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This has nothing to do with my usual janitorial ruminations, but on something else that's concerned me for some time. I happen to be introducing a tune at this Sunday's Salt River Brass concert, Jay Unger's Ashokan Farewell; here's my thoughts: Ashokan Farewell is the haunting theme used throughout Ken Burns PBS series “The Civil War”. It’s a waltz in the style of a Scottish lament. From its style, most folks assume it to be of the Civil War period; in fact, it’s the only piece used in the film that is of modern origin, written by fiddle player Jay... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at The Janitors' Closet
Since early in the Covid epidemic, I've followed Katelyn Jetelina, who posts regularly as "Your Local Epidemiologist", for real time information on the progress of the virus and various remediation methods. Quite useful, both in fine tuning our disinfection regimen and in helping to keep safe, and working, my folks (and myself). Back in February, she posted (just to lighten the mood, I suspect) her take on the recent TV hit "The Last of Us", about an insect fungus that evolves to infect humans - and take over their minds, as it does ants in the real world. She got... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at The Janitors' Closet
Caught a good article, via our friends at Cleaning & Maintenance Management, regarding lessons learned (or that we should have learned) from the 22-23 flu season. I'll quote a couple of good points: 1) The typically predictable timings for flu season might no longer be accurate, reinforcing the need for a high-level of germ protection throughout the year. 2) With the ongoing threat of COVID-19 and the surges in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and streptococcus A (strep A), this winter showed that flu is no longer the only respiratory virus threat in the workplace. The article goes on to stress... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at The Janitors' Closet
Bob, a few days back you posted a story titled 'Homeless in My Neighborhood' about the Old Station, an old gas station that's been converted into a cute sandwich shop in 'the Zone'. As your article mentioned, the Zone refers to the epicenter of the homeless population in Phoenix, both various homeless resource providers and the large encampment. I also recall, as you mentioned, ordering lunch from the Old Station when I worked at CBN. They have good food. As you know, for a couple of years I worked for a homeless service provider located about a block from the... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Janitors' Closet
Folks ignorant of history make some ironic decisions. Recently, both the national Audubon Society and its New York chapter have contemplated removing Audubon's name from their names, having (apparently) recently discovered that Audubon owned slaves. The national society elected to retain the name; the New York chapter is removing it. The New York chapter seems oblivious to the rather more odious "York" in their name (and in that of city and state as well). The "York" was James II, Duke of York and brother to Charles II later king in his own right. New York was named for James after... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Janitors' Closet
I uncertain times, given banking challenges, inflation, labor and other shortages, I suspect we're soon to see commercial janitorial clients, ours and others, looking at ways to cut costs. Here's some notes I put together a few years ago, during another uncertain period: When the economy went south a while back, many firms around the Valley cutback on facility cleaning - either dropping the janitorial service entirely, or cutting services to a minimum, with periodic jobs such as burnishing and refinishing tile, carpet cleaning, and window washing eliminated. (Or, if those periodic cleaning items were not included in the ongoing... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2023 at The Janitors' Closet
Caught a New York Times article today about a sandwich shop a bit over a half mile from . It's called Old Station Subs, and we've ordered take-out from them from time to time over the years. Phoenix's huge homeless encampment (1100 and counting) is a block or two from the shop; the article deals with the issues longtime small business owners face with drug dealing, theft, murder and general crime occurring on their doorstep. The neighborhood abuts the old "Duce", along the rail yard. the name is variously attributed to it's being the old produce district, it's situation between... Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2023 at The Janitors' Closet
Some time ago, I presented a quote to a small medical facility whose floors had really deteriorated, because their current janitorial service charges extra (a LOT extra) for refinishing ("waxing") - and likes to refinish often, because they are not burnishing in between. Vinyl tile requires regular maintenance - to retain appearance, and to help provide a safe, injury free and sanitary workplace. While glossy floors may look slippery, modern floor finishes meet or exceed Federal standards for traction, even when wet; they are generally more slip resistant than bare tile. Worn finish (or bare tile) is porous, and thus... Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2023 at The Janitors' Closet
Should have looked further. Just after I posted yesterday on innovations in window cleaning, and speculated on some sort of robots designed for high-rise buildings, I found in my in-box my daily feed from Building Service Contractors Association International (CBN has been a member since 1985).. Included was an article on exactly that. It seems that a couple of innovative firms (both Israeli, go figure) have systems up and running. One places a robot on (essentially) an existing platform; the other has a light weight device, suspended by a rope, "climbing" down the building using suction cups. The latter uses... Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2023 at The Janitors' Closet
Here's a good article on the Future of Window Cleaning, from our friends at CleanLink. It talks about pure water cleaning, ultrasound, cobotics (essentially, extending one's reach), and drones. I suspect quick adaption of existing high-rise rigging (when you see a platform hanging on cables from the top of a high-rise, the window crew on the platform washing floor by floor) to facilitate some sort of robotic system to replace the guys on the platform. High-rise window cleaning has always seemed to me to be a major safety risk; I gather that's why workers comp insurance for window cleaning firms... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2023 at The Janitors' Closet
Interesting article in Smithsonian's daily magazine, on recent testing for animal fecal matter on sidewalks, shoes and interior floors in New York City. The supposition (quite reasonably) is that the poop plops (as it were) on sidewalks, spreads via water and traffic, and enters one's building. Rather evocatively, in testing for bacteria load, per the article: "They detected the highest amounts of enterococci in the building’s entryway and smaller amounts on interior floors. And carpets had more bacteria than bare flooring: While a carpeted entryway had around 22,000 enterococci per square meter, uncarpeted floor in the same area had only... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2023 at The Janitors' Closet
It's been a while since I've had to put much thought into the dangers of various cleaning chemicals; we use only Johnson/Diversey chemicals, monitor what's in our janitor closets and on our vans, and train our crews in safety and proper chemical usage. So an article from our good friends at Cleaning Maintenance Management, about the danger of mixing bleach and vinegar, served as a useful wake-up: "While the hazards of mixing ammonia and bleach might be more widely known, there’s another common cleaning product that can cause a deadly situation if added to bleach, and that’s vinegar. "When vinegar,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2023 at The Janitors' Closet
Early on in the Covid pandemic, we started doing quite a lot of electrostatic disinfection jobs, both for own ongoing janitorial clients and others, to help mitigate Covid exposure. I also did my best to keep on top of the fast evolving science on the pathogen, risk and means of transmission, and so on. A part of that was following, religiously (if I may combine religion with science), a column by an epidemiologist . Much of her work, while certainly useful for anyone in the prevention business, was a bit depressing. I was delighted to see this morning a column... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2023 at The Janitors' Closet
At CBN, we take good deal of care with client keys. We don't want any identifiers on the keys that would point to the client's building (name, address, logo); we also want to be able to tell the keys apart, both as to which client the keys belong to and, if there are more than a couple of keys associated with that client (say, front door, interior master, janitor closet, executive office), which keys fit which doors. So, we assign a number code to each client, and don't allow our crews to associate that number with a client name or... Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2023 at The Janitors' Closet
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 sort required in perusing a serious book. My friend replied that he doesn't have... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2023 at The Janitors' Closet
I posted a bit ago in this space about the plume of fine droplets ejected from a toilet at each flush; here's an article from Smithsonian, of all places, presenting a graphic version. I've seen studies that the finer droplets can spread some 40 feet from the offending fixture, likely carrying an unhealthy mix of viruses and bacteria. Thus, it's recommended to close the lid before you flush, to somewhat mitigate the effect. Easy to do at home, but many commercial facilities lack a lid. In particular, the fancy low water ones rely on high pressure - a really aggressive... Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2022 at The Janitors' Closet
“Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world.” Calvin Coolidge, Presidential message on December 25, 1927 CBN's offices in the restored 1914 L.L. Steward House, in downtown Phoenix Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2022 at The Janitors' Closet
Caught an interesting article, in Medical News Today, about increased dementia risks associated with polluted air, specifically the inhalation of small particles, under 2.5 microns in size. The article focuses on traffic related air pollution, but doesn't distinguish particles from vehicle emissions from any other particles. Everything I've seen, over several decades of following the research, indicates that it's foreign particles per se, rather than any particular kind of particle, that causes damage. And, that's damage to many parts of one's body. Per the article: "....there are many ways by which air pollution could drive dementia risk, including causing inflammation... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2022 at The Janitors' Closet
In my youth (longer ago than I care to admit) I owned several Volkswagens, including an iconic 1960 bus, in faded red. Having few resources, I acquired a bit of ability in vehicle repairs, in the days when one did not need a computer to diagnose. Much repair work was seat-of-the-pants, using whatever materials - duct tape and bailing wire come to mind - and odd tools happened to be at hand. These days, doing commercial janitorial, I have different concerns. Like, supplying TP to clients, and making sure it stays locked up so it doesn't walk off. Had a... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2022 at The Janitors' Closet
I often see advice from various safety gurus about stair safety: Always use the handrail, never carry anything that requires two hands, keep your eyes open, and so on. The old sailors' adage, when up in the rigging working the sails, applies - one hand for the ship, one for yourself. But I cannot recall anything on safely cleaning those stairs. On carpeted stairs, vacuuming is straightforward: use a backpack vacuum, adjust the wand to a safe length, use the wand with one hand and keep the other on the rail. But many stairs are concrete or rubber - good... Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2022 at The Janitors' Closet
It might make a difference where you source your cleaning chemicals. Anecdotally, a fair number of smaller operators (certainly not all) and some folks with the janitorial franchising operations pick up chemicals at convenience or discount stores. They're less expensive (at least in small quantities), and are open late, which is an advantage if you don't monitor your supplies, and run out mid-shift. Buying from a janitorial industry supplier, you tend to get informed usage and safety advice, SDS sheets with the purchase, and have available stick-on factory labels for any chemicals that need to be diluted into, say, a... Continue reading
Posted Oct 26, 2022 at The Janitors' Closet
There's been a bit of a buzz lately on ATP testing, to measure cleaning levels. ATP measures biological material present on a surface; hence it's a good measure of cleaning (have you removed all the "stuff"?). However, some folks confuse cleaning with sanitation or disinfection. If you've disinfected a surface, but not removed the dead critters, you'll show contamination, because the bio markers are still present. Secondly, it seems that ATP meters are thrown off by some disinfectants. Go figure. Here's a study from National Institutes of Health site, summarizing the issue. An excerpt: Results All four ATP meters tested... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2022 at The Janitors' Closet
ISSA's Global Risk Advisory Council has produced a short video on the virus de jour, Monkeypox. Take a look. While cases are still quite low, and it seems to be confined to a quite narrow segment of the population (I shan't elaborate), it is spreading rapidly (some 7500 lab confirmed cases in the US, from a May 18 initial case), so we ought to begin preparations. So it could hit us in a major way. Compared to Covid, transmission seems by physical contact, rather than airborne; thus concentration on surfaces ("touchpoints") rather than masks and air circulation, it the thing.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2022 at The Janitors' Closet
Katelyn Jenner, an epidemiologist I follow, recently posted a piece on what schools can do to limit the spread of Covid, that doesn't depend on compliance from teachers or students. Much here is applicable to commercial, health care and retail facilities as well. From her air quality post: "Schools need to upgrade their ventilation and filtration systems. This is one of the most powerful tools we have to curb COVID-19 and other viruses because it happens in the background—it’s an institutional-level intervention that doesn’t require the teachers, parents, or students to do anything. Unfortunately, a small proportion schools report... Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2022 at The Janitors' Closet