By Susan Scapparone
From the February 2021 Issue
With a new year comes the time to evaluate and reset facility goals. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a new normal for today’s facilities with safety and cleaning now at the forefront of daily business operations. Everyone is paying closer attention to their surroundings, and the way a facility looks on the surface is most often a direct reflection of behind-the-scenes practices. In this regard, a key area to monitor closely is the janitorial closet. This space is the nerve center of every cleaning crew, and it’s worth taking a closer look at what’s going on behind closed doors.
Creating an efficient and organized janitorial closet is not only vital to maintaining a clean and hygienic facility, but it is also necessary in order for custodial services to perform at peak levels. Frequently, this area is a shared workstation with tight quarters and like many small spaces, it is often shortchanged and becomes a pain point for many facilities. Far too often, facility management wastes time and money duplicating cleaning supplies and equipment because they simply don’t have an organized closet.
Below are five tips to assist in properly balancing your space for inventory and equipment with a need for safety, organization, and productivity.
1. Track inventory. Keep a detailed list of equipment and supplies and how often these are used. The janitorial closet should run lean. When organizing, look at each item and determine how often it is used. If it is used on a weekly basis, keep it in the closet. If less frequently, move the bulk boxes and containers somewhere else and only take these items out when needed.
2. Use functional cues. Use product, tools, and equipment that have clear labels and functional cues to help custodial staff quickly identify what they need for any cleaning job. Consider using color coding on products as a wayfinding tool to visually communicate product use and coordination with other equipment.
3. Maximize wall space. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has strict guidelines for properly storing materials and equipment to avoid potentially hazardous situations. To adhere to their policies, it’s important to use the correct shelving. Install racks and wall-mount holders strong enough to support all the weight of the supplies in a closet. Rack-type shelving helps improve air circulation. Organize products by type and usage with the most frequently used products in easy-to-reach locations. Make sure all paper products are securely placed on shelves above any closed containers filled with chemicals or liquids.
4. Organize safety data sheets (SDS). It is not only wise to label everything in the closet, it is the law. The purpose of SDS is to provide all pertinent information about a given product. For instance, descriptions about proper usage for a chemical, a list of any hazardous materials contained in the chemical solution, and a recommendation of personal protective equipment (PPE) to use (such as gloves, safety goggles or respirators) must be recorded. Equally important is how SDS are organized. A first step is to include a written hazard communication policy. This names the person directly responsible for maintaining SDS records. Next, outline how employees use SDS and what is expected of them to be compliant with OSHA protocols. Finally, keep a detailed inventory list or index of all material SDS information in the binder.
5. Train staff with proper protocols. Having a well-trained custodial staff helps keep a safe and organized environment. Require staff members to wipe down their carts with an antibacterial agent or disinfectant at the end of each shift. Make sure they frequently check for a working sink and drain for proper hand washing and water disposal. Provide wall charts that clearly show the user which product should be used on which surfaces. Schedule regular inspections of the janitorial closet, and create a checklist of items to maintain.
As leaders in the facility management industry, it is critical that we ensure employees and customers alike a safe and healthy building environment. This creates an opportunity for facility managers to move from being a service provider to a strategic change agent for safer work practices.
Scapparone is the director, product management for the facilities category at Staples. She leads a cross-functional team responsible for launching new chemical solutions and cleaning tools and played a key role introducing the Coastwide Professional™ J-Series line of paper and soap dispensers and refills for the modern restroom.
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