August 29, 2012
'Silly' Safety Campaigns Mean Serious Business
I was a young kid when I first encountered a formal safety program.
It was the late 70's and early 80's. Growing up in a family of 13 children
(8 girls, 5 boys), it was pretty much mandatory that we all had full time
jobs in the summer and part time jobs in the winter. One of my father's
best friends was Joseph Chairge. Joe was a compassionate, hard charging
individual who had started his own construction company and had managed to
take down the maintenance contract for an enormous Proctor & Gamble facility
located in Mehoopany, Pennsylvania. Joe would always find room for my
brothers and I on his construction crews. The work was tough but it paid
top dollar and we were very fortunate to have Joe looking out for us.
If Proctor & Gamble executives understood anything, they understood safety.
Since the mile-long factory was a paper mill, there were plenty of
potentially dangerous work situations. From hard chemicals used to pulp the
timber to miles of piping and machinery, if you weren't careful, you could
But P&G made sure that safety was drilled into everyone's heads.
At first, my brothers and I thought it was funny. One of the leading
characters in their safety program was "Safety Sadie."
Posters were everywhere saying things like, "Safety Sadie says don't go in
Area B15 without your Personal Proctective Equipment" or "Safety Sadie says
if it sounds like a dumb idea, it probably is!" Being the wits that we
were, we joked about Safety Sadie. We thought it was the silliest campaign
Until we actually saw a couple of workplace accidents where co-workers got
hurt and we sobered up pretty quickly.
Now, at Combat Cleanerz, we're "just" cleaners. How dangerous can that be?
Our response to that is if we are working carelessly, if we are not
constantly aware of our surroundings as we move through our clients'
facilities, it can be very dangerous.
When you mop a cafeteria floor, do you use wet floor signs?
When you are vacuuming and your vac has a cord, are you constantly aware of
any pedestrian traffic around you so that no one trips on the power cord?
If you have to pick up a full bucket and dump it into a janitor's sink, are
you lifting carefully and properly so you don't hurt your back?
Do you feel like you are rushing through your shift to get done? We try to
workload each stop carefully so none of us should feel overwhelmed by the
amount of work expected during one shift.
All of these things add up and need to be on our minds as we work.
My point is this: safety is not just about watching a video or tying your
Safety is a state of mind. Everything we do as we work needs to be informed
by that state of mind.
Remember, Safety Sadie sez.................
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April 10, 2012
The floor of the future
Call us old fashioned but as Building Service Contractors, we spend a lot of time thinking about floors.
Night in and night out, we sweep them, we mop them, we strip and refinish them and we burnish them. In our humble opinion, a well maintained floor is a minor work of art. As a result, we are always on the lookout for the “ultimate” flooring.
While attending the 2010 BSCAI Convention in Orlando recently, one flooring type that definitely caught our eyes was polished concrete. To make this flooring, concrete is mixed with a chemical densifier and then sanded or ground with progressively finer grinding tools. The use of dyes in the mixture creates a wide and stunning array of design options. Given the flexibility and sustainibility of the product, polished concrete has gained acceptance in a wide array of commercial and residential building applications.
Price wise, it is comparable to VCT or carpeting. Maintenance wise, it requires mopping with a neutral cleaner and some polishing every couple of years. Since it’s concrete, it lasts forever.
Appearance wise? Take a look at some of these photos and judge for yourself. For more photos and informtion, check out www.concretenetwork.com.
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April 9, 2012
Do you know what’s in your cleaning products?
At Combat Cleanerz, we read labels. Whether it’s food or cleaning product, we won’t buy products with the wrong ingredients.
The next time you’re buying a cleaning product for your home or office, do yourself a favor. Read the label and if it contains any of the following, don’t buy it.
The product should be free from harmful fumes, non-toxic and it should be free of V.O.C.’s (volatile organic compounds).
We are proud to use Shaklee cleaning products for every job, everyday. The Shaklee Corporation follows this simple list to ensure that no toxins are used and no toxic residues are left behind by any of their cleaning products:
No harsh fumes
Naturally sourced ingredients
No chlorine bleach
By adhering to this list and exclusively using Shaklee’s cleaning products we’re helping you create a safer working environment for your staff.
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April 9, 2012
Eddie the Salesman and the ‘Superchemical’
By Mike Kelley
Early on in the ancient history of Combat Cleanerz, I allowed myself to be persuaded to purchase an off the shelf, standard “professional” cleaning
I forget the name of it. The chemical industry gives such strange names to their cleaning products – like “HandiWipe” or “InstaClean” or “SparkleBright!” They all sound so bright and optimistic and yet incredibly weird at the same time.
The salesman – Eddie - assured me that it was an awesome cleaner, that it could be used everywhere and was the healthiest cleaning agent known to mankind. Eddie guaranteed me that it would clean walls, windows, sinks, toilets, floors, ceilings and in a pinch, would peel the potatoes and answer the phone. And, it was only $38.50 a gallon! A real bargain.
Needless to say, I left the chemical store with a smile, proudly thinking that I had just purchased the key to cleaning success. Our clients (I think we had 3 of them back then if we don’t include my mother’s house) could rest assured that Combat Cleanerz was going to give them an environmentally safe and toxin free workplace.
Everything felt great until the next evening when we were cleaning at the first stop. As we began to use the new superchemical to clean some cafeteria tables, I noticed a slight burning sensation in my nose.
“Huh,” I thought confidently to myself, “this must be a great cleaner if I can smell it like that. Must really pack a punch. Wow, you’re really smart, Mike, for buying this stuff.”
As the evening progressed, the burning sensation stopped being “slight” and moved into “irritating.” And I noticed that whenever some of the superchemical got onto my skin, it kind of bubbled up and turned a weird whitish color. By the end of the night, the stops looked pretty clean but my nose was burning and I had a rash on my wrists.
I called up the Eddie salesman the next day and asked him about it.
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” he said. “That’s probably just the hydro-chlorite-butyl working away.”
“Well, is it supposed to do that? I mean, my skin hurts today and my nose still burns.”
“Now, Mike, you’re not supposed to inhale the stuff,” Eddie lectured me. “And for heaven’s sake, don’t let it get onto your skin.”
In that second, I knew that Eddie had never cleaned a day in his life. Some contact with the materials you’re using is inevitable. After I got off the phone, I took the nearly full gallon of the superchemical and poured it out. Bye-Bye $38.50.
From that day forward, we have used Shaklee cleaning products for all of our cleaning activities. They don’t smell, they don’t burn and they are completely biodegradeable.
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March 28, 2012
You don’t always have to kill germs- just get rid of them
Disinfection is a popular trend, and in many cases it is a necessary part of a basic cleaning routine. But if you are one who disinfects every day because of a fear of infectious viruses and sickness causing bacteria consider this: In just minutes after the disinfected surface is touched after a disinfectant is applied- the surface is contaminated again and you haven’t cleaned the surface at all. You have only applied a chemical (a pesticide by definition) that has temporarily killed the germs. Cleaning is something else entirely. Bacteria and other germs live on the salts, soils, oils and other organic deposits that are left on commonly touched surfaces like counter tops, tables, door knobs and faucets. By applying a non-toxic surfactant to any high-touch area the organic substances lose their grip on the surfaces that you are trying to clean. Then, a simple swipe of a microfiber cloth or paper towel removes millions of germs and micro-organisms. By keeping a surface clean, dry and free of organic deposits with a harmless, bio-degradable surfactant, microbial activity is dramatically inhibited and the surface is rendered clean.
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March 27, 2012
What Is A Point of Contact and Why Should I Clean It?
A Point of Contact is any surface that someone touches – usually with their hands – as they move through a space.
An obvious P.O.C. is a faucet on a sink.
Another obvious P.O.C. is a light switch.
How about the wall surface right near an alarm box where the person opening the building sleepily leans their left hand while typing with their right hand?
Door handles, door push plates, the glass around the handle at the entry door to the building, the countertop where Harry, who is trying to shake the flu, leaned while endeavouring to look suave in front of Mary who was was just hired last week. Elevator buttons and handrails and railings along stairs. All P.O.C.’s!
A doctor once told me that a good way to avoid catching a flu or cold was to not touch your eyes or your mouth so I guess even eyes and mouths qualify as P.O.C.’s!!
The germs and microbes which make us sick are mostly transmitted by hand to surface or hand to hand contact so it makes sense to routinely clean all Points of Contact.
Lastly, our most “unusual” P.O.C. comes from a recent study entitled, “Microbial Biogeography of Public Restroom Surfaces.”
Researchers at the University of Colorado used high faluting scientic techniques to study what kind of microbes lived on different surfaces in public restrooms. Their results were interesting but what alarmed me was this finding:
“Interestingly, some of the toilet flush handles harbored bacterial communities similar to those found on the floor (Figure 2, Figure 3C), suggesting that some users of these toilets may operate the handle with a foot (a practice well known to germaphobes and those who have had the misfortune of using restrooms that are less than sanitary).”
I am not even going to ask how many of us out there routinely flush toilets with our feet (that’s a little too much information, need-to-know-basis sort of thing) but I am going to suggest that the very existence of foot flushing toilet users among us makes it even MORE important that we routinely clean all Points of Contact.
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March 27, 2012
Not into going to the gym? Consider cleaning as
a regular exercise routine
Cleaners tend to be in pretty good physical shape. That’s because we move around for a living. Commercial cleaners walk, bend, carry extra weight, scrub, mop and wipe every day for anywhere between 3-6 hours a day. Movement is fundamentally important to a healthy body and cleaners do a lot of moving. In fact, one of our own cleaners recently reported that he has lost 50 llbs since starting with Combat Cleanerz almost 6 months ago.
Here is a short list of just some of the activities that our cleaners perform every night and the average amount of calories they can burn per activity:
• Vacuuming -
20 calories burned for every 5 minutes (even more if you are using a backpack vacuum).
• Taking out the trash – you will burn 43 calories for every 15 minutes of trash removal
• Mopping the floors – 61 calories burned for every 15 minutes
• Walking up the stairs – 28 calories per every 5 mins.
• Dusting furniture – 14 calories for every 5 minutes spent dusting
These are only average numbers. The more intensity that you add to these activities the more calories you’ll burn. Of course, it would be impossible to precisely calculate the amount of calories a commercial cleaner burns everyday while on the job as there are just too many variables. But based on an average weight of 150 lbs, the amount of calories being burned while performing these activities has been calculated time and time again.
So, if getting up in the morning for a visit to the gym or a jog around the neighborhood isn’t for you, consider the exercise you can get by adding a cleaning routine into your day. The more intense your cleaning routine- the more calories you’ll burn.
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March, 22 2012
What makes a janitor's closet complete?
In the eyes of a Combat Cleaner, these are a few of the mandatory things.
1. A general sense of neatness and organization. There is nothing
worse than opening the door to a Housekeeping Closet and witnessing an
Loose garbage bags thrown carelessly on the floor. A dazzling array of
cleaning supplies jumbled and scattered atop the shelves. Clean microfibers
tossed and crumpled in a heap. Several quart size bottles of the same
product which are quite empty yet were never thrown away.
Surveying such a closet, it is as if the janitors had been suddenly attacked
by Zombies at mid-night and chose to flee for their lives rather than put
anything away properly.
So each night, take a minute and put things away. Make sure the shelves are
organized. Are there old cleaning products left-over from days long ago
that are just taking up useful space? Take a second and look at the
appearance of the closet.
Don't worry about Zombies - there are no Zombies in our stops.
2. An adequate supply of things we need to do our jobs. Rather than
just stick your hand in and grab exactly what you need and rush off, take a
look at what supplies you have. Are you running low on Shaklee H2? Do you
have enough Shaklee Basic G, the quaternary disinfectant we use? Are you
about to run out of garbage bags or microfibers?
Each stop is re-stocked and inspected by a supervisor at least once per
week. If you are running low or are out of anything, text or call your
supervisor so he or she can make sure you have the right supplies to
properly do your job.
3. A Log Book. Each stop should have a Log Book. This is where we
record anything we need to remember like, "7th Floor - back office by the
window - don't forget there is a trash can behind the copier," or "Don't
forget to empty ALL the exterior garbage cans." You can leave notes for
your supervisors to remind them of what you need. The Log Books over time
become their own record of the account's activity and can be used to help
train new hires on the pet peeves of the building.
4. An MSDS Book. This is one of those items that is not important
In an emergency (i.e., someone accidentally ingesting or being harmfully
exposed to a cleaning product), first responders could be assisted by these
sheets which describe the composition and characteristics of each cleaning
Finally, each Combat Cleanerz' Housekeeping Closet should have a healthy
dose of pride and self respect. A closet that is clean and organized is one
more way that you show you care about the quality of your work.
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