accumulate. So,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 23, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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Here's something cool, from the journal Infection Control Today. "Surgical masks were originally designed to protect the wearer from infectious droplets in clinical settings, but it doesn't help much to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases such as SARS or MERS or influenza," says Choi, the study author. "Airborne pathogens like influenza are transmitted in aerosol droplets when we cough or sneeze. The masks may well trap the virus-laden droplets but the virus is still infectious on the mask. Merely handling the mask opens up new avenues for infection. Even respirators designed to protect individuals from viral aerosols have the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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Preventing the spread of disease pathogens is the subject of a Time Magazine article featuring an old friend, the University of Arizona's Dr. Charles Gerba. While the article (with the above name) is directed at consumers, not at my commercial cleaning industry, it highlights several items of concern that I had not thought of: for instance, cell phones. Ponder that for a minute - your phone is in your hand, up against mouth, nose and ear. And how often do we borrow a companion's phone, for a quick call? Or to say "Hi" to the mutual friend he's talking to?... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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I've had a bit of fun with Venezuela over the last couple of years, over the national shortage of that vital commodity - toilet paper. With decades of experience in commercial janitorial (thankfully, never in Venezuela), I've noticed that a shortage, in a give restroom, of said commodity can produce irate customers faster than most any other oversight. When an entire nation experiences such an oversight, I figure worse is soon to come. I am vindicated. Of late, Venezuela has taken to confiscating children's toys, in the run up to Christmas, from manufactures and distributors, suspecting a plot to sell... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2016 at The Janitors' Closet
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Had an interesting moment recently. I took a call from a hot tub dealer; he needed a quote on janitorial service. (We clean much more commercial office space, both high-end and down and dirty industrial, than we do retail, and a lot of health care facilities, but pick up the odd retail establishment when given the opportunity.) I'd expected a largish showroom, with different sizes, stiles and colors of tubs available, and perhaps a shipping, prepping and repair facility in the back. Pulling up to the facility, it seemed to be a standard 20- or 24-foot strip center suite, a... Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2016 at The Janitors' Closet
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Caught an article in European Cleaning Journal about MRSA, the new and improved drug resistant bacteria, being easily transferred internationally via restroom door handles in airport restrooms. Researchers used tourists and swabs to check the cleanliness of the door handles; they focused on "internal toilet doors", what we call stall doors, given that multiple people use them after "potentially unhygienic activities". Go figure. Here's the guts (as it were) of the results: "Worldwide the team detected a variety of bacteria common to fecal contamination which could be transferred by touch from toilet door handles to tourists' homes....contamination rates were highest... Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2016 at The Janitors' Closet
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The office janitor can have a significant impact on the health of employees and visitors – in dealing with indoor air quality, spread of pathogens, and chemical safety. The real reason we clean our offices (I run a janitorial service in Phoenix AZ) is to protect the health and safety of our employees and visitors. Folks often fail to consider the health impact of the air one breathes. Suspended particles of soot, bacteria, allergens, pollen, and dust mite feces exacerbate asthma attacks; many tiny particles, such as asbestos, cause various occupational disease syndromes (the AMA lists over 50). One’s janitor... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2016 at The Janitors' Closet
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Should you suspect theft, or even minor pilferage - food from the fridge or the snack tray, change out of a desk drawer, pens and pencils - the first target of your suspicion tends to be the janitor, whether he's an outside contractor or your own employee. After all, he generally has nighttime access, with no-one watching over him and, since you do not know him like you know the fellow at the next desk, pointing a finger has fewer repercussions. So, like all in the commercial janitorial industry, we get our share of questions. But to minimize the above,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2016 at The Janitors' Closet
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Some musings, having nothing to do with janitorial service, but with our larger society. Had lunch a week ago with an old friend. Well educated, active in the community - he serves as a volunteer on a major city policy-making commission. In the course of conversation, I recommended several recent books, including Nicholas Carr's "The Shallows", whose thesis is that the distractions of modern society, notably the internet with it's hyperlinks, email and social media, are training our minds to avoid deep, concentrated thinking (research shows, more and more, that the brain remains plastic and adaptable throughout life) of the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2016 at The Janitors' Closet
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Got to ruminating about my note the other day on storm drains and a really good example of the mindset of much of society. I happened to be asked to prepare a janitorial service quote for a prominent downtown Phoenix church; one of the church's employees was doing the cleaning, and they were exploring outsourcing janitorial to free their employee up for other duties. Said employee was asked to show me through the campus. He gave me a good and detailed walk-through, explaining procedures, areas of concern, time frames and so on. A major concern was keeping clean the grand... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2016 at The Janitors' Closet
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Caught a Herald article out of Burke County, North Carolina, about an elementary school with a case of shingella, a moderately severe gastrointestinal illness mostly communicated by touching contaminated objects. The article mentions an initial stab at combating spread of the disease by upping restroom cleaning frequency to twice daily. Me, I'd be inclined to do a bit more, but not a bad effort. The more often you clean and sanitize restrooms, as well as lunchrooms and touch-points (door jambs, phone hand sets, computer gear, door knobs) around the facility, the more you prevent disease transmission. The less often you... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2016 at The Janitors' Closet
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Caught a NY Daily News story out of Georgia: a Democrat National Committee campaign bus was photographed duping raw sewage into a local storm drain. Kinda bad for one's image, even if one is not truing to be particularly environmentally friendly. The problem, of course, with storm drains is that they are not connected to a sewer; the dumped material (whatever it may be) goes, untreated, into a river, or the ocean, or the ground water. All bad. We've survived 40-plus years in commercial janitorial service, with no environment-related actions, or even inquiries, against us or our clients for something... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2016 at The Janitors' Closet
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Some thoughts from flu season, a couple of years back: Flu and cold season is just around the corner. 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... Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2016 at The Janitors' Closet
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What with making my living in the janitorial service industry, I do my best to keep on top of the major changes in the industry, particularly in relation to sanitation, indoor air quality, floor care and security - the areas our clients tend to be concerned about. So when I see a major piece of legislation, bi-partisan at that, zip through our august Congress and get signed into law, I take note - and keep my friends informed. Such has happened. Our President has just signed into law the Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation Act, or BABIES Act, that requires... Continue reading
Posted Oct 13, 2016 at The Janitors' Closet