Colour coded cleaning was introduced in the UK back in the late 90’s, when the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) started work on a universal colour coding system for use by the professional cleaning industry.
It centres around the designation of specific colours – red, blue, green and yellow – to the cleaning equipment within a certain area of an establishment, thereby reducing the potential for germ contamination between those areas, and ensuring increased levels of hygiene throughout.
It is a concept based on the premise that the cleaning equipment in a hospital should be segregated, given the importance of maintaining high levels of hygiene across public waiting rooms, catering areas, washrooms and wards.
Whilst it is used primarily within trades and industries where health and safety are critical, the idea itself is simple – and homeowners are increasingly taking the practice into the domestic setting as they seek to minimise cross-contamination in the home.
Why colour coded cleaning is a useful & logical approach
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. We all recognise the tools required for a thorough cleaning job are similar, regardless of the domestic environment – and yet we would never consider doubling up on those materials to cover the bathroom and the kitchen.
Extrapolate this out to industry levels, and it quickly becomes clear that some sort of system would be invaluable. Instigating a universal colour coding approach to the process makes the professional cleaning operation run like a smoothly oiled machine, where staff can rely on their unicolour mops, gloves, cloths, buckets, wipes and aprons applying to a set area of the building.
But let’s take a look at how those colours map to specific areas within an organisation:
- Code Yellow – clinical use (and recommended in times of viral outbreaks)
- Code Red – high risk areas – washroom and toilets (plus shower rooms and bathrooms)
- Code Green – general food and bar
- Code Blue – general lower risk areas
So within an establishment like a hospital, you can quickly see how:
- Yellow might be used in the wards
- Red used across all the toilet facilities
- Green within the shop, café, and canteen areas
- Blue within the foyer, hallways, and reception
Colour coded cleaning in the office?
Whilst not every organisation has to accommodate such diverse demands as a hospital, there are very evident practices that can be incorporated into the catering, retail, factory and office environment, ensuring that the business meets the hygiene standards required by the EHO or public health inspector.
And if you consider the standard cleaning routines in offices across the country – a blend of in-house effort plus an outsourced contractor – the importance of a colour-coded system for the tools required is obvious.
Mops and buckets may not be the day-to-day cleaning tools of the in-house employee, but there will be a time when their use is required, and there’s a responsibility on the company HR department to ensure employees are fully briefed on this – with clear, visible signposting in the obvious areas. (although you would like to think that, to the uninitiated employee, the mere sight of clearly segregated, multi-coloured mops, gloves and buckets within an office cleaning cupboard might raise a few internal questions…)
And consider the situation where a company uses more than one cleaning contractor: it’s critical to ensure all are on board in their colour coded cleaning practices – and aligned with the BICSc guidelines. It makes sense to establish these principles at the very outset: the possibility that one company might be using cleaning tools on the staff canteen one week, and the other using the same tools on the washroom the next, is not a cheery prospect.
Why a structured approach to cleaning matters
An unstructured approach to colour coded cleaning – across in-house staff, and a variety of cleaning agencies – is dangerous on multiple levels, as it gives the false impression that hygiene levels are tip-top.
With such a visible commitment to sanitisation and hygiene, how could there be a safer, more germ-free environment than our workplace?
Regardless of the effort invested, a haphazard routine will result in significant cross-contamination between the different areas of the workplace, so it’s critically important the process is addressed with both contractor and employees at the very beginning.
New staff members need to be initiated into the process, so that they are fully versed on the colour-coding message, even if they never pick up a mop at all. We fully recognise that employee office hygiene practice will typically limit itself to desk and surface wiping – but it’s important to remember that colour-coding can extend to this practice too.
At Uniwipe, we’ve aligned our scientifically proven products with the BICSc colour coding guidelines, clearly branding our:
Distributing these packets around the office in the relevant areas would be well advised, subconsciously conveying and strengthening the colour-coding message within the workforce.
NB – It’s also worth taking on board BICSc’s guidelines in times of a confirmed viral outbreak – with the clinical yellow becoming far more prominent throughout industry, as we attempt to rid surfaces and worktops of bacterial and viral infection. At employee level, this might translate to increased supplies of our clinical wipe range, ensuring protection against COVID-19, amongst many other viruses and bacteria.