Category Archives: Custodial

‘Flexibility’ Hits University of Wisconsin Custodians

Source: Jason Lee, Labor Notes, August 14, 2014

Glenn Khalar is ex-military, a vet. He’s worked at the University of Wisconsin-Superior for 16 years. He was raised in the area, and brought up his own family there. He loves Superior, and partially credits the university’s program to retrain and hire veterans for getting him his job. But despite his passion, dedication, and modest wage, his job could soon be gone. In May, the campus announced plans to cut half its graduate programs, and sent “at-risk” notices to all 26 custodians and grounds workers—meaning they could be laid off at any time, and their jobs outsourced. The bookstore was outsourced on July 1. Why? It’s the familiar refrain, budget cuts—and jobs like Khalar’s are the first ones to go. In their quest for financial stability in dire times, campus administrators seem to think eliminating his $12 an hour will make all the difference. … But what happens to custodians here isn’t isolated. It’s part of a trend to apply a market-based, private model to public higher education. And the danger is spreading south. The threatened custodians and grounds workers are members of AFSCME. They have held protests and begun an online petition against the layoffs. The AFT local representing faculty and staff is supporting them. …

Cleaning and asthma characteristics in women

Source: Orianne Dumas, Valérie Siroux, Frédéric Luu, Rachel Nadif, Jan-Paul Zock, Francine Kauffmann and Nicole Le Moual, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Vol. 57 Issue 3, March 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
• Background – We aimed to assess the associations between occupational exposure to cleaning products, a gender-related exposure, and asthma characteristics, considering clinical, immunological and inflammatory aspects.
• Methods – Analyses were conducted in 391 women (73 with adult-onset asthma) from the follow-up of the Epidemiological Study on the Genetics and Environment of Asthma (EGEA). Occupational exposure to cleaning/disinfecting products was estimated using the asthma-specific job-exposure-matrix (44 women exposed).
• Results – Occupational exposures were associated with more symptomatic asthma and severe asthma. An association was suggested for poorly controlled asthma. Associations were observed for asthma without positive skin prick test, with a low IgE level, and with a low eosinophil count.
• Conclusions – Results strengthen the evidence of a deleterious role of cleaning products in asthma and are consistent with the hypothesis of non-allergic mechanisms in relation to workplace cleaning exposures.

District outsources to the machines

Source: Cleaning and Maintenance Management Online, August 9, 2011

KING OF PRUSSIA, PA — The Upper Merion Area School District recently acquired a second Gen X – Duo Bot robotic floor scrubber from Intellibot, according to a press release.

Due to tightening budgets and decreased staffing, the robotic scrubbers have become an integral part of the custodial operation at Upper Merion, the release stated.
See also:
(page 12)
Board of School Directors of the Upper Merion Area School District meeting May 2, 2011

Unionization in the Cleaning Industry

Source: Jon Barton, Services, Vol. 30 no. 6, November/December 2010

Across the Country, more and more office building owners are selecting responsible cleaning contractors who pay decent wages and benefits to the janitors who work to maintain their assets. These building owners recognize that investing in workers improves the quality of service to their properties and adds value to local economies and communities. Unfortunately, continual pressure to lower costs, exacerbated by the broader economic crisis, has eroded gains for low-wage janitors, putting improvements in service and the health of buildings at risk while jeopardizing the safety and health of janitors.

Characterization Of Occupational Exposures To Cleaning Products Used For Common Cleaning Tasks-A Pilot Study Of Hospital Cleaners

Source: Anila Bello, Margaret M Quinn, Melissa J Perry, Donald K Milton, Environmental Health, 2009

From the abstract:
In recent years, cleaning has been identified as an occupational risk because of an increased incidence of reported respiratory effects, such as asthma and asthma-like symptoms among cleaning workers. Due to the lack of systematic occupational hygiene analyses and workplace exposure data, it is not clear which cleaning-related exposures induce or aggravate asthma and other respiratory effects. Currently, there is a need for systematic evaluation of cleaning products ingredients and their exposures in the workplace. The objectives of this work were to: a) identify cleaning products’ ingredients of concern with respect to respiratory and skin irritation and sensitization; and b) assess the potential for inhalation and dermal exposures to these ingredients during common cleaning tasks.

Cleaning products are mixtures of many chemical ingredients that may impact workers’ health through air and dermal exposures. Because cleaning exposures are a function of product formulations and product application procedures, a combination of product evaluation with workplace exposure assessment is critical in developing strategies for protecting workers from cleaning hazards. Our task based assessment methods allowed classification of tasks in different exposure categories, a strategy that can be employed by epidemiological investigations related to cleaning. The methods presented here can be used by occupational and environmental health practitioners to identify intervention strategies.

The Seven Sins of Greenwashing: Environmental Claims in Consumer Markets

Source: TerraChoice, April 2009

– A new sin has emerged
98% of products committed at least one of the Sins of Greenwashing. Greenwashing is so rampant that a Seventh Sin has emerged. The Sin of Worshiping False Labels is committed by a product that, through either words or images, gives the impression of third-party endorsement where no such endorsement actually exists.

– Kids (Toys and Baby Products), Cosmetics and Cleaning Products
Greenwashing is most common in three household categories: Kids (toys and baby products), Cosmetics (beauty and health), and Cleaning Products.

– More products are claiming to be ‘green’
The average number of ‘green’ products per store almost doubled between 2007 and 2008. Green advertising almost tripled between 2006 and 2008.

Making the Connections, Contract Cleaning and Infection Control

Source: Steve Davies, Senior Research Fellow Cardiff School of Social Sciences, April 17, 2009

This report reviews some of the evidence for two sets of connections: that between environmental cleaning and HCAI incidence, and that between competitive tendering and contracting out and high quality cleaning. Drawing on government, parliamentary, academic and business literature and data as well as Freedom of Information requests, it updates a previous UNISON report on contract cleaning and infection control.
See also:
Healthcare associated infections: A backgrounder
Source: CUPE, January 2009

– Equipment Cleaning Monitor (working template)

Environmental Cleaning Services Procedure Manual (working template based on Seven Oaks General Hospital’s experience)
Cleaning Of Non-Critical, Reusable Patient Care Equipment
Source: CUPE

Quick & Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools

Source: Stephen P. Ashkin and Rochelle Davis, Healthy Schools Campaign, 2008
(free registration required)

From the press release:
Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC) is pleased to announce the release of the improved and expanded second edition of the Quick & Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools. The second edition includes new sections on sustainability, green cleaning for food service, integrated pest management, new technologies and more. It was developed with the support of 16 national education stakeholder organizations and 39 cleaning industry corporate leaders following the distribution of more than 70,000 copies of the popular and highly-regarded first edition.

The guide includes a handbook outlining five simple steps for setting up a green cleaning program, such as switching to green cleaning products and equipment, adopting new cleaning procedures, introducing green paper and plastic products and involving all school stakeholders in the process. An accompanying CD contains comprehensive information, practical advice, tools and resources to help schools learn more and institutionalize their efforts. The new guide includes an enhanced purchasing directory with more than 500 products that meet HSC’s environmental standards for schools.

Study Shows School Cleanliness Affects Learning

Source: Alan S. Bigger and Jeff Campbell, APPA, 2008
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a direct corrrelation between cleanliness and the resulting academic grade(s) of students. In 1992, APPA published the first edition of Custodial Staffing Guidelines for Educational Facilities; the second edition was published in 1998. This seminal document set the precedent for correlating levels of productivity and cleaning of facilities and has been used as justification for appropriate staffing levels at institutions. In addition, ISSA has long established cleaning times and guidelines that also address productivity issues.

However, such data is now being brought into question as performance indicators are being used to address specific outcomes of maintenance programs. The principal investigators led a team of researchers representing APPA and ISSA to collect data, review and research relevant literature, and determine whether levels of staffing and cleaning have an affect on the academic achievement of students.
See also:
Press release