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"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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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I see a lot in the commercial cleaning industry trade publications about the advantages of interconnecting various electronic devices, from inspection reports and door locks on the job to the alarm systems and the coffee makers at home and at the office. While I'm generally excited about new technology available to the janitorial industry, and to make my life easier at home, it strikes me that this is of a different character than the microfiber and accelerated hydrogen peroxide technology that makes my crew more effective keeping client facilities healthy for their occupants. Best current information is that the same... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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I notice quite a bit of talk concerning the health care debate in Congress, even from those who ought know better, suggesting that any of the recent Republican repeal or repeal-and-replace bills would cause some 20 million people to "lose their health care". We seem unable to distinguish "health care" from "health insurance". I have no dental insurance (though I suspect I could afford it) but I do have dental care; I even was able to go in for my semi-annual check-up and cleaning Thursday, with no dental insurance at all. I paid cash, at a discount. My dentist charges... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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Started a new janitorial client last night; they're a large sales and development office for a local manufacturer. It's a re-purposed 1920s warehouse in downtown Phoenix, a half mile from my office. Most of the floors are honed concrete, likely with a penetrating sealer. They looked a little dingy, so I did, by hand, a small test patch near the front door. The floor lightened remarkably, so I suggested a couple of test patches, no charge, with a scrubber and wet-vac, partly to see how much difference we could make in various areas, and partly to let me better estimate... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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Just happened again for the second time this week – got to tell one of my favorite stories: Doug: “When I was growing up my paper route was on Camelback Road … between 7thStreet and Central. Don’t think I’d ride a bike there now.” Kind Listener: “eh, what’s a paper route?” Doug: “Well young boys (a few young girls) got up at zero-dark-30 rain/ shine/ frost/ etc. and we pedaled our bikes in the dark to where our wired up stacks of papers were delivered. Mine were usually delivered to NW corner 7th St. & Camelback, a vacant weedy lot... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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Most commercial janitorial firms clean for appearance. They sell to clients, train crews and inspect jobs based upon "sparkling restrooms, dust free furniture, debris free floors" and so on. Consider, though, whether the health of the building occupants might be at least as important as the appearance of the building. One can pick up a lot of diseases from airborne allergens, germ laden touchpoints, and not quite disinfected restroom fixtures. Sick building occupants equates to more sick days and lower productivity while at work. The client's bottom line demands a healthy staff, and thus "Cleaning for Health". An unexpected bonus... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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When a client calls about a deficiency or a concern, we take it seriously, and generally head out to look at the job. My customer service rep does most of our daytime visits (in addition to visiting every client at least monthly), my operations manager does a lot of both routine and issue specific inspections in the evenings, and I visit clients as well. We keep a pretty good handle on our client facilities, and are aggressive about recording everything, and doing follow-up. So when the small once-per-week schedule client called, and claimed that a dead cricket had been on... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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Caught an article, out of Iraq, on a blog I follow called Ricochet; I'll quote directly: "Well, we have a new world’s record. A Canadian special forces sniper in Iraq just made the longest confirmed kill shot in history. The unnamed sniper killed an ISIS fighter at a distance of 3,540 metres. And this wasn’t some unlucky ISIS janitor he shot, the sniper is credited with disrupting an attack on Iraqi security forces. "We’ll do the math for you. That’s 2.2 miles. That’s so far that it took the bullet almost 10 seconds to hit its target. That’s so far... Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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Phoenix hit 119 degrees yesterday; we were shooting for an even 120. Perhaps today. It's a good time not to be traveling; quite a number of flights out of Sky Harbor were cancelled yesterday due to the heat. American Airlines by itself cancelled 50. The issue is lack of lift produced by the hot air; hot air expands, so supports less weight - and aircraft. The situation is worst for smaller commuter aircraft; the larger planes, with more power and larger wings, have less of an issue. It's also the time of the year when a few customers (we provide... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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Caught an interesting study on indoor smoking and its effect on indoor air quality. The article headline stresses marijuana smoke, perhaps to garner audience, but mostly talks about smoking generally and the size particles (half micron down to quarter micron in diameter), generated by smoking, that impact health. Removing fine particles from clients' indoor air, and thus benefit their health, is central to our Cleaning for Health program, utilizing HEPA filtered vacuums, microfiber wipes and microfiber damp mops. And why we measure client indoor, ongoing. I'll let you peruse the article on your own. The only caveat I'd mention is... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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This has nothing to do with janitorial service in the metro Phoenix area, my usual subject, but the recent shootings in Washington got me thinking. Several years ago, the U S Army and Marine Corps got together to produce a counter-insurgency field manual, kicked off by Petraeus and Mattis, Army and Marine generals respectively, and two of the brightest and most widely read fellows in anyone's military; as senior commanders in Iraq, they both found themselves fighting insurgents on the fly, with no doctrine available. They recruited a stellar group of folks to write the manual. In the introduction to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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Took a call from a long time client a bit ago; they wanted us to quote and provide a day porter for their facility, perhaps an hour per day, mid-day. They're a large call center, with lots of folks using a couple of large restrooms, in something of a high pressure environment. So the restrooms get hammered, and my client thought they needed an extra mid-day cleaning I dropped by, early afternoon, to check the restrooms with the client and to probe a bit on exactly what his concerns really were. Turns out that overflowing trash cans and empty towel... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet
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I go out on a fair number of quotes, to assess both the potential client facility and its needs in the way of janitorial or office cleaning service. I do my best to get a look at the janitor closet. Clearly, it's useful to see if there is a floor sink, and to see if there is enough safe storage for whatever paper goods, and hand-soap, need be kept on hand. I also like to see what the current cleaning service uses (both chemicals and equipment), and what kind of potential liability the client is (usually unknowingly) covering. I almost... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2017 at The Janitors' Closet