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Hard Surface Floor Cleaning Manual – Do You Have One?

February 9, 2001
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A manual is your road map for cleaning. Without it, it will be difficult to hold the technician accountable for what they are expected to do.



There are three basic components of cleaning procedures: pre-cleaning procedures, the actual cleaning procedures, and the post-cleaning procedures. Pre-cleaning procedures are tasks that need to be handled before any cleaning can begin, the cleaning procedures is the cleaning itself, and post-cleaning procedures are those things performed after the cleaning is completed. All these procedures should be spelled out in your hard surface floor care manual. What’s that you say? You don’t have a hard surface floor care manual? Don’t feel bad because you’re not alone. Many cleaning companies that I provide training for do not have a hard surface floor care manual.

A manual is your road map for cleaning, and without it, you can easily get off track. Without a manual, you will also find it difficult to hold technician accountable for what they are expected to do.

My Vision

The vision I have for this column is to use it as a foundation to help enhance your present hard surface floor care manual and/or to develop a new manual. Therefore, over the next year, we’ll concentrate on the information needed to complete a manual.

The first couple of articles will require some effort on your part; however when we get to the actual cleaning procedures, you should be able to simply copy or cut out the page and insert it into a binder. With each article, we will get closer to finishing the manual. Although you may have to tweak some of the information to fit your specific needs, the basic information is universal and will be beneficial to you.

First Things First

When performing hard floor care, there are several things that need to be discussed prior to starting the job. Whether you are a building service contractor or an in-house cleaning technician, these things are important to the overall success of the job. Before discussing the procedures, there is some general information that should be included in your manual.

Introductions

The first section of any manual should includes some type of introduction to your company, its history, services offered, mission statement, and philosophy. Although much of this may be covered during the employee orientation, it never hurts to repeat yourself.

This is particularly important when introducing new employees to your company. When performing training procedures, it amazes me how many employees do not know anything about the company they are working for.

Before having a hard surface floor cleaning manual in place for my company (or even an orientation program), a customer once asked a relatively new employee if we could clean their carpet after we were done cleaning the hard surface floors. My employee responded by telling the customer that we did not perform that service. Oops! I learned from that mistake and vowed never to let it happen again.

General Information

After the introduction, include a general information section to include expectations, emergency information, abbreviations, definitions and safety information. This section should include a list of exactly what is expected from the technician. Again, although this may have been covered during the orientation, repetition never hurts.

The manual should be kept either at the job site or in the work vehicle.

The following are examples of what might be included in your expectations list.

    • Report to work 10 minutes before your shift starts and ready to work when your shift begins.

    • Report to work in uniform (including proper foot wear)

    • Be well groomed and present a professional image

    • Call if you are going to be late

    • Call (for whatever reason) four or more hours before your shift starts if you can’t make it

    • Call the office (for whatever reason) if you arrive to the job site and cannot clean

    • Report any accidents immediately

    • Not allow any unauthorized persons into the building (or area) while cleaning

    • Be kind, polite and courteous to all customers

    • Respect the customer’s property as if it were your own

    • Treat this company’s equipment, supplies and materials as if it were your own.


    Emergency Information

    Do you have an emergency plan? Do you and your technicians know what to do in case of an emergency? Do you know how to perform general first aid? Do you have an understanding of universal precautions and blood borne pathogens? Are you and your technicians trained on the OSHA Hazardous Communication Standard? If so, congratulations! If not, these issues should be addressed and spelled out in your manual.

    Also included in this section should be a list of emergency phone numbers, as well as pager numbers and cell phone numbers. This list should include the obvious 911, plus the general police and fire department, poison control center, sheriff, supervisors, managers, owner and customer contact numbers. Furthermore, technicians need to know the following about each account they clean:

    • How to use the customer’s phone system, and access an outside line

    • Emergency exits locations

    • Fire extinguishers locations

    • First aid kits, eye washes and nurses stations locations

    • Alarms and alarm codes

    • Location of the light switches, breaker/fuse boxes

    • Although not necessarily an emergency item, where is the custodial closet and/or water source?


    Terms, Abbreviations and Definitions

    Many companies use certain terms, phrases and abbreviations that should be included in this section of the manual as well. For example Vinyl Composition Tile is often abbreviated as “VCT.” Some companies describe scrubbing as “performing a top scrub” or as “deep surface cleaning,” and stripping is called “salvage” or “restorative cleaning.” The conventional floor scrubber has many different names from the 175 rotary floor-scrubbing machine, swing machine, side-by-side and standard floor machine.

    One of my goals, and the goal of the IICRC FCT committee, is to develop a glossary of terms in hopes of standardizing the language used in our industry. Until then, whatever terms, phrases, and abbreviations you use should be spelled out and listed.

    It’s very important that everybody in the company is speaking the same language. This will add creditability and professionalism to what you are doing and prevent confusion.

    Safety

    Finally, no manual would be complete without a section on safety. Include a list of needed safety equipment, a word about chemical safety and how to work safely.

    Summary

    As stated earlier, there is some initial work on your part in putting together a manual, however in the long run it will be well worth the effort. After it is completed, you only need to maintain it with regular reviews and updates. Speaking from experience, it will take little effort if done routinely.

    Training is a major component of a successful organization. Studies and common sense tell us that a trained employee is a valued employee. Properly trained employees reduce turnover, absenteeism, injuries and worker compensation claims. Trained employees also have a higher sense of self-worth, a better attitude and are happier overall.

    Next month, I’ll discuss safety issues, including: the importance of equipment safety, the DOs and DON’Ts of chemical safety, and how to develop safe work habits. In the mean time, if you would like to comment on this article or add input of any kind, please feel free to contact me. Until next month take care, and thank you for all you do for our industry.

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