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Catch the train to quality

Becoming a contract cleaner doesn’t involve any qualifications or skills. CHT looks at why this is a double edged sword and how a lack of training after staff are hired can massively impact quality

Different companies are always going to have different levels of professionalism and attitudes toward training will vary. This can even be true amongst different departments of the same firm. Opinions will vary about what is and isn’t an acceptable standard of work and nowhere is this more true than in the cleaning sector.

In Britain and elsewhere there are few, if any, obstacles to getting a job as a contract cleaner. There are no qualifications or requirements beyond a willingness to work. There is no shortage of buildings that need cleaning or of cleaning companies which come in all shapes and sizes. The low cost of setting up a cleaning firm means that there is a plethora of small start ups as well as the massive multinationals.

Not all of these firms are going to train their staff to the same level. The high rate of staff turnover in the industry and the relative ease of replacing cleaners means that some don’t train their staff beyond the most basic manner. Similarly the low wages and poor job satisfaction so prevalent amongst staff mean that their own standards can drop.

Of course this isn’t a problem unique to the cleaning sector, but it is one of the more obvious culprits.

Everyone has heard examples of poorly trained staff (on occasion no training at all) not being given the tools they need to do their jobs properly. These teams too often have low wages and disinterested managers which can lead to a dirty and unhygienic workspace. Not to mention a very unhappy client.

Most companies will insist vociferously that they train their staff impeccably. But this isn’t always the case and with ever tightening budgets and high staff turnover it is hard to see this changing without some sort of incentive.

Plenty of organisations who certify cleaning companies do insist on a certain standard of training and industry wide commitments and pledges are sometimes mooted. But the most likely incentive would surely be to persuade cleaning firms that improving their training regimes will end up making them money.

Of course it varies from company to company but as a general rule what is it that training actually consists of? The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) has over 10,000 individual and corporate members in the UK and Internationally publishes “The Cleaning Professional’s Skills Suite” which breaks down the skills a cleaner needs to possess.

This ranges from the “Mandatory” categories of chemical competence, care of equipment, storage of equipment and materials and licence to practice renewal all the way through to “Specialist” focusing on things like biohazard decontamination, bodily fluids and pressure washing.

Listed under “Base Skills” are:

  • Dust control mop sweeping
  • Damp mopping
  • Suction cleaning
  • Manual brush sweeping
  • Emptying and cleaning of general waste bins
  • Dusting/damp wiping of surfaces
  • Cleaning kitchen work surfaces
  • Cleaning sinks
  • Auto scrubber drying
  • Glass cleaning
  • Cleaning hand hygiene basins
  • Cleaning toilets
  • Cleaning washroom facilities

As such you would hope that all cleaners would receive training in all of these areas at the very least.

ISSA also operates the Cleaning Industry Training Standard in which cleaners take an exam called “Cleaning 101” before moving onto advanced categories which include:

  • General cleaning
  • Hard floor care
  • Carpet care
  • Restroom care
  • General Safety
  • HazCom
  • Health Care
  • Value of Clean
  • Customer service
  • Green Cleaning
  • Personal development
  • Efficiency cleaning

About Sarah OBeirne

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