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Cleaning matters: The importance of training

19 May 2015

The ongoing protection of assets is an essential requirement of the built environment and one that extends beyond FM disciplines such as maintenance of a facility's systems and external fabric, to cleaning and other 'soft' services that focus on creating a pleasant indoor atmosphere for building occupants and visitors. Here Henry Williams of BICSs outlines the importance of appropriate training for all those in the cleaning industry

Training and career development are crucial in any professional company or organisation that seeks to progress within its industry sector. The term training simply refers to the process of acquiring the necessary skills required for a certain job. It targets specific goals, for example understanding a process and operating a certain machine, system or set of tools.

In order to highlight the need for training within the cleaning industry, BICSc invites you to take a look at the Institute’s mission statement. BICSc believe that education and accredited training by a trusted awarding body is imperative for:

•  Protecting the cleaning operative

•  Providing a clean and safe environment

•  Preserving assets

•  Promoting sustainability

•  Producing best practice 

Protecting the cleaning operative

Cleaning operatives are regularly exposed to a number of activities that may be hazardous to their health. Without adequate training, these can become high-risk activities. Tasks such as handling potentially dangerous chemicals, exposure to dangerous or sharp items, exposure to infections, walking on wet and slippery floors, climbing or stretching to reach high/ low areas and frequent repetitive movements that can be damaging to the body, are just a few of the tasks that cleaning operatives can be faced with on a daily basis. It is therefore vital that sufficient support is provided to enable operatives to work safely, limiting the potential for harm not only to themselves, but to others who may be using the cleaned facility. 

Bearing the potential hazards in mind, it’s alarming to think that there are employers who continue to neglect and provide their cleaning operatives with the proper education and standardised skills training that they require when performing their duties. Responsible organisations that look after their cleaning operative’s needs, not only fulfil their corporate social responsibility quota for their staff, but also protect themselves legally in the event of an unfortunate incident or accident occurring. Protecting the health and safety of the cleaning operative is a cause that the Institute feels extremely strongly about; we strive to build awareness amongst cleaning operatives and organisations alike via our marketing campaigns and our internationally renowned best practice cleaning standards. 

BICSc best practice standards are detailed within the Institute’s Cleaning Professional’s Skills Suite (CPSS 2.0). The successful Licence to Practice (PBICSc) qualification is the first qualification that a BICSc learner will undertake on their learner journey. It covers the health and safety aspects involved with undertaking various cleaning tasks. This section of the suite is mandatory, meaning that no cleaning operative can undertake any of the subsequent skills without successfully completing their Licence to Practice (PBICSc) assessment.

On successful completion of this assessment the cleaning operative will receive a photographic card to show that they have achieved the necessary standard to perform cleaning tasks safely.

The Licence to Practice (PBICSc) assessment supports cleaning operatives by providing them with the knowledge required to work safely whilst performing cleaning tasks. This limits the potential for damage or risk to the cleaning operative. This qualification promotes the importance of some of the following areas:

•  Using personal protective equipment (PPE)

•  Correct procedures for using warning signs

•  Correct measuring dosing and dilution of chemicals

•  First aid measures

•  Cross contamination and colour coding

•  Infection control

•  Safe disposal

•  Safe use and care of equipment

•  Hand hygiene

•  Health and safety procedures

•  Storing equipment correctly and safely

Operatives are then free to move on from proficient (PBICSc) skills to learn further skills known as competent skills (CBICSc). These are available from the recently updated Cleaning Professionals Skills Suite (CPSS 2.0).

Providing a clean and safe environment 

The earlier points address the safety of the cleaning operative but another primary concern for BICSc is the safety of the users of the cleaned facility. As with the safety of the operative, training ensures that the environment is free from hazards and reduces the risk of infections that could be potentially harmful to the individual or others using the facility. Knowledge of infection control and hygienic cleaning methods are vital to ensure an environment is clean and safe, and this is something that cannot be achieved by poorly trained cleaning operatives.

Appropriate skills training provides the cleaning operative with a clear idea of the desired final cleaning outcome. This ensures that the surface is continuously cleaned to a high standard and gives a clear indication of the expected standard. Standards required on completion of service delivery are set out in the BICSc Best Value document. This is designed to remove ambiguity from output-based specifications. Remember, an ambiguous view of the final cleaning outcome will always lead to inferior results.

Training reduces client dissatisfaction and eliminates the need for 'rework' (and hidden costs associated with time originally spent on tasks or original materials and equipment costs), by addressing the most common reason for poor service delivery: – method failure or the application of incorrect techniques to the cleaning of elements within a facility.

Training provides support to the cleaning operative for dealing with difficult elements and finishes within a facility. CPSS 2.0 provides a variety of specific ‘pick and mix’ skills that provide the operative with the knowledge to ensure a consistent, high standard across cleaning tasks. This includes ensuring that the operative is using the right cleaning materials for the task in question.

On-going protection of assets

The on-going protection of assets is an essential requirement of the built environment. Using the wrong choice of cleaning equipment or materials can damage the surface area. This can prove to be an expensive mistake. Whilst accidents do happen, cleaning operatives that have had the correct training provide a much lower risk solution. 

Promoting sustainability

The sustainable business agenda has never been more important for both individuals and corporate organisations. The opportunities for those who understand sustainable practices and for organisations that take an expansive view of their role in the world have never been greater. BICSc provides learners with the opportunity to understand: 

•  How to dispose of materials in line with environmental policy and procedure.

•  How to use dilution rates correctly: Correct application to ensure less chemical products is being used so surfaces will be less likely to be damaged.

•  Correct use and care will prolong the life span of equipment and materials meaning that fewer materials are used for creating new products.

•  The ability to correctly identify and segregate waste materials.

Best practice

BICSc is proud to be recognised for producing and promoting best practice for the cleaning industry for more than 53 years. It is continuously developing BICSc standards to reflect changes in the industry and the needs of the cleaning operative.

BICSc recently announced the latest update to the internationally recognised qualification 'The Cleaning Professional’s Skills Suite (CPSS 2.0)'. Certain skills from the original CPSS have been removed completely whilst other skills that are now a requirement within the industry have been included.

Maureen Kelso, head of education and standards, commented: "CPSS 2.0 has been written taking into account practices in the cleaning industry that have changed overtime reflecting both the cleaning skill and the cleaning operative. The changes are based on health and safety and best practice which are reflected in how we should be carrying out the skills with the welfare and safety of the cleaning operative and others being the main concern as well as the preservation of assets."


The cleaning industry is worth in excess of £10.5 billion and holds a mass of opportunities for those willing to invest in developing themselves, their organisations and their staff through standardised education and appropriate accredited training. Effective training for cleaning operatives and supervisors alongside skills refreshment are essential to progressing within the cleaning industry, particularly as agreed standards of service delivery are a pre-requirement of successful contract fulfillment.   

The steps for success within the cleaning industry

BICS & BBS (BICS Business Services) 

The British Institute of Cleaning Science is a trusted awarding body at the forefront of the cleaning industry since 1961. Its contributions over this period are highly regarded by the profession and remain one of the most trusted and recognisable institutions in the cleaning industry today. 

BICSc Standards combine expert knowledge from highly regarded cleaning industry experts. These individuals have a high level of both knowledge and experience across a variety of cleaning industry sectors.


All official accredited BICSc training is managed and controlled through BBS. If you are interested in learning more about BICSc qualifications, contact details are printed below.