Restrooms: The Greatest Facility Maintenance Challenge

Restrooms are often one of the smallest areas in a facility, yet they often present the biggest challenge for facility managers. This is because restrooms see frequent use and their level of cleanliness can make or break a visitor’s first impression of a facility. Plus, it’s not feasible to clean restrooms after each guest. A visible mess or odor can occur within a span of several minutes and negatively impact the next guest’s experience.

According to the 2020 In-House/Facility Management Benchmarking Survey from Cleaning and Maintenance Management, restrooms are the most problematic surface/area for facility managers across all types of facilities, by more than double. From toilet clogs to overflowing trash receptacles to slippery floors, there are many issues that can arise. Given that 90% of U.S. adults think employers should deep clean workplace restrooms regularly, cleaning teams need to dedicate a significant focus of the cleaning program to restroom maintenance.

Germs, Bacteria, Viruses – Oh My!

Viruses and bacteria lurk on high-touch bathroom surfaces such as doorknobs, countertops, soap dispensers and toilet handles. According to a study in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 77,000 distinct bacteria and viruses can exist in restrooms.  These bacteria are more likely to spread after toilets are flushed because fecal matter is distributed into the air in aerosol form, commonly referred to as “toilet plume.” It then contaminates surfaces and potentially guests’ hands, thereby enabling these germs to spread from person to person.

Now more than ever, it’s vital to pay close attention to restroom maintenance. In June 2020, a survey from Tork revealed that 73% of people in North America felt more unsafe going to facilities with unhygienic public restrooms than before the pandemic. Now that the public is more aware of the risks associated with a lack of cleanliness, facility managers and their teams need to prioritize keeping these smaller spaces clean to ensure the biggest impact on guest satisfaction.

Strategies for Spectacular Restrooms

All aspects of restrooms must be considered when developing your cleaning strategy. Consider the following best practices to make your restrooms memorable:

Invest time in training employees.

Training employees is crucial for achieving the highest level of cleanliness and maintaining consistency across an entire facility or even several buildings. Many people incorrectly assume that the toilet is a restroom’s most unsanitary surface. In fact, many areas harbor high numbers of bacteria. Thus, it’s essential to train employees to clean and disinfect the less obvious surfaces, such as restroom stall walls and grab rails, which can become contaminated with pathogens. They should also learn the proper order for cleaning – top to bottom – to avoid cross contamination.

Set and follow a cleaning schedule.

Restrooms are high-traffic spaces that can harbor pathogens across many different surfaces. Germs can spread more easily if people are not practicing proper hand hygiene in these environments. The 2021 Healthy Handwashing Survey from Bradley Corporation found that nearly half (48%) of Americans admit to having simply rinsed their hands with water instead of washing with soap. Having a set schedule in place for cleaning, disinfecting and restocking restrooms can help limit the spread of germs by ensuring that guests have enough toilet paper, soap and paper towels to uphold cleanliness. Develop the schedule based on the facility’s typical traffic patterns. While some facilities are still experiencing lower-than-normal occupancies during the pandemic, restrooms must always be clean and ready for guests.

Incorporate sustainable cleaning chemicals.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused supply chain disruption and resulted in many cleaning professionals using products with which they were unfamiliar. Coupled with the fact that many facilities are cleaning more frequently, it’s important to understand their composition, as toxic ingredients and fragrances can negatively impact workers and restroom guests. Investing in an on-site generation (OSG) system that creates non-irritating solutions with just water, salt and electricity eliminates supply issues and enhances safety. The OSG system produces electrochemically activated solutions (ECAS) that are effective against pathogens, safe for the environment and can replace the majority of chemicals required to maintain a facility.

Clean Restrooms Create a Better Facility

Maintaining clean restrooms is essential for creating safe environments for facility occupants. By thoroughly training employees, regularly cleaning and disinfecting, restocking supplies as needed and implementing sustainable cleaning chemicals, you can control the presence and spread of germs and give restroom guests a great experience at every visit.

Keeping restrooms clean protects your brand reputation and your facility’s occupants.  Contact us to learn how we can support your cleaning needs and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for updates.

Easy Sustainability Swaps to Limit Cleaning’s Impact

Findings from a 2019 Pew Research Center survey reveal that 62% of Americans said that global climate change was affecting their local community a great deal or some. With the climate crisis becoming increasingly clear, more companies and consumers are doubling down on efforts to protect the planet. The owners and managers of commercial buildings have a responsibility to reduce the impact their facilities have on the environment. One way to accomplish this is to review your cleaning program in detail and identify ways to increase energy, chemical and water savings and reduce waste generation.

Simple Sustainability Swaps Support The Environment

The strategies below are easy changes that you and your team can make to realize big environmental improvements.

Generate solutions on site.

Cleaning programs generate high volumes of packaging waste and this has only increased during the pandemic as facilities disinfect more frequently. Rather than ordering chemicals in plastic bottles to be shipped and delivered to a site, some organizations are realizing the benefits of generating their own cleaning and disinfecting solutions in house that are dispensed into reusable containers. Using salt, electricity and water, on-site generators produce electrochemically-activated solutions (ECAS) that can be used to clean and disinfect numerous surfaces throughout a facility. Not only does this approach greatly reduce plastic waste and packaging costs, but it also eliminates transportation emissions tied to these shipments. In addition to curbing waste and outdoor pollution, ECAS also enhance indoor air quality because they do not contain any volatile organic compounds, fragrances or other irritants like many traditional cleaning chemicals do. Plus, ECAS are extremely effective at upholding cleanliness, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice performance in order to achieve sustainability.

Focus on floor care.

Keeping floors clean typically requires a lot of time and effort. Managing floor care manually can exacerbate the consumption of water and chemicals. Utilizing high-tech equipment like floor scrubbers, whether operated by a team member or robotic, can help reduce the use of these essentials. Look for machines that clean exceptionally with one pass to eliminate the need to reclean floors. Some equipment can even adjust the amount of solution delivered to floors as its speed changes. This can also save water and chemical.

Conduct the majority of cleaning during daytime hours.

Cleaning during daytime hours can help reduce reliance on lighting and HVAC systems at night. Energy for lighting, heating and cooling is about 19% of total expenditures for the typical commercial office building. While some cleaning may need to take place during evening hours, especially after all or most occupants leave a building, find ways for cleaning professionals to conduct high-priority and time-consuming tasks earlier in the day. This will make evening cleaning more efficient and allow facility managers to lower energy use overnight.

Make microfiber a must have.

Using microfiber cleaning cloths to address high-touch surfaces is preferrable to relying on disposable, one-time-use towels that end up in landfills. Microfiber is highly effective at removing germs from surfaces and can be laundered and reused numerous times. Designating certain cloths for use in different areas, like cafeterias and dining areas, restrooms and classrooms can help reduce cross contamination.

A Brighter and Greener Future

While the cleaning process has traditionally been very resource intensive, there is a movement to make it greener. Finding ways to make cleaning more sustainable benefits the environment and our future. And in many cases, implementing greener methods can help commercial facilities reduce costs by limiting waste generation and resource consumption. The above strategies are just a few ideas that facility managers can consider to enhance their organization’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

At GSF USA, we care about clean, our people and the planet. Our Écologique cleaning program is certified by Green Seal® and delivers a high-quality clean while also considering the environment. Contact us to learn more, and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for the latest company updates.

Top Tips for Training Cleaning Professionals

They say “practice makes perfect,” and in the cleaning industry, it is absolutely true. Quality training is essential to ensure both employee safety and consistent cleaning results. Without training, cleaning can be a dangerous job. With such a wide variety of chemicals, tools and equipment available within the industry, it’s extremely important that cleaning staff understand how to use them correctly to protect both themselves and building occupants who expect the highest levels of cleanliness.

Training to Clean for Health and Appearance

A comprehensive training program ensures that cleaning professionals are taught the proper techniques to prioritize cleaning for health, safety and appearance. Un-trained cleaning staff can do more harm than good by spreading germs around a facility, which puts both occupants and themselves at risk. Improper cleaning can also negatively impact the indoor air quality (IAQ) in a facility which affects all building occupants as well. Ongoing training is the basis to ensure that cleaning professionals are armed with the experience and knowledge to provide reliable, consistent and safe cleaning results.

Consider the following best practices to adequately train and develop both new and tenured cleaning professionals on your team:

Set cleaning expectations.

Be sure to provide a detailed list of cleaning expectations and specifically outline tasks and responsibilities. Reinforce all onboarding training with refresher courses. This will ensure even the most seasoned employees stay engaged and informed regarding any new cleaning procedures and protocols. In addition, consistently review personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements to make sure all employees know what is specifically required to protect themselves while on the job.

Offer in-depth chemical safety and tool training.

Prior to using any chemical, tool or piece of equipment, it is vital to provide staff with a thorough training. The training should include what it is, why it is used and how to use it correctly. Doing so will help reduce the risk of injuries and infections, as well as ensure cleaners are following safety laws. Using a color-coded system to match tools, chemicals and labels helps simplify the process, especially for multi-lingual employees. This will make it easier for cleaners to perform their jobs and prevent cross contamination.

Provide hands-on training.

There are numerous ways to train employees including videos, demonstrations and literature, but always be sure to include an adequate amount of time for hands-on training. This type of training enables cleaners to try out tasks for themselves, learn from mistakes and receive feedback prior to working in the field. This will provide them with experience and confidence needed to meet and exceed cleaning expectations. Following training, shadow both new and tenured employees occasionally to ensure they are correctly following protocol and provide immediate constructive feedback.

Empower employees.

Training sessions are a great time to boost employee morale and ensure that employees feel valued and essential. Promote a positive environment where questions are always welcomed and encouraged. This will help attendees continue to learn, grow and retain information. Including a little fun in your training sessions with an ice breaker game, a contest or a nice meal will also set a positive tone. Empowering employees and making sure every voice is heard can significantly boost morale and reduce employee turnover that can lead to lapses in consistent cleanliness.

Review the training process frequently and ask for employee feedback.

Review your training process at least annually to ensure that you continue to meet the needs of both your employees and building occupants. Cleaning technology, chemicals and tools are constantly evolving and training techniques need to be updated to coincide with any changes. In addition, ask for employee feedback after a training session through a questionnaire or anonymous form. This will provide the best insight on how to improve your approach to training and how to cater to the training styles that employees prefer.

A Commitment to Cleanliness

Cleaning has been propelled into the spotlight for its role in infection control during the pandemic, but training has always been the foundation of consistent, reliable cleanliness. Now is a great time to review and refresh your training program to ensure it is up to date to continue providing employees with a safe, enjoyable work environment and delivering cleanliness for building occupants every day.

At GSF USA, we care about clean and the people who deliver it. Training and development help our employees achieve the highest levels of professionalism so they can uphold cleanliness for our customers. Contact us to learn more, and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for the latest updates.

How to Celebrate Custodians on National Custodial Worker’s Recognition Day and Every Day

Day in and day out, custodians make building occupants’ lives easier and safer. They do this all while performing risky and labor-intensive jobs. They’re required to complete tasks that expose them to potentially dangerous chemicals and physical injuries such as muscle strain. But they also manage the things we often take for granted, like full soap dispensers, stocked toilet paper and clean floors.

Custodians are the unsung heroes in schools, office buildings and many other commercial facilities. They show up to work each day and keep environments clean and building occupants safe and healthy. The COVID-19 pandemic shined an even brighter spotlight on just how important these essential workers are.

October 2 is National Custodial Worker’s Recognition Day, and now more than ever, custodians are incredibly deserving of recognition. As the pandemic continues to present challenges, it’s important to remember that custodians should be shown appreciation not just on National Custodial Worker’s Recognition Day, but every day.

Showcasing your Support

Custodians continue to go above and beyond to protect the health and well-being of building occupants. Consider the following strategies for showing your appreciation for your custodians every day.

Provide opportunities for training.

Training is the backbone of successful cleaning programs. Whether you’re a building service contractor (BSC) or have an in-house team, providing training opportunities is a way to demonstrate your investment in your people. It supports employee health and enhances performance. Provide hands-on training with the products and technologies cleaning professionals will use to reduce safety risks and ensure consistent cleaning performance.

Invest in quality tools and equipment.

Employees will feel valued if they’re equipped with high-quality tools and equipment that helps them perform their jobs better. If equipment is outdated or poorly maintained, workers may feel that their role is not a priority, and this could impact cleaning results. Take a close look at your inventory and determine where improvements and investments can be made so that employees have all the essentials for efficient and effective cleaning.

Use safe and sustainable cleaning chemicals.

With custodians cleaning more frequently than ever, opting for cleaning chemicals without potentially toxic ingredients or fragrances may help reduce the risk of conditions like asthma, allergies, eye irritation and skin rashes. Install an on-site generation (OSG) system that creates safer solutions with water, salt and electricity, otherwise known as electrochemically activated solutions (ECAS). The cleaners and disinfectants are compatible, which avoids the possibility of employees mixing unsafe chemicals, and do not contain any fragrances, caustic preservatives or additives.

Offer leadership development and employee benefits.

Most employees want to know their employer cares about them and that their job has the potential to be a rewarding career. Providing educational courses that promote leadership development shows your employees you want to see them grow professionally within the organization. Many custodians are risking their lives each day without decent pay or benefits. Consider offering benefits such as healthcare and 401(k) options separately from leadership courses to attract and retain talent.

Leverage small gestures for a big impact.

Sometimes, the smallest gesture can go a long way. Consider giving your custodians a handwritten thank you note that highlights your favorite characteristics that they have and include a small gift card. Have managers monitor employees as they clean and continually provide positive feedback on their performance to build their confidence. You can also throw a small celebration featuring free food, team building activities and even awards to honor their hard work. Whether it’s a party or a physical gift, your custodian will feel appreciated that their employer considers their mental and emotional wellbeing.

Thank a Custodian Today

As custodians keep facilities in top shape, take time out of your day to show them you notice their hard work, whether it’s on Custodial Worker’s Recognition Day or any other day. While they’ve always been critical players in keeping facilities clean and safe, they’ve continued to transcend their responsibilities and go beyond their job descriptions during the pandemic. Showing appreciation in small ways, as well as implementing long-term positive changes can help cleaning professionals feel supported and minimize turnover.

At GSF USA, we care about clean and the people behind the clean. Contact us to learn more, and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for more best practices.

GSF USA Uses Microfiber Mops for a Better Clean

Hinsdale Central High School is an approximately 500,000-square-foot facility that requires frequent floor care to look its best. To support the cleaning team on site, GSF USA implemented the Adaptable Flat Mop from Rubbermaid Commercial Products, which removes 99.7% or more of tested viruses and bacteria and is 70% lighter weight when fully soaked vs. a traditional string mop.

Download the full case study to learn more about the results: GSF Rubbermaid Case Study

Taking Carpet Care in Schools to New Heights

Opportunity

Valley View School District 365U in Romeoville, Illinois is comprised of approximately 24 buildings, serves over 16,000 K-12 students and employs 2,400 full-time faculty. Valley View School District works with a diverse population of students and faculty to foster a sense of inclusive learning and safety for all. Partnering with GSF USA, a global cleaning services company, helps Valley View keep their buildings clean and safe so students and teachers can focus on learning and teaching, all while staying healthy. Disinfected and sanitized buildings are key for keeping students and staff healthy all year long.

Matt Pawlowski is the Building Maintenance Repair Technician for the Valley View Administrative Building, where Whiz, an autonomous vacuum sweeper by ICE Robotics and SoftBank Robotics, is deployed. He says challenges for his team and the GSF cleaning team are “the added amounts of disinfecting and sanitizing that staff have taken on, with limited amounts of time.”

The Administrative Building is made up of 33 offices, six conference rooms, and four break rooms. There is a lot of vacuuming, disinfecting, sanitizing and cleaning that has to be done every day. Miguel Barajas is the Branch Manager for GSF at Valley View. He oversees GSF cleaning staff across the district and says, “the usual challenge is not enough time to do all the tasks that need to be completed on a daily basis.”

Carpet Care in Schools

Because GSF has seen success with Whiz at other locations, it led them to identify the Valley View Administrative Building as a perfect spot to deploy Whiz to handle soft surface cleaning. The autonomous vacuum sweeper uses an AI platform to deliver a higher quality, more efficient clean. Plus, it offers proof of performance that carpet care tasks are being completed.

The Administrative Building has over 8,000 square feet of cleanable carpet. Bringing on Whiz was the best way to meet demand and free up cleaning staff to focus on higher priority tasks. While following its routes, the robot avoids people and other obstacles like furniture. It cleans up to 15,000 square feet per charge and notifies operators when it is done operating.

Grant Mackall, Branch Manager at GSF says, “with Whiz we’re looking to automate the simplest of tasks and vacuuming big areas is a simple task that doesn’t require specialized skills. We are able to free up time for workers to focus on detailed tasks.”

Results

Since adding Whiz to the cleaning team at Valley View Administrative Building, Matt Pawlowski has seen results and so have others using the building. With Whiz, detail work has improved, cubicles look cleaner and Pawlowski has noticed visibly cleaner glass–there aren’t any streaks and finger prints. This is because cleaning staff have been able to focus more on specialized tasks.

Miguel points out that, “before Whiz, we were vacuuming [the hallways and lobbies] two hours every night.” Since adding Whiz, the team has freed up 1.25 hours each night to focus on the detail work. That’s an extra 6.25 hours a week and 25 hours each month that can be spent on more specialized tasks to improve the overall clean. He adds, ”Whiz is helping us to achieve our goals by freeing time for our cleaners to be able to do other things and increase productivity, and we see better results.”

Download the case study: GSF USA and Whiz at Valley View School District_Case Study

How GSF USA Maintains Beautiful Floors

GSF USA Maintains Beautiful Floors with 3M™ Scotchgard™ Stone Floor System 

Challenge 

Terrazzo installers have been installing Terrazzo floors to a 200-grit level for too long, which then requires facility maintenance personnel to regularly add finish to floors to uphold its appearance. While this floor finish can have high gloss upon initial application, the gloss gradually decreases when exposed to consistent foot traffic. Over time, floor finish scratches show black scuff marks and has dirt embedded into its top layers. 

The typical cycle of maintaining floor finish involves cleaning, burnishing, scrubbing and re-coating. This is repeated until the coating is so dirty or yellow that it must be stripped entirely and re-coated.  

GSF USA, a global cleaning services company, sought a better way to care for Terrazzo floors in its customers’ buildings, including Valley View School District, which consists of 25 buildings totaling approximately 2.5 million square feet, and Hinsdale Township High School District 86 with over 4,000 students. 

“This floor care process can be time consuming and labor intensive, especially if it has to be repeated often,” said Kurt Kuempel, General Manager, GSF USA. “Foregoing proper floor finish maintenance negatively impacts the look and lifespan of flooring, and can also take a toll on the visitor experience and brand reputation.” 

Solution 

An essential factor in the efficient operation of a school district is a well-organized, responsive building operations and maintenance department. Working with 3M™, a market leader in floor care, GSF USA implemented a system that physically polishes the Terrazzo using Trizact abrasives and traditional janitorial equipment. The clarity of the polish has a significantly different look than floor finish.  

After the floor is polished, GSF USA adds 3M™ Scotchgard™ Stone Floor Protector, which leverages a hybrid technology that densifies, impregnates and works as a wear layer that is more scratch resistant than floor finish. The floor protector will look better longer and is designed to stand up to even the most high-traffic environments. 

Results 

With 3M™ Scotchgard™ Stone Floor System, GSF USA realizes the following benefits: 

Improved appearance of floors.

The floor protector provides a long-lasting, glossy, natural-looking floor that is less susceptible to scuffs, black marks, stains and scratches. According to Tim Donohoe, Site Supervisor at Hinsdale Central High School, “the finished results are excellent and the appearance of a clean and shiny floor is very noticeable. I applaud GSF for having the expertise to do this work in a professional manner.” 

Simplified maintenance.

Not only does this system enhance the aesthetic of these high-traffic buildings, it also requires far less maintenance compared to floor finish. It is swift and easy for GSF USA’s team to spot repair damaged areas. 

Safer buildings for occupants and visitors.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), floors and flooring materials are responsible for more than two million fall injuries each year. The result is billions of dollars in medical, insurance and litigation costs. In just two coats, 3M™ Scotchgard™ Stone Floor Protector creates an NFSI Certified High Traction surface that can help prevent slips and falls. 

Environmentally friendly floor care.

With the stone floor system, there is no stripping or deep scrubbing required. This eliminates staff and building occupant exposure to and environmental release of potential hazardous stripping chemicals. 

“The ‘before’ and ‘after’ results with 3M™ Scotchgard™ Stone Floor System are incredible,” added Kuempel. “Our team members appreciate how easy it is to use and maintain, and that our customers notice the difference in appearance.” 

 Download the PDF here: GSF_3M_Case Study

How to Vet a Cleaning Service Provider

Building service contractors (BSCs) are instrumental in working with facility managers to keep buildings worldwide clean. From schools and universities to airports and convention centers, BSCs implement teams of professionals, sometimes alongside in-house custodial crews, to conduct floor care, surface disinfection, restroom cleaning and more. Because the quality of service provided by a BSC can have a noticeable impact on a facility’s image and brand reputation, facility managers must carefully vet cleaning providers. Managers can find the perfect fit by clearly outlining their goals and values and then delving deeper into how the BSC plans to uphold cleanliness, sustainability and safety.

Focus on Five Must-have’s

To narrow the field to BSCs that are the best of the best, facility managers can look for a cleaning service provider that fulfills these five key tenets:

  • Use sustainable chemicals. The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, notes that 53% of assessed cleaning products contain ingredients that can harm the lungs. Additionally, 22% of cleaning products contain chemicals that cause healthy individuals to develop asthma. This is concerning given how frequently cleaning professionals in commercial environments use solutions to clean and disinfect. Ensuring their safety is paramount. BSCs should opt for cleaning chemicals that don’t put employees in harm’s way. Solutions should be non-irritating and eliminate the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. Products that are free of fragrances, dyes and other additives are ideal. Some BSCs take their sustainability commitment further by using electrochemically-activated solutions (ECAS) made from water, salt and electricity with an on-site generation (OSG) system. The cleaner and disinfectant solutions are effective against a wide range of bacteria, viruses and fungi. They also enable cleaning teams to continuously refill spray bottles using the OSG system, reducing plastic waste.
  • Conduct regular training. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates that unknown threats can emerge without warning. As new pathogens, technologies and tools arise, cleaning professionals need to stay updated on the best methods for cleaning and disinfecting. Discuss with the service provider if they conduct ongoing training with staff and in-house cleaning teams. A commitment to education can improve cleaning performance by ensuring employees have opportunities to learn and ask questions.
  • Adopt high-tech equipment. Using innovative, reliable and well-maintained equipment helps uphold cleanliness, improve productivity, reduce costs and support sustainability goals. For example, high-tech equipment like robotic scrubbers and vacuums handle time-consuming floor care tasks and allow staff to address other important manual duties. Determine what types of equipment the service provider will use at your facility and inquire about their performance testing processes. Ask about anticipated decibel levels and how the implemented technologies might affect IAQ, water and chemical consumption and cleaning staff.
  • Endorse or provide environmentally sourced consumables. From cleaning chemicals to toilet paper to soap, commercial buildings continually require supplies to run smoothly.  Sustainable consumables are key to reducing a building’s environmental footprint and there are an increasing number of high-quality and sustainable options for consumables. Ask service providers about their process for sourcing consumables to understand their commitment to reducing the impact that facility maintenance has on the planet.
  • Offer leadership development.
  • Leadership development helps keep employees engaged, thereby reducing the risk of accidents, enhancing the consistency of results and limiting turnover. Identify a BSC that invests in its employees through leadership development. Helping employees grow and guiding them to manage others brings the quality of the entire team to new heights. In addition to its safety, quality and retention benefits, development opportunities contribute to greater productivity, sustainability and morale.

Building Successful Partnerships

Facility managers and building service contractors work together to keep facilities looking their best day and night. The most successful partnerships are those built upon aligned goals and values. Additionally, identifying a BSC that understands the facility’s exact needs and challenges ensures that guests and building occupants will always be greeted with cleanliness. To ensure a strong partnership, look for a BSC that believes in the five tenets above. Doing your due diligence will give you greater peace of mind that your facility is in the right hands.

At GSF USA, we care about clean and the planet. Our Écologique cleaning program is certified by Green Seal® and offers a high-quality, safe and sustainable clean. Contact us to learn more, and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for the latest updates.

Enhancing Food Safety through your Cleaning Program

Each year, we celebrate National Food Safety Month in September to reflect on how food safety impacts our everyday lives and discover best practices for preventing food poisoning. Without cleanliness, food safety is impossible to maintain in our homes and commercial facilities like restaurants, schools, hospitals and offices with corporate cafeterias. Read on to learn about the burden of foodborne illness and strategies for limiting their occurrence.

Taking a Bite Out of Foodborne Illness

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 6 Americans fall ill, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die annually because of contaminated food. There are numerous ways that food can be tainted. For instance, some of the ingredients may be past their expiration date or the food may not have been stored at the proper temperature. Additionally, soiled surfaces, like counters and cutting boards, can cross-contaminate food products. Even after food is prepared or cooked, it can be contaminated by dirty hands.

Cleanliness and hygiene play a critical role in curbing the incidence of foodborne illness. Facility managers and their teams are instrumental in keeping facilities clean and encouraging proper behaviors among building occupants and visitors.

Four Tips for Food Safety

Avoid food safety fails by following these cleanliness best practices:

Strategically place hand hygiene solutions.

Dirty hands spread germs, so giving people the chance to keep their hands clean is critical. Have hand soap dispensers stocked and easily accessible in food preparation areas like kitchens. Ensure soap and hand sanitizer are available in restrooms, as people often use them before or during dining. In areas where food is consumed, like cafeterias, break rooms and meeting rooms, place hand sanitizer dispensers where people will notice and use them. Whether you opt for wall-mounted or floor stand dispensers, consider automated versions to limit contact and the spread of germs.

Address high-touch surfaces.

In areas where many people gather to eat together, such as dining halls and cafeterias, there’s an increased risk that germs will build up over time. This is accelerated when people do not have clean hands and come in contact with shared objects. High-touch items in these environments can include napkin and condiment dispensers, food trays, counters, tables, chairs, and benches. Cleaning professionals should first clean surfaces and then disinfect them to address remaining pathogens. Be sure that your disinfectant has been proven effective against pathogens like E. coli, Salmonella and Norovirus so you can be confident that it addresses foodborne illness culprits. Meanwhile, cleaning top to bottom is an essential method for keeping recently addressed surfaces clean.

Use color-coding.

Too often, pathogens from restrooms or kitchens make their way to other areas of a building simply through the process of cleaning. How does this happen? Using the same equipment, like mops and microfiber cloths, to address both spaces can quickly transfer germs. Cleaning professionals should have duplicates of their tools to avoid this cross-contamination. A color-coded system makes it easy to designate one set for restrooms, one for food preparation areas and another for dining areas. Folding and replenishing microfiber cloths once they’ve trapped dirt, dust, and moisture keeps soils from spreading onto other surfaces.

Keep floors clean.

Floors are typically exposed to higher levels of dirt since they are heavily trafficked. Commercial floor care equipment like scrubbers and sweepers helps maintain the appearance of floors by removing soils and debris and rinsing them with chemicals. Not only do clean floors support food safety by elevating overall cleanliness, they also send the right message to visitors. Dirty floors can signal a lack of attention to health and safety. Meanwhile, clean floors demonstrate that a facility cares about its guests and that this level of care extends to its food safety promise.

The Benefits of Clean Eating

A commitment to cleanliness in your facility keeps pathogens from spreading onto high-touch surfaces like desks and tables; door handles and elevator buttons, vending machines and more. Fewer germs leave fewer opportunities for foodborne illnesses to occur. In office settings, reducing food poisoning absences helps maintain productivity and morale, while in schools, it ensures that teachers and students are always ready for their lessons. Prioritizing cleanliness from the start can also help facilities avoid costly cleanings that typically take place after a widespread foodborne illness outbreak. Overall, a focus on food safety benefits everyone, from facility managers to building occupants to visitors.

Cleanliness and food safety are a perfect pairing. Our use of safe, sustainable cleaning and disinfecting solutions is ideal for every facility. Contact GSF USA to learn more, and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for more best practices.

People Make the Difference at GSF USA

At GSF USA, our people are the driving force behind cleanliness at our customers’ facilities. Whether they are day porters, supervisors, branch or area managers, or work in our offices, they are responsible for upholding our high standards and maintaining customer satisfaction.  

Some of our cleaning professionals are maintaining schools to keep children, teachers, administrators and visitors safe. Others are diligently cleaning and disinfecting commercial office buildings so employees can feel more confident while at work. And still others are overseeing cleanliness in medical offices and hospitals where health is paramount.  

This quarter, we are celebrating 10 more milestone anniversaries among our team. Some employees have hit the five-year mark, others are achieving 15 years and one long-time team member is noting a silver anniversary for 25 years of service with GSF.  

Congratulations and thank you to our loyal employees at GSF USA!  

25th Anniversary  

  • Gabriel Barajas, GSF Illinois 

15th Anniversaries  

  • Cesar Alcaraz, GSF Indiana 
  • Jose Diaz, GSF Indiana  

5th Anniversaries  

  • Daisy Carvajal, GSF Illinois 
  • Dulce Zarate, GSF Indiana 
  • Juan Palacios, GSF Indiana 
  • Roiel Olverson, GSF Ohio 
  • George Price, GSF Illinois 
  • Rosario Suarez, GSF Illinois 
  • Wendy Inestroza, GSF Illinois  
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