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How Custodial Services Can Keep Facilities Clean & Healthy

Josh chats with Greg Lookabaugh with The King’s Cleaning about cleaning tips and best practices for epidemics and pandemics like the COVID-19 virus and the critical part custodial services plays. 

Show Notes: 

Show Script:

Josh Peach  
Welcome to the Operate Intelligently podcast, the podcast for all things operations.

Hello, Operate Intelligently listeners, I am really excited to be in the beautiful city of Houston today at a conference. I was able to grab an old friend that is very knowledgeable in the custodial and cleaning space Greg Lookabaugh. We're going to spend the next 20 or 25 minutes talking about what everybody's talking about, which is the coronavirus. But not just the coronavirus but pandemics in general and things that operations professionals and their teams should be looking at, considering, implementing or possibly already implemented, and that their need to just put some public outreach out there, so people are aware of what's going on. Because most of the time people don't see those cleaning supplies unless they smell them. So first of all, Greg, welcome. I want you to say your company because I know it's Kings but the whole tagline of it. And we'll get right into some of this discussion. And I appreciate you giving us some of your knowledge on this topic.

Greg Lookabough  
Well, thank you, Josh, and thanks for the opportunity. I'm Greg Lookabough and I work for the Kings, intelligent cleaning for health. And it's good to be here. And I look forward to discussing some of the things that we face in our environments, indoor environments today.

Josh Peach  
And how long have you been in the cleaning maintenance facility space?

Greg Lookabough  
So this is my 38th year of being in facilities and in the facility enterprise, the educational enterprise, and I've worked across the country in many different states. And custodial services is just one of the many things that I've learned. I appreciate. I understand what they do. I know the challenges that they face. But there's a lot of good things they do to prevent a lot of the issues that arise and we want to talk about that today.

So, being around as long as you've been around, you know, these things happen pandemic scares, SARS, Ebola in 2014. A lot of people I mean, we're here in Texas, and I brought that up in a talk today. Did you guys remember what you did for Ebola in 2014. It was Dallas that the person that tested positive was brought into. I can remember because I flew into Dallas and I had the car service to pick me up the guy came out he stuck a thermometer on my forehead. And it was a cell equip thermometer that they had to test themselves and every passenger and then Lysol the car down every single time. So these proactive measures are put into place when something happens. But let's step back, I mean, in reality, all the stuff that you're doing, the training and the support with your team that they do, we're preparing for this epidemic, even when epidemics, pandemics, disease is happening. We're preparing for that, you know, what would you say? Or how could we prepare more? Should we prepare more? Do you think we're well prepared with our efforts day to day before the news hits? You know, what are your thoughts on that?

Well, I think one of the first questions is, are we prepared? And that's a good question. And the question and the answer is, are we prepared for what? Because typically what we do in custodial services is that we work to keep that indoor environment conducive to learning. We clean touchpoints, we use many types of disinfectants and sanitizers. We use many types of cleaning products, we have to deal with dwell times and a lot of things happen. We have to deal with staph infections, we have to deal with indoor environment conditions and diseases that may come and understand that in the educational enterprise, custodial services supplies millions of students, thousands and hundreds of students come into one place. All day long moving within that one place, touching things and sneezing and coughing. We don't just deal with viruses, we deal with lice, we deal with staph, we deal with colds and flu. And so the challenge of maintaining a safe indoor environment becomes very challenging because of the population that moves within the world of education.You just said a whole bunch of blood borne pathogens as another one that I hear, you know, kind of out there. You know, this is so far beyond, you know, pushing a broom with a spray and having a spray can and a roll of paper towels, right?

Josh Peach  
So you know, the antimicrobials and all these things that you guys use day to day. You know, one of the things that I practice, try to practice with people this tell your story, share your story, let the world know what it is that you do. What are what do you think the best some of the best things or best practices, custodial teams, maintenance teams can do to really kind of promote the prevention practices, and also educate the prevention practices that you're doing. So, in promoting the prevention habit practices, like what do you think the best way to get people to wash your hands is other than tell them wash their hands? Is there something? We're in here in this trade show area and every 10 feet by walk there's a poster on the wall, right? There's a bulletin board, there's something that's showing us how to actually wash your hands. You sit there and go 'man, is common sense really not that common that we have to know how to wash your hands?'. But are there practices that you're seeing or that you would say, outreach for people to do themselves? And then is there something that we, as operations professionals could be doing more of or better to really showcase and talk about all of the measures that you're taking? I just sat in this class, and I'm hearing about these e-misters and these scrubbers. I can't remember the name of the thing, but it's I mean, anti microbial, specialized forevers that kills everything, right and devices that you put into a room, and through ultraviolet or infrared. I can't remember what it was, but it blasts the room and you can't even be in there. It kills everything. I didn't know people were doing this. So there's a two part question, you know, what do you think people could be doing more to get people to, you know, our clients, customers be doing more and awareness? And then what are you think? Do you think we're doing enough? Sharing that, what you're doing what your team's doing? And can we do better with that?

Greg Lookabough  
So, Josh, I think one of the things that's important is when you talk about what we do, how we do it, what equipment we use, and the techniques in which we do some of the things. So first of all, let's just talk about the typical cleaning process. One of the things that I think is missing in today's custodial world is standardize processes. Standardizing processes brings a clarity into what people should be doing. It's not just as simple as dusting a wall. It's not just as simple as cleaning a commode because the multitude of people who are touching and the blood borne pathogens and all the things that are involved, you know, we have new products today. We have new disinfectants that people say are EPA approved and EPA this. We have multiple sanitizers, we have multiple air devices that can be placed in air conditioning systems. We have peroxide machines, we have thermistors, we have misting devices. And we have so many things. And some of these things just pop up as soon as an outbreak of something happens. And so I always say that every time you implement a tool, you implement another task. And so what do I mean by that? Well, today we sat in the workshop, as Josh said, and we hear about these thermistor products that can blow out a product that is electrified and it can gather and clean and kill diseases or germs or viruses on touch points within a building. But you have to talk about frequencies. Because once I do that, what's the resilient timeframe in which that product remains? And when those students return back to the classroom, are we now beginning to retouch that surface that was cleaned? And are we beginning to recontaminate that surface again? Yes, it is important that every time students enter a building for the start of school, that building should be cleaned. And there's a process in which that happens, because when you take a custodian and many times we base what a custodian can do in a certain time frame at some square footage. What happens is one home a standard home in Texas is about 1800 square feet. And we're asking a custodian to clean 25 to 28,000 square feet a night. Well you just divide that by 18 and you're asking someone to clean multiple homes with 30 to 40-50 people in each home in an eight hour period. It's not always accomplished. So some of the things that we're doing to improve--one of the things is building a process that teaches people to task clean, not area clean, not zone clean, but tasks clean to a specific task, which requires specific tools, certain products that accomplish the task at hand and that is cleaning, intelligently cleaning a building for health, not appearance. And there's a big difference, Josh, because you can go to restaurants and places and see people wiping down tables. And look over the side, the water they're using is as dirty as anything. However the surface may look clean. So professional custodial services goes well beyond that. Let's talk about some of the new products that are out there like for care products that have disease fighting compounds in them now. We have the thermistors I talked about, we have tie back machines that spray all these product, we have all these things. But the most important thing is we have to also protect our workers. They have to teach and train our workers to understand what they're doing. What will this product, what will this machine do? And how do we plug that into the process of cleaning the buildings every day to our standard operating practices. And that's why I believe one of the most important things as we move further along here standardized cleaning processes that address the purpose of what we're doing and that's cleaning a building for health. Now, the other thing to think about is how much work is someone doing and what's really possible within a certain timeframe. And that's why we do task cleaning instead of zone cleaning because one of the most important areas of any school, college, university is the restrooms. Restrooms are a pathway to a lot of things. It's the pathway to blood borne pathogens where diseases are transferred, where people, they they do many different things in the restrooms and they create a lot of issues for custodians to keep them safe, but also to keep our children safe. So there's a process that needs to be developed that cleans that restroom for health on an ongoing consistent basis. Then we get into the classrooms we get into the locker rooms and the gymnasiums and the sweat and the different things that happen in our facilities. And then we have to look at the time our facilities are being used, Josh.

Well it's adding a lot of tasks to what's an age old what again, it's not to be insulting but the age old misconception of pushing broom and spraying down things, they're doing a lot more with a lot more tasks, a lot more training needed from what you're saying as far as all the different scenarios as you're talking about all these things. When you talk about that 25,000 square feet, the average house be an 1800 square feet, that's 14 homes. So putting into perspective and I think this is part of that, what could people be doing to promote more of what they're doing already outside of the pandemic epidemic? coronavirus discussion is bringing awareness of the fact that our custodians are cleaning the equivalent 18 homes without any of this added stress or worry. And then couple that with the fact that they might be cleaning that space 2, 3, 4 times in a night. So bringing awareness to what they're doing already outside of the pandemic worry and then the added with the misters and then putting that process in place. I'll get off my soapbox and let you get back to it. But is that kind of where this is where you think this the promotion side of things should go is you know sharing that information and putting it into a perspective that people can relate to. Because nobody's going to--how many square feet is the space that we're in?

It is about, when you count ceiling tiles, you know, so yeah, you know, it's probably about 1600 square feet.

Josh Peach 
Yeah, probably right. We're in a, I'll take a picture of it and we'll count ceiling tiles afterwards. But I would bet within all certainty, you're within 10%, especially when you just look straight up and did a run of the ceiling tiles as quick as you did. But most people come in here and you say, wow, this is a big space, right? They wouldn't understand, they wouldn't count ceiling tiles and base that off a number of feet and numbers of ceiling tiles. So putting into perspective 25 or 1600 square feet, telling somebody 'Hey, someone, please 25,000,' they only hear 25. Don't know what's after it, right? So it's just a massive amount of space. 

Greg Lookabough  
I think, Josh, just real quick to your point about walking into a room and telling someone to clean it. What's the definition of clean and that's why it's so important for standardized processes to be developed, because when you work load a room like this, you think I'm going to come into this large room. And I'm just going to vacuum, pick up trash and walk out, I cleaned it. But there's so many touchpoints in this room. There are tables, there are chairs, there are doorknobs, there are light switches, there are large trash cans, backup chairs, there's a carpet. We send sometimes what we're doing, and we're getting better at this, but we send people into big rooms like this with a little 12 inch vacuum. And so what's going to happen? What's going to revolutionize our industry is proper training, proper education, believing in what we're doing and the right tool for the right jobs and defining what those jobs are and the frequencies of those tasks that are ahead. And when something breaks out or a pandemic or staph infection. Yeah, everything shifts to that right. Custodial services is not sweeping and using a dustpan, custodial services has evolved into a profession that can make an indoor environment safe and healthy.

Josh Peach  
Are you looking for a way to get inspired about your work as a facility or operations professional? Join us at our annual maintenance and operations conference, Dude University in Raleigh, North Carolina, May 3-6, 2020. You'll be able to attend educational sessions about your day to day work, meet professionals from across the country that work in your and other industries, enjoy food, friends and fun in the Dude's hometown. Learn more and register at university.dudesolutions.com.

Josh Peach  
Let's talk about touch points, because I think a lot of people have a misconception, misunderstanding and I'm still learning a lot about this. So you task your team and show them the process and train them to hit all the touch points. And there's probably thousands of them in here. So we hit we come in here with the anti microbials, the whatever things there are, and we get all this stuff, we literally kill everything in the room, right? All bets are off as soon as that space is occupied by people and they come in and they start hitting those touch points, the carriers are now carrying on to those touch points. So with things like this coronavirus, or other instances Ebola or things that happened, in your experience, do you increase your frequency of doing these things? Is that an added workload or do you think that what we're already kind of doing is is in line with what should be done?

Greg Lookabough  
I think with what we're doing based on a good process, and an a good game plan and a standardized program. What we are doing is the beginnings of keeping things in a relatively safe environment. Whenever you get into an issue like we're having right now with a undefined, very, you know, we think we know what it does to the human body. We think this, and we're taking a lot of preventative steps and actions. I think when you talk touchpoints it's frequency. So we're going to do it once. But this room is going to be changed out six times in one day. The question you have to ask yourself, do I come in after every change and spray this room down for the next program? And it gets very tricky, Josh, because you have to then deal with triggers, asthma triggers and different trigger points that then could create another issue. So education and being educated on what it is you're going to do, can we in custodial services prevent all diseases from spreading? No, no one can. Can we minimize that? Yes. But frequency is important. And that's why task over zone cleaning now is becoming more prevalent because it addressed task, specific tasks, not one person trying to do everything, but the whole team trying to do all the tasks that are required to create an environment clean. Now, there are times when the situation will require something not getting done. And so as a leader, you have to decide what is the most important event that needs to happen in this environment, based on external situations that the concern is that once you make a room ready and people enter it now you basically now begin to build another environment for germs. And so frequencies does matter and it is important. And you have to measure how often can you do that and what's realistic, right? Because as a leader, you have to act quickly. You have to make decisive decisions on what's going to be best, utilize those staff members, utilize the tools you have, and put that process, have that process, think it through. We've had enough epidemics and these types of events that in our standardized programs, we should be prepared. It's no different than safety preparedness. So training for custodial services is becoming so important, Josh, in the world that we live in today. The time is coming now where we have to focus on what is the true value of a custodial department. What tools are we going to use? How are we going to maintain those tools, what chemicals and what training are we going to provide for our people to be proactive, and to be reactive? The time to begin to research new equipment, new processes, new procedures, develop new trainings teach people how to use their equipment, how to keep their equipment, hold people accountable for what they're doing, but you can't hold them accountable if you're not training them. You have to train them first.

Josh Peach
And, you know, a couple of things. And that's all unbelievable, you know, information for listeners, in general. And it's not just now it's always you know, moving forward that training. It's an evolving, ongoing thing you should always be, you know, if you're not looking at these things, and the coronavirus is what's causing you to look at these things, hit a place marker and just realize that this is something you should always be be doing. You should always be keeping up with what's going on because a couple of things that I'm taking away on this and experience that I'm seeing is one there's a lot of people that are popping up with all these different salt solvers, right? And there's these people that are coming with trucks full of hand sanitizer and all this. And my worry is one, the community is going to be saying, we need this, we need this, we need this because I saw it on Facebook, right? The world's coming to an end and everybody's got all these suits on and all this stuff we need to have, you know, seven truckloads of hand sanitizer, we're dumping our entire budget on a room full of hand sanitizer that we may or may not use, and also have that understanding. I heard one person today said that they bought a pallet of hand sanitizer bottles that's in their warehouse. And I said, what why is it sitting in your warehouse? Why are you putting us well, what happens if we have a water shortage? What happens if this you know we have it in preparation. So I think custodial services, M and O teams, are doing a lot of proactive things that the stakeholders outside, whether it's taxpayers, boards, committees, Board of Trustees, what have you, might look and go where is that and why aren't we using it? And it's that additional planning that we're doing, which I think people should be educating not just their team, but everyone.

Greg Lookabough  
But I think it is important to tell our story, Josh, I think that's very important. And the other thing is, when you store things, you have to know that even hand sanitizer may have an expiration date. And so, preparedness, you know, I always say I'd rather be prepared and not need it, than to need it and not have been prepared. And I do think that we have to tell our story, our custodial staff, our maintenance teams, and many of our educational enterprises across the country, are doing wonderful, wonderful work. And they're working to always improve the work they're doing. And the workload that they're assigned to do is always increasing. But we should always remember we have to continually learn. We have to continually train, we always have to reevaluate. We always have to be prepared. And we always have to continually improve what we're doing, what we're using, the tools we're buying. And all I would say to you, is as you move into these times, like we are today with the coronavirus or address the issue. Be careful what you go out and just purchase, that random miracle product or tool that just appeared. It just appeared. And now it's the best thing since sliced bread. But keep doing the things you're doing as well. Keep those buildings clean, keep teaching your people, use those proven and tried processes and procedures. And don't be afraid to compliment your people for the work that they are doing because when that virus hits their school, it has hit their family too. It has hit their world as well. And so we have to move through this together. We have to continue to promote healthy lifestyles. Healthy living, healthy facilities and healthy buildings and healthy processes and procedures that clean for health.

Josh Peach 
Well, this has been great and I really appreciate giving us the time and alarms going off. You and I have to get back to work in the exhibit hall. You know, one of the things that I want to leave with is, you know, I'm following the World Health Organization, the CDC, you know, government agencies, for news updates and everything else and the news sales stories, and a lot of it's true. Facebook is not the place to get your information from. A lot of social media, a lot of people when somebody says I heard, or did you see and they don't know where they saw it. But is there any place? Well, first of all, how can people get ahold of you? If they want to learn more on how to provide the healthiest space possible? How do they get ahold of you directly? And then is there any other resources that you would suggest facility professionals or people that want to be more educated in healthy space that they should be looking for making sure that they're not getting the the snake oil of today to prevent, you know, a supposed disease for tomorrow.

Greg Lookabough  
Well if, if there's anything I can help you with or to share more of what I know and to learn from you as well. You can reach me at kingsclean.com. The CDC is a good resource. Your vendors are a good resource, vendors are knowledgeable and they're a good resource. There is ISSA standards that are good resources. The King's intelligent cleaning for health is a good resource. So there are a lot of resources. Your district right down the street that may have went through something you didn't, networking one another are good resources. okay? So there are a lot of resources that we can gather from, but continue to do your job. Learn. Don't ever stop learning. Don't stop training. And don't stop and never stop believing that what you do as a custodian, remember this, it is an essential element in educating kids. You make a difference on the indoor environment and keep doing it.

Josh Peach
This from a guy that's been around doing this for 36 years, and is just getting started. So Greg, can't appreciate you enough, you and I have been friends for a very long time. And I can't thank you enough not just for your friendship, but your guidance, sharing your knowledge with me over the years and putting it into this podcast. We'll put all the information, resources on the podcast description as well as I'm sure we'll have a lot of that stuff in an upcoming blog specifically trying to help our folks with regards to preparation, execution of cleaning and taking care of their space during this very difficult time revolving around the coronavirus outbreak. So really appreciate it. We'll have to have you on again and, and share some more. I think we'll make this a quarterly effort or semi regularly effort because I think you get, we could talk about this for days. So, really appreciate it, we're going to get back down in the TASBO booth area. And in the meantime, keep doing what you guys are doing. As Greg said, definitely applaud your team. This is a real tough time for everybody, but for those maintenance and operations team members out there that are really doing everything they can above and beyond managing those 18 equivalent of 18 homes minimum a day, a couple times in some cases. Really make sure that you're taking the time to say thank you and recognize that and we'll talk to you soon. Have a fantastic day. 

Thanks for listening to the Operate Intelligently Podcast produced by Dude Solutions. You can reach us by emailing dspodcast@dudesolutions.com or check us out on the web at dudesolutions.com

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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