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Schooling cleaners

Cleaning in schools and colleges is very different from cleaning a normal office, there are a whole host of specific rules, regulations and advice to take into account. CHT casts its eye over some of the most important

According to www.gov.uk in January 2012, there were 8.2 million pupils attending 24,372 schools in England (including nursery schools, state-funded primary schools, state-funded secondary schools, special schools, pupil referral units and independent schools). That’s a lot of space that needs cleaning, with an incredibly high footfall.

There are obviously a whole host of reasons why schools are a different proposition to adult workplaces. These range from the unique environments, to the unusual opening hours via children’s weaker immune systems. Seasonal changes can wreak havoc when hordes of children trample fallen leaves or snow through the corridors add in the inevitable littering and spillages and you begin to see the size of the challenge.

DIFFERENT LOCATIONS
Your average secondary school in the UK will boast classrooms, corridors, offices, canteens, dining halls, assembly and sport halls, changing rooms and sometimes gyms and swimming pools. Just for starters all of these places will need a different type of flooring, from carpets through to vinyl with the changing rooms and showers needing non slip floors. All of these will need to be cleaned differently. Each room will need different chemicals and equipment as well.

HOURS
Though people might just assume that there is plenty of time to clean a school either before 9 or after 5 this isn’t necessarily the case. Activities are common place both before and after school with breakfast clubs, sports and clubs. You might also get local community activities taking place.

Because of this it is now normal to see schools being cleaned during “work hours” and this presents even more challenges. Quiet is of paramount importance, not just if coursework or exams are underway, but just for learning in general. Furthermore in a place full of young children cordless machines would be preferable to prevent trips and falls.

HEALTH
Schools and colleges are like Disneyland for germs and if the premises aren’t kept perfectly clean then you are likely to see half the faculty and student body absent. Public Health England recommends the environment, including toys and equipment, should be cleaned frequently, thorough and follow national guidance. “For example, use colour-coded equipment, COSHH and correct decontamination of cleaning equipment. Monitor cleaning contracts and ensure cleaners are appropriately trained with access to PPE.”

Other expert advice columns also point out that the younger a person is the more likely they are to get ill and suffer from disorders like asthma. The type of chemicals employed by your cleaning operatives could play a key role in keeping pupils, not to mention the operatives themselves.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention also have plenty of recommendations:

1. KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CLEANING, DISINFECTING, AND SANITISING
Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

Sanitising lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.

iStock_000012569134Medium2. CLEAN AND DISINFECT SURFACES AND OBJECTS THAT ARE TOUCHED OFTEN
Follow your school’s standard procedures for routine cleaning and disinfecting. Typically, this means daily sanitising surfaces and objects that are touched often, such as desks, countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, hands-on learning items, faucet handles, phones, and toys. Some schools may also require daily disinfecting of these items. Standard procedures often call for disinfecting specific areas of the school, like bathrooms.

Immediately clean surfaces and objects that are visibly soiled. If surfaces or objects are soiled with body fluids or blood, use gloves and other standard precautions to avoid coming into contact with the fluid. Remove the spill, and then clean and disinfect the surface.

About Sarah OBeirne

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