If you’re a frontline professional, you know the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the newly proposed American Rescue Plan provides economic assistance for custodians and other American workers, their families, and preserves jobs for American industries.
- Individuals with adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 will receive the full amount of the next $1,400 stimulus. This will be distributed automatically, with no action required for eligible individuals. To check the status of that payment visit IRS.com/GetMyPayment.
- This money would be in addition to the $600 payments that were approved by Congress in December and sent out earlier this month – for a total of $2,000. **Economic Impact Payments, or EIPs, –commonly referred to as “stimulus checks” or “recovery rebates”– are passed to help reduce the financial burden of COVID-19 on individuals and their families. The payments are an advance of a temporary credit for 2020 (which you file taxes for in 2021).
- The new COVID-19 Relief would also fund the hiring of 100,000 public health workers, nearly tripling the community health workforce. This would provide support to long-term care facilities experiencing outbreaks. Under the latest proposal, people who are sick or quarantining, or caring for a child whose school is closed, will also receive 14 weeks of paid leave to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The government will reimburse some employers with fewer than 500 workers for the full cost of providing the leave.
- The plan also calls on Congress to invest $170 billion in K-12 schools and higher education, including $130 billion for schools to safely reopen. The new plan also proposes an additional $160 billion for a national vaccine program, including $20 billion for distribution, and an additional $50 billion for expanded testing. This will provide extra funds to purchase rapid tests, expanding lab capacity and helping schools implement regular testing to support reopening.
We understand the past year has been extremely difficult for custodians and other front-line professionals who have been over-extended trying to keep everyone safe, and we are thankful for your continued hard work.
As we continue to learn more, we will help to keep you up-to-date on information regarding COVID-19 relief and how it affects education and healthcare. The plan is still waiting for final approval from Congress, which requires a majority vote. Budget rules may prevent the Covid-19 relief from passing in its entirety, and some pieces may be restructured. For more of the latest information click HERE.
Floor equipment and vacuum cleaners are similar to any other equipment you use, they are more reliable the more you take care of them. One way to cut expenses is to maintain and perform light repairs on cleaning equipment you use routinely. We have a dedicated team of specialists that are at your disposal, which will help you to develop a preventative maintenance program. In the mean time, there are minor maintenance best practices you can do routinely to help control cleanliness levels & reduce your repair costs.
Some common issues with equipment are machines not running, inadequate solution flow, poor water pick up, (and the list goes on). It’s no secret equipment is an expense and requires maintenance, but investing in training your staff on best practices and ways to improve cleanliness will help you get the most out of your equipment.
Wet & Dry Vacs
- Wet vacs require flushing and for your squeegee to be frequently checked as needed. Your squeegee assembly requires to be rinsed and cleaned, and for proper storage after use. Make sure to clean vacuum ports and squeegees before soils dry. Wipe down each part of your wet vac after use and lubricate moving parts if necessary. After you’re done using your squeegee make sure its stored properly.
- Dry vacs require you to replace vacuum bags often (depending on usage), and cleaning out any debris from the brush compartment helps your vacuum to perform better. Check equipment filters, brush rollers, pads, and strips, and replace these as needed.
- For both wet and dry vacs, examine and replace damaged plugs as needed. Check batteries of cordless equipment to ensure batter life and worker efficiency.
Autoscrubbers & Extractors
Rinse dirty water tanks and valves for your autoscrubbers and extractors. Making sure to grease fittings as needed, and maintaining the batteries helps to extend the life of your autoscrubber as well. With extractors it’s important that filters are examined and replaced as needed. Consider conducting on-site training or utilizing a LMS to train staff on how to remove debris from your machines as well. Making sure to check your electrical plugs for damage periodically can also help reduce chance of injury.
Click HERE for a troubleshooting guide.
Power cords are commonly damaged from improper storage and use. Don’t leave the cord unwrapped in storage, but instead store by your manufacturer’s guides. Examining and replacing cords as needed will help to ensure safety and reduce down-time waiting for your machine to be fixed. Wiping down these machines after each use will help to reduce cross-contamination, and be sure to store pad holders individually after you remove them.
As with any other floor equipment, if you’re using electric cord machines be sure to check the cord for damage and store your electric cords properly. Blow out your burnisher motor compartment regularly and examine and replace dust control shroud as needed. Training staff how to examine, test, clean, and fill batteries is essential to reducing your cost and improving efficiency when using battery equipment.
These are just some best practices to help prolong the life of your equipment. We are able to implement maintenance programs within your facility that will allow you to maximize your equipment investment through reduced downtime, increased productivity, enhanced equipment lifecycles, and lower operating costs. We have a fully stocked parts department with a parts inventory that is constantly changing to provide our customers with faster parts availability. We’re here to help assist you with routine maintenance, developing preventative maintenance programs, and staff training as needed.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON EQUIPMENT.
Cross contamination can cause the spread of germs and viruses, including COVID-19. Although healthcare workers are often trained on reducing cross contamination, custodial professionals are sometimes not given the same guidelines. A custodian in a school could wear the same gloves from restrooms to classrooms and easily spread germs. Harmful pathogens collected on gloves after cleaning one room are easily spread to another room. The first step in knowing how to reduce custodian cross-contamination is knowing some of the main causes of cross-contamination in the first place.
CDC GUIDELINES FOR INFECTION CONTROL
Custodial professionals are required to wear gloves when performing certain cleaning tasks. With the increased use of disinfectants during the pandemic, this is especially true. Pathogens can live on these gloves for long periods of time, as they do on any surface. Workers are usually given little to no direction on how to keep their gloves clean to prevent the spread of disease.
Mops and Floors
Pathogens can transfer from floors to patients or students if after walking on a contaminated floor people touch the bottom of their shoes and then their eyes, mouth, or nose. Mops are one of the main causes of contaminated floors. As soon as you start the cleaning process, mops begin to collect pathogens. Mops that are saturated with contaminants spread pathogens rather than remove them. Many of these disease causing pathogens can cause HAIs.
Contaminated towels are another common cause of cross-contamination, especially when used to clean high touch points. Cleaning equipment also becomes contaminated easily, including scrubbers and mop handles. Keep in mind which parts of your equipment are touched most frequently when cleaning and disinfecting your facility, anything that’s a high touch point has a higher chance of cross-contamination and spreading germs.
Stopping the Spread
Consider switching to a microfiber program to help reduce the chance of cross-contamination. There are microfiber rags and mops your facility can utilize. Using a microfiber mop eliminates the need to dip the mop in your mop bucket (the main cause of contamination). Using a cotton mop makes it harder to reduce cross-contamination since you’re constantly dipping your mop in contaminated water. Clean and disinfect high touch points routinely, especially between shifts. If a custodian has contaminated gloves and touches a mop handle, a spray nozzle, or a rag, then the next person will become contaminated even if they’re using new gloves.
The CDC recommends changing your gloves in these scenarios:
- change gloves after working with each patient
- change exam gloves as soon as possible when working with patients
- gloves should be changed whenever they are visibly soiled, punctured, or torn
- If using a color coded system, switch gloves after changing to a new color-coded product
- When going from one building to another or one floor to another
- After cleaning restrooms
Always remember to wash hands after gloves are removed to help further reduce the spread of germs. With the increased frequency of cleaning and disinfecting, and using PPE more frequently, it’s important to ensure you’re not being counterproductive with your efforts. We’re all in this together, and keeping in mind these tips to reduce cross-contamination will help to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
By now we’ve all heard of microfiber. We’ve given insight to its many advantages in our previous blogs (read more HERE). Microfiber has superior cleaning abilities, enhances worker productivity, and reduces long term cost by reducing chemical and water use. Although utilizing a microfiber program will reduce your long term cost, it requires an upfront cost. An issue for some facilities is mismanaging their microfiber program, which can lead to frustration and lower productivity. There are important steps to take when implementing and maintaining a microfiber program.
Where do I begin?
Determining how many microfiber rags and mops are needed for each custodian’s shift, conducting an audit of your facility to assess the microfiber needs. This program can be can be further individualized by taking into account size of their facility, average number of rooms cleaned, and general put through rates. Utilizing a check in/check out system in which cleaning staff retrieves their allocated number of rags and mops when grabbing their keys helps to reduce the likelihood of misplaced microfiber. At the end of their shift, staff can then check in the microfiber products they used for their shift to reduce the likelihood of accidentally taking product home. This also helps to consolidate your inventory and you can determine the amount of microfiber required for effective infection prevention.
It’s important for employees to understand the techniques and processes for using microfiber to make sure you’re capitalizing on the full benefits of a microfiber program. This will help reduce cross-contamination and exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. Utilizing an online training platform, or LMS, can reduce the time administrators spend facilitating training for current and new employees, and can give you insight into training retention. Having different colored microfiber for different areas and applications can also reduce the likelihood of cross contamination, and can simplify training/overcome language barriers.
Laundering & Proper Care Procedures
Laundry personnel should be required to understand protocols and recommendations for cleaning microfiber. Working with a managed microfiber program reduces the chance of cross-contamination and growth of harmful bacteria. Always read the label to follow any specific laundering instructions, and make sure fibers aren’t losing their effectiveness by following best practices. These include not mixing cotton with microfiber loads, not adding fabric softener when laundering microfiber, and avoiding bleach which can degrade microfiber fabric. Microfiber lasts up to 5x as long as reusable cotton rags and mops when taken care of correctly. This is important to know because higher quality microfiber products tend to cost more than conventional cotton products; however, their cleaning effectiveness and enhanced life span typically make them more cost-effective in the long run.
Choosing the Right Microfiber
As simple as it sounds: it’s important to keep in mind that the quality of your microfiber correlates with the health of your facility. If microfiber fabric has a low percentage of microfiber to the total composition split, uses foam backing or is unable to withstand high drying temperatures or chlorine bleach, it is likely to be less durable than higher quality microfiber. Quality microfiber is more effective in removing dirt from the surface, and requires less chemical for cleaning and disinfecting. This also reduces the amount of times necessary to wipe the surface. Ask your sales professional about which vendors offer top-performing microfiber.
As we are continuing to re-open schools, experiencing high-traffic in hospitals, and returning to work and travel, having a total solution for infection prevention is key. We’ve been highlighting steps to make a disinfection plan, another part of that plan is planning for what application you will be using. End users are interested in electrostatic sprayers now more than ever before. This method is highly efficient, but since it’s still newer technology you may have some questions. There are things to consider when choosing an electrostatic sprayer:
What is the charging technology?
When deciding between different electrostatic sprayers keep in mind if it charges the solution before or after it becomes a droplet. Charging a solution before it becomes a droplet holds a charge better, which means reduced transmission of germs and viruses. Ask your sales representative if the solution is charged in the tank, tip, or both. Charging by the tip doesn’t give 100% tip since flow rate is too fast. Look for an electrostatic sprayer that charges a solution before it becomes a droplet and charges in the tank or in the tip and tank rather than just the tip.
What size droplet does your nozzle spray?
Some electrostatic sprayers have 1 nozzle size, and others have multiple sizes. Dwell times can vary depending on the nozzle size, so if you’re looking for a quicker dwell time keep this in mind. If the nozzle size is under 40 microns then it’s classified as a fogger and extra precautions need to be taken to limit exposure to chemicals and ensure compliance.
Does your sprayer spray with a hydraulic pump or air fan atomization?
Atomization refers to separating something into fine particles. It’s the process of breaking a disinfectant solution into small droplets. Hydraulic atomization allows for better control over chemical solutions, air tends to have little control over the solution. What internal components are used inside sprayers is another important factor, and trying to keep your applications as chemical resistant as possible will help to ensure you’re disinfecting efficiently.
Take comfort and versatility into consideration
Anything over 90 decibels requires hearing protection, and anything over 30 pounds requires additional support per OSHA requirements. Taking comfort and versatility into consideration helps to reduce the likelihood of injuries on the job, and it allows your custodians to disinfect more time efficiently.
Sprayer systems are available in several designs, such as rolling cart systems, handheld sprayers, and backpack sprayers. Handheld and backpack models offer custodians flexibility but can be heavy when filled with liquid. Some sprayers use battery power to impart a charge on liquids, while others use a cord to draw power from a standard outlet plug. Although cords can pose an additional challenge, they provide consistent power and droplet charging, which results in better system performance. These are all factors to take into consideration when choosing a solution for your team.
Who is leading Infection Prevention in the Jan/San Industry?
It’s always a good idea to opt for a solution that has dedicated customer support and a warranty expert team ready to help whenever needed. Ask your Pike Sales Professional about webinars or any other questions when considering an electrostatic sprayer. Responsible manufacturers conduct testing of the entire system (the electrostatic sprayer paired with specific chemistries) to determine what PPE is needed as well as safety precautions to take for bystanders. Be careful of companies that claim you can spray any product with their system, they likely have not done adequate testing to ensure safety with all chemicals for custodians and bystanders.
For more OSHA guidelines when using electrostatic technology click HERE.