Ceiling cleaning and maintenance is a crucial but often overlooked aspect of maintaining a high-performance facility dedicated to occupant health and safety.
Cleaning Facility Ceilings for Health
High ceilings are chronically overlooked in many facilities--often resulting in the buildup of dirt, grime, dust, and sometimes bacteria and germs.
The oversight results in an unprofessional appearance and may present a health issue if the contents are disturbed and disbursed by ceiling fans or HVAC systems.
Further, dirty ceilings are especially challenging in industrial factories and warehouses, near heavy construction zones, and areas where oilfield fracking occurs.
Another issue that can arise from a lack of routine ceiling cleaning and maintenance the appearance and spread of mold due to humidity or a previously undetected leak.
Fortunately, routine maintenance is simple with the right equipment and can help protect your facility's appearance, maintain regulatory compliance, and protect facility occupants' health and safety.
Ceilings, tiles, and fixtures, especially fans, can house dust, allergens, and other matter that have been shown to negatively impact occupant health and safety by reducing indoor air quality.
According to Facility Executive;
Mold, pollen, dust, smog, smoke, carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other viruses and bacteria released through materials like furniture upholstery and carpeting, gaseous chemicals, particulates, and occupants, can all impact and jeopardize human health.
One highly concerning hazard is silica, which is most commonly found in industrial warehouses and factories, in or near construction sites, and adjacent to fracking fields.
Exposure to crystalline silica can lead to serious life-threatening illnesses.
According to the U.S Department of Labor - Occupational Safety and Health Administration;
About 2.3 million people in the U.S. are exposed to silica at work.
Workers who inhale these very small crystalline silica particles are at increased risk of developing serious silica-related diseases, including:
Silicosis, an incurable lung disease that can lead to disability and death;
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); and
Another major concern is the potential presence of mold, which may be difficult to detect in facilities with high ceilings.
Mold in high ceilinged facilities typically results from previously undetected water leaks or high levels of humidity--common in locker rooms, indoor spas, swimming facilities, and gyms.
The danger of mold exposure comes from the potential release of toxins.
Some molds release toxins, and hidden mold can lead to health problems, even in healthy people.
When exposed to these toxins in high amounts you can suffer from symptoms including:
Lung irritation, and;
Finally, dust, pathogens, and other dangerous microbial matter that have made their way to the ceiling or attached fixtures are quickly and easily spread by ceiling fans, resulting in the transmission of illness and infection.
The blades of the fan and the surfaces of the fan's housing unit can become visibly soiled with dust.
The infection control concern is the potential for a fan to spread aerosolized human pathogens from biofilms and resuspension of dust that may settle onto the patient or environmental surfaces in the immediate vicinity of the patient.
Air temperature, relative humidity, and turbulence are among the more important factors affecting the spread of infectious agents indoors.
Safely Cleaning Ceilings
One of the biggest mistakes made by facilities managers and custodial teams when cleaning ceilings is improper or unsafe equipment use, often resulting in injury and the spread of particulate matter throughout the facility and onto other surfaces.
Ceiling cleaning best practices call for daytime cleaning to better observe the dirt and grime that must be removed.
Daytime cleaning often means business hours, so ensuring the safety of guests and facility occupants is paramount.
The first step should involve securing the area from foot traffic in the event something does fall.
Secondly, ensure your team can safely reach the ceiling using a scissor lift or similar equipment, that they are properly trained in the safe use of the equipment, and are properly secured with harnesses.
Next, it is highly recommended that vacuums with extensions be employed to remove the bulk of the heavy soil and other matter.
After that, dusters can be used to free up any lingering dust and cobwebs.
Depending on the nature of the task, additional treatment may be required to kill mold or remove stains from the ceiling through a combination of multi-purpose disinfectant sprays and microfiber towels.
Finally, a general cleanup of horizontal surfaces, especially the floor, should be completed to prevent cross-contamination and an unpresentable appearance.
References & Resources
Dirty ceilings negatively impact occupant impressions of a facility, contribute to potentially life-threatening health issues, and negatively impact occupant wellness and productivity through lower indoor air quality.
Regularly cleaning and maintaining your facility's ceilings is simple, as long as specific safety guidelines and cleaning procedures are followed.
Outsourcing your organization's ceiling cleaning and maintenance requirements is a cost-effective method for ensuring all safety measures are adhered to, all of the necessary equipment is available, and all staff members are properly trained.
If you would like more information regarding the effectiveness of high-performance infection prevention and control measures, or if you would like to schedule a free, no-obligation onsite assessment of your facility's custodial needs, contact us today for a free quote!
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