From 2012 to 2017, the state of California experienced one of its most severe and longest droughts in history. Uncharacteristic dryness affected nearly 80 percent of the state’s population.
But interestingly, it was not until the last year of the five-year drought that the state imposed regulations requiring all consumers, business and residential, to scale back consumption by 25 percent.
Compare this to the California drought of 1977/1978. In one year, the state imposed regulations that required consumers to cut water use by more than 40 percent. And another thing worth noting: in 1977, the state had about 20 million residents. By 2017, that number had jumped to 35 million.
So, why did the state manage so well in the recent drought but was brought to its knees by the earlier one? State government and businesses learned a lot from the 1970s drought and one of the most important things they discovered is that it pays to know more precisely where water is being used.
This meant they had to conduct water audits. A water audit assesses current water consumption and helps determine where water is being wasted; where there are water leaks; where consumption could be reduced or eliminated; and where new procedures and operating methods can be implemented to reduce overall consumption.
A cleaning audit can leverage similar thinking to improve results. A cleaning audit, also known as a “surface assessment,” can be conducted in any facility, large or small. It is designed to do the following:
- Find opportunities where cleaning can be improved;
- Indicate where cleaning may not be necessary or need not be performed as often, allowing cleaning professionals to dedicate more time where they are most needed;
- Suggest new cleaning methods, procedures, and products that can improve cleaning effectiveness, the overall health of the facility, and worker productivity.
But that’s not all. A professionally performed cleaning audit can also do the following:
- Educate facilities/office managers and health and safety administrators that what “looks” clean has little to do with how clean and healthy it really is*;
- Evaluate cleaning performance objectively rather than subjectively;
- Provide science-based data to benchmark cleaning and measure improvements in cleaning over time;
- Highlight cleaning strengths and weakness in a facility, suggesting where improvements are necessary;
- Reduce building-user cleaning complaints;
- Increase productivity by helping to reduce illness and related absenteeism among building users;
- Be used to recognize and honor exceptional cleaning staff;
- Help professionalize cleaning and cleaning staff;
- Ensure cleaning consistency.
This last point is significant. The professional cleaning industry in most of North America is burdened with very high worker turnover. In some cases, worker turnover is as high as 300 percent. Along with adequately training these new cleaning workers, a cleaning audit increases accountability. It can be used to show new and existing cleaners what is expected of them in order to protect the health and safety of the facility.
*Source: Public Health Ontario, Environmental Cleaning Toolkit