What’s in Your Cleaning Chemicals?

Selecting the right chemicals plays a fundamental role in shaping your facility’s cleaning program, as even the most dedicated cleaning staff can’t make up for poor product performance. When deciding which cleaning chemicals to useconsider questions like: Do these chemicals target all pathogens of concern? Are there safety hazards? Is there a simpler alternative? With roughly 10% of all work-related asthma cases being associated with cleaning products, it’s more important than ever to not only consider the efficacy of products but their impact on indoor air quality and building occupants. Read on to learn recommendations for enhancing your approach to chemical selection and cleaning.   

Overcoming Chemical Complexity 

Purchasing cleaning chemicals is a complex process because there are numerous products on the market addressing different types of surfaces. Many of these come with unfamiliar ingredients. Further complicating this is greenwashing, which occurs when companies make false claims about their product’s environmental sustainability. 

However, one way to simplify chemical selection and the cleaning process is with an on-site generator (OSG) that produces electrochemicallyactivated solutions (ECAS). Made from just water, salt and electricity, ECAS clean and disinfect just as well as other cleaning chemicals without a complicated list of ingredients. ECAS are also fragrance-free, non-irritating and drain- and disposal-safe, making them a safe and environmentally sustainable alternative. 

Best Practices for Better Selection 

Should you choose to use traditional cleaning chemicals rather than ECAS, you can follow the best practices below for determining whether a product is effective, safe and sustainable. 

Closely review the ingredients.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 6% of custodians are injured by cleaning chemicals. Take the time to read product labels to understand the potential risks of listed ingredients. While reviewing the ingredients, ask yourself: Could the ingredients in one product be hazardous when mixed with another chemical? Can I rely on the efficacy of these cleaning chemicals? Are there pathogens of concern that these ingredients don’t address? 

Understand how to use a product.

After reviewing the ingredients, read through the product instructions. Learn which surfaces a product can be applied to, how long it needs to remain on the surface to be effective (dwell time) and how it should be applied. Knowing how to use a product ensures you get the best performance from your cleaning chemicals while minimizing potential health risks for employees and building occupants.  

Look for cautionary information.

It’s critical to identify how a product could impact cleaning performance and safety. Pay special attention to sections on the label where “WARNING” or “CAUTION” are written, as these are meant to highlight potential issues. Your cleaning staff may need to wear specific personal protective equipment (PPE) to enhance safety when using certain chemicals.   

Identify certifications and approvals.

Determine whether a product has a certification or seal of approval from a legitimate third-party organization. This indicates that the claims being made about the product are accurate, which is especially helpful for avoiding greenwashing. For instance, Green Seal is a prime example of a trustworthy organization that provides approval to environmentally sustainable products. Green Seal also certifies cleaning service providers whose processes align with its standards should your operation require additional cleaning support from a building service contractor.  

Maximizing Safety for the Best Results 

Although it has always been important to consider the health of essential workers, the pandemic has shined a much brighter spotlight on their physical and mental wellbeing. Considering the impact of your cleaning chemicals is just as important as their effectiveness, and critical to building trust among employees and customers. The best way to meet the challenges of the chemical selection process is with ECAS or other safe chemicals that will simplify and improve the cleaning process 

 


At GSF USA, we use ECAS because we care as much about cleaning safely as we do effectively. For more information, contact our offices here and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for the latest updates.  

Carmel Catholic Enrolls in New Cleaning Program with GSF

Challenge

Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, Ill. is a 1,150-student school run by the priests and brothers of the Order of Carmelites and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This highly respected parochial high school provides a well-rounded educational experience through academics, arts and athletics, and fosters a commitment to the community and the environment in its students. The COVID-19 pandemic led Carmel Catholic High School to adopt a hybrid learning plan in August 2020 that allows students to participate in remote learning from home and in-person classes.

With students, faculty and staff meeting on site, the school has placed a high priority on cleaning during the day and evening to reduce the risk of virus transmission and keep the in-person educational experience available to students. GSF USA, a global cleaning services company, cleans the school nightly and Carmel Catholic’s custodial team handles daytime cleaning. The GSF USA team wanted to move away from traditional cleaning chemicals that can have a negative impact on custodial professionals, building occupants and indoor air quality without sacrificing efficacy. This goal aligned with the school’s intent to keep the community safe while also living out its values of protecting the environment.

“Providing a healthier environment for students, custodial staff, teachers and all other building occupants is paramount,” said Claudio R. Hernandez, Area Manager, GSF-USA. “The pandemic has presented new challenges because more frequent cleaning and disinfecting is expected, but it can actually result in adverse effects if the appropriate products aren’t being used.”

Solution

In a commitment to provide effective and environmentally responsible cleaning and disinfecting, GSF installed a PathoSans on-site generation (OSG) system at the school. The system uses water, salt and electricity to create PathoClean®, a cleaner/degreaser, and PathoCide®, a sanitizer/disinfectant, on demand and on site. The electrochemically activated (ECA) solutions are readily available, eliminate supply chain issues and do not contain added fragrances or caustic ingredients. PathoCide is laboratory proven to be effective at inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus.*

“We are a big proponent of the PathoSans system because it is a better and safer alternative to traditional chemicals,” added Hernandez. “While some of our employees are new to working with ECA solutions, they have quickly become raving fans after using the cleaner and disinfectant and seeing the positive difference it makes at Carmel Catholic.”

Some GSF professionals were skeptical of the PathoSans ECA solutions at first because unlike more traditional cleaners, they look like water, contain no added fragrance or dyes and do not produce soapy bubbles. However, the employees soon realized that the products are easy to use, do not require labor intensive scrubbing and deliver a better clean. Employees noticed the bathroom floors and walls were cleaner after each application and the solutions were removing both odors and stains. They also like that PathoClean and PathoCide do not harm their skin.

Each night, GSF’s team thoroughly cleans and disinfects high-touch surfaces throughout the school including classrooms, hallways, restrooms and more. When the science teachers learned about the PathoSans solutions being used in the school, they began researching the ECA method of cleaning and disinfecting. They recognized the benefits provided by the sodium hydroxide cleaner/degreaser and hypochlorous acid sanitizer/disinfectant. Many teachers now use the cleaner and disinfectant in their own classrooms and the teachers’ lounge.

Results

The partnership with GSF USA and PathoSans provides Carmel Catholic High School with:

Healthier and safer cleaning for people and the environment.

The PathoSans solutions offer an effective alternative to typical caustic chemicals with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are harmful to people and the environment. PathoClean and PathoCide are non-irritating to eyes and skin. They also do not leave behind an odor or residue. This makes them ideal for frequent use by cleaning professionals in the school where students, faculty and staff may have allergies, asthma or other sensitive health conditions.

Uninterrupted supplies of cleaning and disinfecting solutions.

The PathoSans solutions are produced in house and on demand. GSF knows their team will always have the necessary products to clean and disinfect the school at night and will not encounter supply chain issues. Daily and monthly system maintenance is quick and simple, and ensures that the system continually produces solutions within effective and safe ranges.

School-wide support and commitment to cleanliness.

For added assurance against COVID-19, many of the teachers are embracing the PathoSans solutions and supplementing GSF’s nightly cleaning and the custodial team’s daytime cleaning with their own cleaning and disinfecting efforts in classrooms. Teachers and cleaning staff use PathoClean to remove surface soils, followed by PathoCide to target remaining pathogens. PathoCide is 99.999% effective against numerous bacteria, fungi and viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. Regular use of the PathoSans solutions improves the appearance of surface finishes by removing layers of soil, making the school look cleaner than ever before.

“We are dedicated to doing what is best for the facilities we serve as well as our employees,” said Hernandez. “Using products like PathoSans gives us peace of mind and results in cleaner, healthier schools.”

 

*PathoCide® has been proven by an independent GLP laboratory to inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 virus in 60 seconds on a pre-cleaned surface and in 10 minutes in a one-step process when produced by on-site generator and used as directed. It is also effective against a wide range of bacteria and viruses, including Norovirus, which is generally recognized as one of the most difficult to kill.

Greening your Cleaning with Écologique

Facility managers are increasingly looking for ways to reduce the volume of waste generated by their cleaning programs, move to safer chemicals that uphold good indoor air quality and don’t contain toxic ingredients and support their organizations’ long-term sustainability goals.

At GSF USA, we carefully consider the impact that our processes, chemicals, equipment and tools have on people and the planet. Green cleaning is in our DNA and our customers value our commitment to creating safer, more sustainable environments.

Our Écologique cleaning program uses processes that have been certified by Green Seal, a global non-profit and leader in sustainability. Learn more about the benefits of green cleaning and the five key Écologique program elements via our Écologique Infographic.

How On-site Generation of Chemicals Enhances Readiness to Clean

Imagine a world in which your operation won’t run out of cleaner and disinfectant, even if another pandemic emerges and demand surges to record highsConsider the possibility of chemicals made from just three safe ingredients.  

It may sound like a dream, but these goals are achievableWith on-site generation (OSG) systems, you can make safe, sustainable cleaning a reality. OSG systems help you improve the appearance of your facility and elevate your cleaning program. You can better safeguard the health of your building’s cleaning and maintenance professionals, occupants and visitors with readily available cleaning solutions.  

What is On-site Generation? 

OSG systems use salt, water and electricity to produce two electrochemically activated solutions (ECAS)In one tank, the system creates a cleaner/degreasersodium hydroxide solution. In the other tank, it produces a disinfectant/sanitizerotherwise known as hypochlorous acidEmployees can easily dispense chemicals into spray bottles, mop buckets and floor care equipment.  

On-site generators are housed in a janitorial closet and can easily meet the needs of large facilities like schools, convention centers and commercial office buildings. Daily and monthly maintenance tasks keep the system running smoothly, enabling facilities to always have adequate volumes of cleaner and disinfectant.   

On-site Generation Creates Many Benefits 

On-site generation of cleaning and disinfecting solutions offers many benefits, including: 

Reliable supply.

During the pandemic, supply chains struggled to keep up with demand and shipments experienced delays. In some cases, organizations had to purchase and use different chemicals than their staff members were accustomed to.  

With OSG, facilities are always ready to clean. They have 24/7 access to cleaning and disinfecting solutions that have proven efficacy against numerous types of bacteria, fungi and viruses. Facility managers can ramp up production to respond to an outbreak, prepare for a large event or expand cleaning services to new areas of a building with ease. 

Enhanced safety

Essential frontline cleaners are at greater risk for chemical accidents or injuriesA surprising number of convention cleaning chemicals have high concentrations of sodium hydroxide (NaOH), which can irritate the skin, eyes and throat. Incorrect chemical mixtures or dilutions can aggravate health conditions and even be deadly. 

Because ECAS are made from just salt, water and electricity and contain no volatile organic compounds (VOCs), phthalates, detergents or fragrances, they can help facilities boost employee attendance, comfort and performance. Effective cleaning solutions also protect custodians and building occupants from pathogens of concern.  

Sustainability.  

Many organizations are also taking a closer look at the effect that their cleaning programs have on the environment. Some products on the market claim to be environmentally friendly but in reality, some are using greenwashing to drive sales.  

ECAS are the way of the future for green cleaning. They help organizations reduce their environmental footprint by limiting packaging, shipping, water use and waste. They are also drain- and disposal-friendly, and are made from three safe and easily accessible ingredients.  

Simplified training. 

When custodial employees must learn about and use many different types of chemicals, it makes training and cleaning processes more complex. Simplifying training saves time and can help reduce high turnover rates 

With only two chemicals, a cleaner and disinfectant, it’s easier to onboard new employees and teach them how to address surfaces throughout the facility. Staff are ready to clean much more quickly compared to alternative cleaning and disinfecting processes   

A Better Approach to Cleaning 

In-house custodial teams and building service contractors often collaborate when overseeing cleaning in large facilities. Having easy, on-site access to effective chemicals means that cleaning teams are always ready for consistent, safe, sustainable and simple cleaning. This allows organizations to better prevent outbreaks and maintain their commitment to the new standard of cleanliness.  

The transition from traditional chemicals to ECAS is incredibly simple. By working with a qualified service provider, you can quickly implement a safer and more sustainable approach to cleaning that will benefit your employees, occupants and visitors 

At GSF-USAwe’re proud to invest in a better method of cleaning with on-site generation systems. For more information, contact our offices hereFollow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for the latest updates.  

GSF Brings Innovative Cleaning to Valley View School District

Challenge

Founded in 1972, Valley View School District today serves approximately 16,000 students in 22 educational facilities. The district takes pride in maintaining its schools to support student and staff wellbeing, and was seeking ways to improve its cleaning program in early 2020. Its building service contractor (BSC) at the time was using various chemicals and concentrates to clean and disinfect the elementary, middle, high schools and the administrative office.

When the novel coronavirus pandemic complicated the BSC’s ability to source necessary products for the district, Valley View sought a way to fast-track a more reliable approach to cleaning and disinfecting. The new program would need to ensure employees always had the necessary solutions on hand and reassure students, staff and parents that every facility was properly and frequently cleaned and disinfected without exposing individuals to toxic chemicals.

Solution

Valley View transitioned from its previous contractor to GSF USA, a global cleaning services company, to enhance cleaning and disinfecting across the district. GSF installed numerous on-site generators from PathoSans®, which utilize softened tap water, an electrolytic cell and salt to produce electrochemically activated solutions (ECAS). The result is PathoClean® cleaner/degreaser, a sodium hydroxide solution, and PathoCide® sanitizer/disinfectant, a hypochlorous acid solution. The solutions are effective and always available, eliminating supply chain issues that hinder the ability to clean consistently and frequently.

“While it’s easy to source chemicals that address pathogens of concern, many facilities face the challenge of finding products that don’t harm those who are performing cleaning tasks,” said Kurt Kuempel, General Manager, GSF USA. “GSF has relied on ECAS for several years across our customer sites because it offers many efficacy and safety advantages compared to traditional cleaning methods.”

With just two solutions for all cleaning and disinfecting needs, GSF simplifies the training process and drastically reduces inconsistency in cleaning results. Between its own evening staff of 110 and the district’s team of roughly 40 daytime workers, GSF is responsible for training 150 people to properly use the PathoSans system and clean and disinfect throughout the district’s buildings. GSF also focuses its training on the “why” of cleaning to better engage employees by highlighting the product formulations and how they ensure efficacy.

Results

By installing and using the PathoSans systems, GSF USA has helped Valley View School District achieve the following benefits:

Achieve peace of mind around product efficacy.

PathoClean® and PathoCide® can be used against a variety of bacteria, fungi and viruses, and have demonstrated efficacy against human coronavirus and other viruses more resilient to disinfection. This gives the district added assurance that its schools are being thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

Eliminate supply issues.

On-site generation offers an uninterrupted supply of on-demand cleaning and disinfecting solutions. In the event of an outbreak or emergency, staff can quickly increase system output. The district no longer has to worry about product shortages, shipping delays and exorbitant price increases when demand for disinfectants is high and supply is low.

Clean and disinfect with safety at the forefront.

The solutions are non-irritating to eyes and skin and contain no added fragrance, making them ideal for daily use, even when students, staff and visitors are present. In the wake of the pandemic, many facilities have implemented new methods for broader and faster cleaning and disinfecting, like electrostatic spraying. However, not all chemicals are safe to use with equipment that produces small droplets that can be inhaled. Kuempel notes that “because the ECAS chemicals are safe, we’re able to use them within various devices like foggers, misters and electrostatic sprayers without the risk that other chemicals carry.”

Simplify training and enhance cleaning consistency.

With the PathoSans system, GSF can simplify training. Using just two products for all of their cleaning and disinfecting needs streamlines the cleaning process and reduces the risk that employees will be confused or apply the solutions improperly. This ensures consistent cleaning across the entire district.

Clean and disinfect in an environmentally responsible way.

Because they are comprised of water, salt and electricity, the PathoSans solutions are not harmful to the environment or surfaces within the schools. They are drain and disposal friendly. Plus, the use of refillable spray bottles helps facilities reduce plastic waste.

“The PathoSans system produces the most effective chemicals we’ve ever used,” added Kuempel. “Given the safety, accessibility and efficacy benefits, I believe ECAS will become the industry norm, especially in educational environments that want to meet a new standard of clean.”

One Year Later: How COVID-19 Transformed the Cleaning Industry

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic challenged the cleaning industry and changed the public’s expectations of cleanliness, specifically in places like grocery stores, airports, restaurants and hotels. Looking back on the past year, it is safe to say that facilities are no longer cleaning just for appearance. Heightened infection prevention protocols will become a mainstay to ensure employees, customers and other building visitors are entering a safe and healthy environment. As we continue to make progress in our fight against COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to understand how this crisis has transformed the cleaning industry.  

The Pandemic’s Lasting Impact 

Much has changed since March 11, 2020 when the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared a global pandemic, including: 

Supply chain stability is more important than ever.

When the pandemic hit, supply chains were overwhelmed by the increased demand for cleaning chemicals, toilet paper, hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment (PPE). In fact, the demand for hand sanitizer alone reportedly increased by 1,400% between December 2019 and January 2020, requiring manufacturers to add more production shifts Consequently, many organizations struggled to secure cleaning and disinfectant solutions. In some cases, this meant that cleaning professionals were working with products they had not been properly trained to use. Moving forward, it will be important for manufacturers and facilities to have an adequate emergency stockpile of solutions available and provide proper training so that product safety and efficacy aren’t compromised when a crisis occurs. 

The public is more concerned with cleanliness and hygiene.

Before COVID-19, many people assumed “if it smells clean, it must be clean.” That is no longer the case, as statistics show the public’s increased concern for cleanliness and hygiene. For example, in a Nov. 2020 Harris Poll53% of respondents stated that the level of cleanliness in a hotel would influence their intent to book a future stay at the property. Another study revealed 82% of customers agreed common areas within a restaurant should be visibly wiped down regularly.  The public is also more aware of their own personal hygiene. Studies found that 90% of Americans are washing their hands more frequently, thoroughly or longer during the pandemic and nine in 10 Americans claim they’ll continue these handwashing best practices after the pandemic. Conducting cleaning regularly and making hand hygiene essentials accessible will help instill confidence among building occupants and visitors.

Scrutiny around product efficacy increases.

The public and facility managers have become more skeptical of cleaning solutions following the United States Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recalls of contaminated hand sanitizer and companies making false claims about product efficacy against COVID-19. Before the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched List N, facility managers did not have much information about what products were effective against the virusAs a result, facility managers will  have to carefully review the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure products are effective against pathogens of concern and deliver on their performance claims. 

Sustainability becomes top of mind.

The pandemic has resulted in a sharp increase in the use of cleaning chemicals, masks, gloves, disinfectant wipes and more. Curbing excessive waste is key to reducing the environmental impact of cleaning programs. Many facilities are also looking for ways to enhance indoor air quality and the overall health and safety of building occupants through certification programs like the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and Green Seal. Looking ahead, it will be important for facility managers to take a closer look at how their chemicals, tools and equipment impact people and the planet, and work with service providers that share their sustainability mindset.  

Custodians gain recognition and respect.

Cleaning personnel are now seen as essential workers and heroes who help protect people against potentially deadly pathogensIn fact, some have been working 12-hour shifts right alongside doctors throughout the pandemic. In a June 2020 survey, 56% of respondents said they regard custodians much more highly than they did before the pandemic. It will be important for the industry to continue to stand by cleaning professionals and provide them with the necessary education, tools and PPE so they can do their jobs safely. 

Meeting New Standards of Cleanliness 

In the wake of the pandemic, facilities must make long-term commitments to their cleaning programs, which means investing in well-trained cleaning staff, effective cleaning solutions and emergency stockpiles to give customers and employees peace of mind. This global crisis has brought a newfound appreciation for the cleaning industry, with more people recognizing the role that cleanliness plays in protecting public safety. As we move forward, the cleaning industry will continue to be a vital resource for reducing the spread of harmful pathogens and saving lives. 

Make a long-term commitment to cleanliness with the help of GSF USA. For more information, contact the GSF office nearest you. Follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for the latest updates.

Celebrating the People who Care about Clean

Welcome to our first edition of “Celebrating the People who Care about Clean,” a quarterly spotlight series on employees who have recently celebrated milestone work anniversaries. At GSF USA, we understand the important role that our team plays in keeping our customers’ facilities clean and safe. This has become even more important over the last year as the world grappled with new risks presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Each day, our professionals showcase their expertise, dedicated service and attention to detaias they work to protect public health and safety 

 We are committed to cultivating an enriching workplace that challenges and celebrates our employees. Our rewarding and innovative culture encourages longer tenure than other service providers in the industry. We are proud to have many staff members celebrating major milestones with GSF USA.  

Below is who we’re celebrating this quarter. We congratulate everyone on their incredible loyalty and service and look forward to many more years together! 

20th Anniversaries  

 Deanna Tapy, senior accountant, GSF USA 

After first serving as an intern, Deanna was hired as a staff accountant on Feb. 5, 2001. She now leads accounts receivable and is the senior accountant on the GSF USA accounting team. Her financial acumen is unmatched, and her dedication to her career and to GSF’s success and growth is inspiring. Deanna’s favorite aspects of working for GSF USA are the people she’s worked alongside for many years, the stability and growth of the company, and the flexibility that’s been offered during the pandemic. 

Veronica Chavez Zavala, area manager, GSF Indiana 

Veronica joined the GSF USA team on Jan. 26, 2001. She has been promoted twice during her tenure and is now an area manager on the GSF Indiana Team. Our area managers oversee daily operations, making them an integral part of our success. Veronica is skilled at balancing the needs of her employees, and her favorite part about being an area manager is knowing that clients are satisfied with the work her and her team have done. 

5th Anniversaries  

 Teresa Hale, staff accountant, GSF USA 

After first serving as a temporary replacement, Teresa was hired as a staff accountant on Dec. 31, 2015. She now leads accounts payable on the GSF USA accounting team, meaning that we all have Teresa to thank for expertly managing our relationships with our suppliers “I love the people I work with, the experience I’ve received and above all, GSF is my work family. I feel blessed to be part of GSF USA and want to be part of the team as we continue to grow in 2021, adds Teresa. 

Luis Tovar, branch manager, GSF Illinois 

Luis joined the GSF USA team on Dec. 28, 2015Over the last several years, he has been promoted and is now a branch manager on the GSF Illinois Team. Luis describes himself as an outgoing person and enjoys the collaborative environment and that his coworkers are always available to help him. He likes being a branch manager because he has opportunities for growth for not only himself but his team as well.  

Ana Ayala, area manager, GSF Illinois 

Ana was also hired on Dec. 28, 2015Since then, she has been promoted twice and serves as an area manager on the GSF Illinois Team. In her role, every day is different. Ana has proven herself skilled at balancing the many responsibilities that area managers have.  According to Ana, “GSF stands out from other companies because they appreciate, respect and celebrate employees and customers every day. The values GSF is built on are everything I believe in and that’s why it’s the perfect place for me to work. GSF not only rewards hard work but gives employees a meaningful career and the knowledge, tools and support to achieve your goals.” 

Jose Acosta, area manager, GSF Illinois 

Jose is celebrating five years with GSF and currently serves as an area manager. Because he started with GSF as a cleaning technician and has worked his way up to a managerial role, he feels he is well-positioned to understand his team’s needs and help them be successful in their careersBeing able to help others is one of his favorite parts of working at GSF.  

 

In addition to our managers, we would also like to recognize our hardworking hourly employees for their recent anniversary milestones. We thank them for helping us deliver cleanliness to customers every day.  

 20th Anniversary  

  • Gumercindo Cabrera, GSF Indiana  

 5th Anniversaries  

  • Gustavo Coronel, GSF Illinois 
  • Ramon Duran Espinoza, GSF Illinois 
  • Reyna Madera, GSF Illinois
  • Jose Martinez, GSF Illinois 
  • Rolando Reyes, GSF Illinois 
  • Nayib Ruiz, GSF Illinois  
  • Azucena Gonzalez, GSF Indiana 
  • Alberto Ibarra, GSF Indiana 
  • Jose Morena, GSF Indiana 
  • Mauricio Perez Vasquez, GSF Indiana 
  • Lucia Ramos Flores, GSF Indiana 
  • Ramiro Ramos Ramos, GSF Indiana 
  • Gudelia Rosas, GSF Indiana 

Interested in becoming part of our incredible team? Visit our online CAREERS page and follow us on LINKEDIN and FACEBOOK for the latest hiring updates.  

 

 

How to Return to Work Safely

More than a year after the U.S. reported its first coronavirus cases, many organizations are still using caution when welcoming employees back to their offices. While some businesses may not yet be ready for on-site office hours, it’s best for all organizations to be prepared for an eventual return as the vaccine becomes more widely available. Read on to learn more about employee confidence related to the return to work and how your business can ensure a safe and successful transition once the time comes.

Considering Employee Concerns

The outlook on employee confidence around returning to work is not encouraging. According to Honeywell’s global 2020 Building Occupant Survey Report, 83% of all respondents have continued to work inside a building either full or part time. Only 54% of them think their building management has taken steps to keep them safer.

Looking at U.S. workers, the majority do not have faith that changes made over the last year will remain in place. The report reveals that 61% of U.S. workers believe building management is more likely to make short-term changes in response to the pandemic versus long-term investments​. Additionally, 40% of all global respondents feel that building or facility management is responsible for implementing safeguards, rather than their employer.

The findings suggest that facility managers are facing an uphill battle, and that if they cannot continue to meet the new standard of cleanliness, employers may struggle to convince professionals to return to work.

Your Return-to-Work Plan

Your business can properly prepare for the return to in-office working by following these four recommendations:

Pivot to a daytime cleaning schedule.

Consider working with your cleaning service provider to develop a day-time cleaning schedule that showcases your commitment to curbing the spread of pathogens. Having cleaning professionals begin their work during the morning hours allows them to address high-touch surfaces while employees are present. These include door handles, desks, appliances, elevator buttons and more.

Confirm the use of safe and sustainable solutions.

Every cleaning program needs to consider the safety of cleaning staff and building occupants. Unfortunately, there are many products that can have a negative impact on indoor air quality, asthma, allergies and more. Confirm that your building service contractor uses safe and sustainable cleaners and disinfectants that meet efficacy standards. For example, electrochemically activated solutions (ECAS) are cleaners and disinfectants made from salt, water and electricity. The disinfectant can inactivate SARS-CoV-2 in 60 seconds on pre-cleaned surfaces. It is also effective against Norovirus, which is one of the most difficult viruses to inactivate.

Consider social distancing guidelines.

It’s unlikely that your office will be ready to welcome back every employee due to occupancy concerns. To make employees feel comfortable working around others again, develop a plan for social distancing that includes a rotating schedule to limit the total number of occupants in the building at a time. Revise the floor plan and include floor markings to ensure employees have a reasonable amount of distance from others. Wall signage, email reminders and table tents on desk can all be helpful for notifying people of the social distancing precautions.

Determine your mask policy.

Wearing a face mask is simple, yet lifesaving according to multiple studies. In fact, the United States is experiencing historically low flu activity this season in part because people are wearing masks. Depending on the size of your organization, consider requiring employees to wear masks for the duration of the workday. You may determine that masks in common areas is more appropriate instead. Whatever policy you put in place, be sure that employees also have access to hand hygiene essentials like soap and sanitizer so that they can further reduce the spread of germs.

A Successful Transition from Remote to In-person Work

Whether your business is planning to return to work after COVID-19 or during the pandemic, there are necessary steps that you need to take to ensure employee wellbeing. Working with a qualified and professional service provider to develop a comprehensive plan will help provide peace of mind and reduce risk. Your return-to-work program should include cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces, regular restocking of essentials and adherence to health and safety guidelines. Not only will employees be happy that the organization is considering their needs, they’ll be able to focus more on their work, thereby enhancing productivity and profitability.

Get your business ready for the return of employees with support from GSF-USA. For more information, contact the GSF office nearest you. Follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for the latest updates.

GSF Supports Healthy Learning at Medinah School District

Challenge

Medinah School District in Roselle, Ill. serves more than 600 students across its primary, intermediate and middle schools. Given that the district operates with the motto “Every Student. Every Day.”, it’s no surprise that it sought a thoughtful approach to maintaining its schools in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Teachers, students, parents and administrators had reservations about returning to in-person learning during the 2020-2021 academic year and wanted to be certain that the district was prioritizing the wellbeing of everyone who learns and works in these buildings, as well as the community at large.

“Our main objective at Medinah School District is to provide an environment that is healthy for students and conducive to high-quality learning,” said Marco Rajcevich, Director of Operations, Medinah School District. “By rethinking the way we clean, and introducing safer solutions, we can face today’s challenges.”

Solution

In August 2020, GSF USA, a global cleaning services provider, installed an on-site generation (OSG) system from PathoSans® at each of the district’s schools. The PathoSans systems use three simple ingredients – water, salt and electricity – to produce two electrochemically activated (ECA) solutions: PathoClean®, a cleaner/degreaser, and PathoCide®, a sanitizer/disinfectant.

The systems support GSF’s promise of cleaning for health and safety through the use of non-irritating cleaning and disinfecting solutions. The district also knows that cleaning solutions are always available because they are generated daily in the schools’ custodial closets.  On-site and on-demand generation of cleaner and disinfectant eliminates reliance on shipments of conventional cleaning chemicals from suppliers.

“At GSF, we take pride in recruiting, training and retaining employees who are champions for cleanliness at our customers’ sites. We supply employees with the necessary tools to do their job well,” said Grant Mackall, Operational Asset Manager, GSF. “The PathoSans system fits in nicely with our goals and the districts’ because employees always have the cleaning solutions they need to maintain the buildings.”

Results

Through the use of PathoSans’ systems, GSF USA and the district realize the following benefits:

Eradicate pathogens of concern.

PathoSans solutions have demonstrated efficacy against human coronavirus and other viruses more resilient to disinfection. PathoCide has been proven by an independent GLP laboratory to inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 virus in 60 seconds on a pre-cleaned surface and in 10 minutes in a one-step process when produced by an on-site generator and used as directed. In addition to inactivating viruses, the solutions are also effective at killing a wide variety of bacteria and fungi. According to Mackall, “it’s easy to find cleaning chemicals that kill pathogens of concern. The challenge is finding chemicals safe enough to use every day. With PathoSans, we have effective and safe solutions.”

While the PathoSans solutions look like water, they are well-suited to tackle today’s viral, bacterial and fungal threats. PathoClean enables surface cleaning and biofilm removal ahead of disinfection to ensure workers can effectively kill or inactivate pathogens. Regular, long-term use of PathoClean helps restore hard surface finishes without leaving residues that can impact appearance and attract dirt.

Reassure students, parents and staff of the schools’ cleanliness.

The pandemic has resulted in fear regarding the cleanliness of public facilities. The district’s cleaning processes go a long way in reassuring faculty, students and parents that the district’s buildings are thoroughly cleaned with effective and non-irritating solutions. Adds Rajcevich, “with the help of GSF and PathoSans, I feel confident about having students return safely to Medinah School District.”

Enable opportunities for in-person learning.

The district’s buildings are being cleaned more frequently, making the use of environmentally responsible products crucial. Conventional chemicals can be toxic and corrosive and pose environmental and health hazards. With no added fragrances and three ingredients, PathoClean and PathoCide help preserve good indoor air quality and won’t aggravate conditions like allergies and asthma, creating a better learning environment for students and faculty.

Empower cleaning teams.

Custodial teams want to know that their work contributes to the overall success of the district. By using products that eliminate pathogens without compromising safety, employees feel empowered to do their best work so students can focus on learning. Luis Tovar, Branch Manager at GSF says: “Because of our partnership with PathoSans, I have what I need to do my job well. This is a safe environment where I feel confident working.”

“The PathoSans system has helped us create healthier learning environments across Medinah School District,” added Mackall. “We are using the best products available. Because they are responsible, effective and always available, PathoClean and PathoCide meet the needs of many and provide comfort for all.”

Why the Wellbeing of Cleaning Professionals is a Top Priority

From hospitals and long-term care facilities to schools, college campuses, and office buildings, custodians and building cleaners have been on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic ensuring all areas are cleaned and disinfected. Even before the pandemic, cleaning professionals worked tirelessly to keep facilities clean. Ensuring they have the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) or training is key to keeping them safe.

The pandemic is shining a spotlight on the important role that cleaning staff play in protecting public health and safety. It’s more important than ever to recognize the work they do and prioritize their needs. Facility managers who provide their cleaning staff with the right tools to complete their job safely and effectively will foster a loyal employee-employer relationship that minimizes turnover and increases morale.

Recognizing the Risks

When the pandemic hit, custodians and other cleaning professionals were at the highest risk of being affected by the virus due to their essential worker classification. Some custodians were expected to work long shifts without the proper PPE due to widespread shortages. In fact, the Service Employees International Union found that one in five of their members didn’t have gloves and two in five didn’t have face masks.

Expecting custodians to risk their lives by handling biohazards and caustic chemicals, and deal with strenuous and labor-intensive motions without the proper protection is unfair. We depend on cleaning professionals to keep our communities safe and it’s important that we recognize the risks they take each day just by coming to work.

Best Practices to Improve Employee Wellbeing

Consider implementing the below strategies to give in-house staff the support they deserve while reducing risk and turnover. If you work closely with a building service contractor (BSC) to support your facility’s cleaning needs, determine how well the organization lives up to these best practices.

Conduct thorough and regular training.

Training is one of the most important ways to improve your employees’ wellbeing. It should occur during the onboarding process and throughout their tenure to ensure that they are up to date with the most current procedures and information. The pandemic caused a disruption in the supply chain that resulted in many BSCs and facility managers exploring new cleaning chemical options and equipment. Custodial workers needed proper training on these products and technologies to avoid lapses in safety. Investing in education and reviewing your training program annually will result in a larger ROI, ensure consistent cleaning performance, reduce risk and improve employee retention.

Upgrade to non-toxic cleaning chemicals.

Traditional cleaning chemicals contain potentially toxic ingredients and strong fragrances that can aggravate conditions like allergies and asthma. Staff are cleaning more frequently than they were before, which is why it’s important to utilize an on-site generation (OSG) system to create non-irritating solutions with just water, salt and electricity. Otherwise known as electrochemically activated solutions (ECAS), the cleaner and disinfectant are compatible with one another and replace the majority of chemicals required to maintain a facility. This greatly limits the chances of employees creating unsafe chemical mixtures. Utilizing an OSG system also eliminates supply shortages that can result in staff having to use unfamiliar or unsafe chemicals.

Provide the proper PPE.

While using safer chemicals reduces reliance on PPE like gloves and eye protection, it is important for employers to give staff access to equipment that enhances peace of mind. This includes face masks in addition to disposable gloves and protective eyewear when needed. PPE adds an extra layer of protection against contagious viruses while also instilling confidence in building visitors that the facility takes their pandemic precautions seriously.

Offer continuing education and benefits.

Offering continuing education options, such as leadership courses through partnerships with local universities, shows your employees that you want to see them grow professionally within your organization. Give your employees additional educational opportunities by enrolling them in certification courses that expand upon best practices for maintaining safe facilities. Separately from cleaning and leadership courses, consider healthcare and 401(k) options that offer long-term benefits. This can set an organization apart from competitors, as most hourly employees in the cleaning profession do not have access to these benefits.

Show Your Appreciation

As custodians and cleaners continue their work on the frontline of the pandemic, managers can take steps to set their employees up for success. Providing training, safer chemical options, continuing education and rewarding benefits prove that an employer cares about employees. Showing your appreciation can promote a culture that values worker wellbeing and helps reduce employee turnover.

At GSF-USA, we’re proud to invest in our people and their wellbeing, now and after the pandemic. For more information, contact the GSF office nearest you. Follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for the latest updates.

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