Archive for October, 2012

Cleaning chemicals: how to know if your cleaning company is using safe, quality products

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Thursday, October 11th, 2012

What chemicals should be avoided in cleaning?

In the cleaning industry, many  products are labeled with the word “caution.” This means that they are strong enough to use for industrial or commercial cleaning, but they need to be handled by trained professionals. In order to avoid any work safety or health issues, your cleaning provider should not be using any products labeled with “poison/danger”, “warning” or “flammable.”

Below is a list of chemicals that are considered unsafe to use in cleaning operations.

  • Dichlorobenzene – This chemical is extremely dangerous because of its carcinogenic qualities. Cleaning sprays containing this chemical have been banned in many areas around the world. What happens if you use this?
  • Chlorine – While chlorine is an acceptable product to use for swimming pools, in an undiluted form it poses several risks. It is highly corrosive and capable of damaging skin and eyes. Chlorine can also cause carcinogenic chemicals to form in waste water supplies, and should therefore be avoided in cleaning.
  • Synthetic fragrances – These usually contain dozens of chemicals derived from petroleum, and they affect the air quality when used indoors. Exposure to these fragrances prolonged periods of time can lead to serious health problems such as? In fact, research conducted by The National Institute of Occupational Safety in the US found that one third of substances used in the fragrance industry are toxic.
  • Triclosan – Some disinfectants contain this chemical, which is known to create bacterial resistance and produce dangerous side products such as?. In Canada, concerns about triclosan’s potential danger have led to its complete ban.

What ‘green’ cleaning products are available?

‘Green’ products are by far the safest and most environmentally sustainable choice for commercial cleaning companies and their clients. Many green cleaning products have been developed to the point where they rival the stronger chemicals in quality and efficiency. While the Australian government does not regulate cleaning products, there are several ‘eco labels’ that determine whether a product is ‘green’ or not. Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) is one of the most reputable associations that undertakes these product assessments.

‘Green’ products have the following characteristics:

  • Chemical-free
  • Biodegradable
  • Low volatile organic compounds
  • Renewable
  • Non-hazardous and non-toxic
  • Contain no phosphorus
  • Minimise the use of resources and water
  • Use recycled content
  • Environmentally sustainable

How can you find out if your cleaning provider is using safe products?

When it comes to cleaning products, unfortunately, the industry is very lightly regulated. Aside from the Green Stamp in Western Australia, there are no specific programs that are authorised to certify cleaning products. However, the easiest way to ensure that your cleaning provider is operating in a safe way is to check their accreditations. The certifications for Quality Assurance, OH&S, Environmental Management, and Risk Management are all granted by third parties that enforce high global standards. If your cleaning provider has these qualifications, this means they have been deemed trustworthy, credible, and ethical.

 

Who are the ‘peak bodies’ in the Australian cleaning industry?

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Thursday, October 11th, 2012

‘Peak’ bodies are associations that have been set up to govern and guide companies within their industries. They are authoritative and respected organisations that have been set up with the purpose of representing the industry. They are usually member-based, and companies choose to join them because of the benefits and services they offer. While the specific roles of peak bodies may vary between industries, they all share the following responsibilities:

  • maintain industry standards
  • address any issues and complaints of the industry
  • speak and act on behalf of members when lobbying the government
  • promote the interests of members
  • keep members up to date with the latest news
  • alert members of any policies and changes that may affect their businesses and livelihoods

While these organisations do overlook many aspects of the industry, their key role is to represent the industry. A major part of this is providing a strong, unified voice for their members. They also make themselves available to deal with any concerns raised by members.

Below are some of the peak bodies that we frequently encounter in our work as commercial cleaners. They represent different areas and sectors of the industry, which explains why there are quite a few of them.

ACCORD Australasia – ACCORD is the national association for the consumer, cosmetic, hygiene, and specialty products industry. Many cleaning companies that offer washroom and ancillary services hold memberships with ACCORD.

Australian Cleaning Contractors’ Alliance – This Sydney-based association assists medium to smaller-sized contracting firms across the country. They openly acknowledge that the industry is competitive, and that sustainability is a challenge.

Building Service Contractors Association of Australia – The BSCAA is the peak body for the building services industry. Their members include contractors working in cleaning, security, facilities management, and grounds maintenance.

Cleaning & Hygiene Council of Australia – This not-for-profit association is establishing itself to become the peak body in the cleaning and hygiene industry.

National Cleaning Suppliers’ Association – This organisation represents manufacturers and suppliers, as well as their distributors and dealers. The NCSA has a national reach.

Property Council of Australia – The PCA is the representative body for Australia’s property industry. They have property-oriented members such as investors and developers, but they also represent a range of professional services and trades.

Specialised Cleaning & Restoration Industry Association – This independent organisation represents the interests of commercial carpet cleaners as well as professionals involved in fire and water damage restoration.

 

These peak bodies are instrumental in ensuring the various sectors of the cleaning industry are efficient, sustainable, and profitable. Currently, Broadlex is a member of the BSCAA and the PCA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to look for when hiring a commercial cleaning company

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Thursday, October 11th, 2012

In Australia alone, there are a huge number of commercial cleaning companies competing for tender opportunities. With so many to choose from, it can be really difficult to decide which one will most effectively service your cleaning needs. In this post, we’ve outlined the key things to consider before hiring a commercial cleaning service. It’s a good idea to do your research and cover all of these things in the initial planning stages. That way, you can be assured that you won’t need to think about cleaning until the contract is up for renewal.

Legal frameworks

If a commercial cleaning company is reputable, they will abide by the industry’s legal frameworks and recommendations. The first one is insurance. Before hiring a cleaning service, check that they are insured. This is for your own security: if there are any accidents or breakages while they are on your site, they will be liable for the damages. The best companies will have a written policy regarding insurance, and they should have no problem with letting you read over it. Alternatively, you can verify their policy through the insurance company named on their website. The second thing to check is the company’s license. Every cleaning service should have a license that grants them permission to operate in commercial spaces. Finally, check the company’s accreditations. It’s standard for cleaning companies to be certified in Quality Assurance, Risk Management, and OH&S Systems.

Service offer

Before hiring a cleaning company, you should be clear on the types of services they offer. Make sure that you get a quote and agree to the scope of work before you sign the contract, and commence work. In addition, you should familiarise yourself with the company’s pricing. Their prices should be fair and relative to the work involved. While affordability is a major factor, just know that sometimes, low prices mean a lower standard of work. Ask yourself these questions: Is the price realistic for the amount of work? Does the price fit with your budget?

Reputation

At one level, a company’s accreditations speak to their credibility. However, it’s also useful to find out how the company is viewed by other clients. By doing this, you will gain an insight into the more ‘personal’ side of the company, rather than just the technical angle. If you would like to know a little more about the company’s reputation, try calling some of their referrals. These clients should be able to confirm whether the company is honest, trustworthy, and reputable. They will let you know if the quality of work is high and consistent, and how long they held the contract with that company (which speaks volumes). Finally, consider how long the professional cleaning company has been in business. This not only conveys their experience and expertise, but it also speaks to their business savvy and resilience.

Employees

Before hiring a cleaning service, it’s important to find out a bit of information about their employees. The two key areas to explore are prescreening and training. Firstly, does the company prescreen their employees? Do they call their references or run background and police checks? You are trusting cleaning staff in your working space, often after hours, so security is a major consideration. Secondly, does the company train their employees? The best commercial cleaning companies will have formal training programs that they require their staff to participate in.


 

What does ancillary services mean?

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Thursday, October 11th, 2012

The cleaning industry is varied and segmented, and most companies supply components of these segments. While “cleaning” and “property maintenance” are fairly standard services, large commercial cleaning companies will also have the resources and manpower to offer “ancillary services.” Ancillary services are specialised, ad hoc tasks that fall outside a standard cleaning or maintenance service. In simpler terms, they are any extra “odd jobs” that a client might need done. However, the tasks involved in ancillary services often require their own skill sets, which is why not every cleaning company are able to offer them.

Here at Broadlex, we have the resources and ability to perform these specialised jobs for our clients if the need arises. In fact, we integrate ancillary services with our core offering of cleaning, property maintenance, and site management. By responding to all of our clients’ cleaning needs in this way, Broadlex alleviates any worries on their behalf.

In this post, we have outlined the types of tasks that can be classified as ancillary services.

Maintenance work

This category encompasses any ad hoc, external work that may not be necessary for every client. When assessing the need for these kinds of services, factors such as space, budget, and length of the contract are taken into account.

  • Pest control
  • Landscaping
  • Gardening and trimming
  • Waste reduction and recycling programs

Needs-basis services

Like the name suggests, these tasks are done only when required. Usually, they are staggered and done at various intervals throughout the year. This applies to tasks like pressure washing or carpet cleaning. Otherwise, they are done in response to special and emergency cleaning circumstances. This includes tasks like graffiti removal.

  • Special event cleaning services
  • Carpet cleaning
  • Window cleaning
  • Blind cleaning
  • Upholstery cleaning
  • Computer room services
  • Escalator cleaning
  • Food service sanitation
  • Surface floor care and slip testing
  • Pressure washing
  • Graffiti removal
  • Quick response cleaning
  • Sanitary services
  • Disaster recovery services – i.e. cleaning up after floods or fires

Commercial cleaners offer these kinds of labour-intensive services in order to maintain the cleanliness and image of their clients’ properties. From a client’s perspective, ancillary services offer a sense of security and support that their contracted cleaning company will be able to cater for any cleaning requirement the company may require.

Why accreditations matter in the cleaning industry

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Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Cleaning accreditations are all about defining and recognising quality, safety, and excellence. Accreditation schemes detail the skills, knowledge, and code of conduct required by commercial cleaning services. These accreditations are like qualifications, and they instill confidence in the client when they are searching for a new commercial cleaning contract. For cleaning companies and staff, accreditations are treated as professional achievements.
Standards
Most importantly, accreditation schemes establish the high standards that cleaners should work towards. By setting standards in this way, commercial cleaning companies are aware of the expectations placed on them, and the quality of work they should aim to achieve. These standards also benefit clients, as they can be assured that their accredited cleaners will act professionally and lawfully. While the names of accreditation schemes do vary, some of the most common and vital ones include Occupational Health and Safety, Environmental Management, and Quality Assurance.
Credibility
Certification relates to credibility, and as such, accreditations contribute to a company’s reputation. They also attest to the cleaning provider’s resources, capability, and skill set. On a more implicit level, they promote the company’s trustworthiness, integrity, and ability to comply with the law. Commercial cleaning companies have to prove their eligibility for certification. The process to become accredited isn’t always easy, so every client should rest easy knowing that such certifications need to be earned.
Third party involvement
Accreditations are assessed by international, national, and private certifiers. The involvement of these types of third parties is important for cleaners and clients. Clients have the knowledge and peace of mind that their cleaners are overseen by a strict board. Furthermore, they know that they can confidently contact a third party if any issues or problems arise.

Development
From a Sydney commercial cleaner’s perspective, being involved in an accreditation scheme is invaluable. If they can maintain an accreditation, a commercial cleaning company will be conveniently updated on new techniques, legislation, and initiatives, thus keeping them at the forefront of their industry.
A breakdown of Broadlex’s accreditations
• Broadlex has a certified Quality Assurance program in accordance with AS/NZS ISO 9001:2008. Basically, this means that the quality of our work has been recognised as being consistently high. It is set to ensure business performance as well as client confidence.
• Broadlex has an accredited Work, Health and Safety Management System (WHS) in compliance with AS/NZS 4801-2001 and an Occupational Health & Safety System (OH&S) as certified by Global-Mark. These accreditations mean that we continue to provide safe working environments, equipment, and materials, as well as appropriate training.
• Broadlex also has a certified Environmental Management System. We manage our business in such a way as to protect our staff and the public as well as avoid any adverse effects on the environment. As well as complying with the government systems, Broadlex is also an active member of the Green Building Council of Australia.
• Finally, Broadlex conducts risk assessments and manages risks in accordance with AS/NZS 4360:2004. Because we work in commercial areas that are used by the public, it is vital that risks are identified and controlled.