Typically, office workers have little to do with the cleaning and maintenance of their facilities. In fact, most may know little about how a facility is maintained; what’s involved in keeping it clean; what cleaning methods, tools, and equipment are used; or how their use of a building impacts the health of the entire facility.
Fortunately, the Green cleaning movement has helped change this. This is because a key component of Green cleaning is to communicate to all parties—building management, office workers, and custodial workers—why the program is being incorporated and much more about how Green cleaning can help protect their health. They also learn how their activities and the ways they use their immediate work areas can have a major impact on their own health and that of their coworkers and the environment.
For instance, because of numerous reports about germs and contaminants on office desks, many office workers are cleaning their own desk areas. This is good, but often they select conventional cleaning products that can be harmful.
However, situations like this can be corrected and alleviated if building owners and managers develop a building occupant cleaning and maintenance “policy statement.” This is a program that outlines what tenants should and should not do to protect the health of their facilities.
For instance, they should be encouraged to keep their immediate areas clean, as mentioned earlier, but by using environmentally preferable cleaning products. Green cleaning is not a piecemeal program. All of the chemicals and products used in the facility must be Green, including those selected by building occupants.
Additional measures office workers can take as well include:
- Have building users remove all boxes, paper, and any other items left on floors or carpets at least once per week. This allows custodial workers to clean and vacuum these areas, removing dust, soils, and contaminants.
- Prohibit eating at office desks. Food sources attract insects and other pests that can bring disease into a facility.
- Establish an OOPS Hot Line. Some large facilities have special telephone numbers for building occupants to call whenever something is a spilled on a carpet/floor such as a drink or ink from a toner cartridge. The goal is to clean up these accidents as soon as possible, for safety reasons and before they can negatively impact the indoor environment.
- Similarly, ask building users to report water leaks and other plumbing problems as soon as they are detected. Not only are these problems wasteful, but water leaking into walls, floors, or carpets can cause mold and mildew problems.
- Emphasize the importance of recycling—probably the oldest component of Green cleaning—in the policy guidelines.
- Require building occupants to empty their own recyclables and trash into a centralized collection area. This last point may seem a bit unusual, but it is critical. It helps building users better understand how their facility is maintained and how their activities, as well as those of their coworkers and cleaning professionals, keep them and their environment healthy.