Training employees in cleaning for health and safety (CFHS) empowers them to help produce cleaner, healthier facilities at less cost, enhances the professionalism of a custodial department, raises morale and creates safer working conditions.

Many institutions already have discovered the power of this concept. For several years, major hospitals and healthcare providers have viewed cleaners as an “environmental services” staff. Now, schools have begun to use these programs with impressive results.

A CFHS program can reduce or eliminate potentially harmful products and processes, and lower absenteeism, illness and injury. Training staff as environmental managers elevates an employee's self-image and the value of the staff's work.

Changing Mindsets

Before embarking on a CFHS program, you may have to change the way you think about cleaning. In the book, Protecting the Built Environment: Cleaning for Health, author Michael A. Berry, states: “One of the greatest and most necessary challenges we face today is to get people to look differently at cleaning and value it. For this change to happen, we need to reshape the way the cleaning industry looks at itself and represents itself to the public.”

Berry suggests ways to bring about that change:

  • View custodians as managers of the building environment.

  • Educate the public and staff about how the custodial department benefits the indoor environment and which tools the department needs to accomplish CFHS objectives.

  • Teach only those procedures that meet established environmental guidelines for cleaning.

  • Demand the highest professional knowledge, behavior and performance from the custodial staff.

Training Trainers

Start training your supervisors in CFHS processes, so they can train your line staff. Seminars are available to teach about chemical and equipment use and how they might affect indoor air quality, ergonomics, hazard reduction, sick building syndrome, floor and carpet care, and other concerns. Seminars should highlight processes, not products.

Many successful CFHS programs embrace team cleaning. Team cleaning creates specialists or cleaning technicians to perform tasks in assembly-line fashion for higher work productivity, consistency and quality. Tasks are typically grouped into four distinct functions: Light-Duty Function (emptying trash, dusting, sanitizing desks, spot cleaning); Vacuum Function (vacuuming carpets and hard floors with high-filtration systems); Restroom Function (cleaning, sanitizing and restocking restrooms); and Utility Function (cleaning lobbies, spot-cleaning glass, mopping, disinfecting and scrubbing floors).