What is colour coded cleaning within business

The basic thinking behind Colour Coded cleaning is; you use colours to segregate the different types of areas you have to clean. In the late 1990s, The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) developed and refined their Recommended Colour Chart for the Cleaning Industry. Their goal was to standardise cleaning practices in terms of the prevention of cross-contamination in an easy-to-understand way. Particular colours are designated for cleaning areas in which certain risks have been identified. These colours can then be transferred as colour coding on cleaning equipment and products which are to be used in these areas only. This will help to set apart these cleaning items so helping to prevent the transfer of bacteria through cross-contamination to other areas.  The need for colour coding is particularly significant in hospitals and other healthcare sites where it is especially important to promote thorough hygiene standards but this is, of course, good practice in any setting.

Cross-contamination is one of the highest risks in the spread of infection. To most effectively reduce this risk, it is strongly recommended that everyone in the cleaning industry follows the same procedures that have been outlined by the British Institute of Cleaning Science.

Colour coded cleaning explained.

Colour coded cleaning is the process of designating colours to cleaning equipment in certain areas of a business or building, reducing the spread of germs across areas and increasing hygiene throughout the venue. The four main colours used and to separate out areas such as bars, public areas, kitchen & food preparation areas and washrooms, are red, blue, green and yellow.

From 1 January 2006, a number of new food and hygiene legislation were applied to the UK. As a good practice, the Food Standards Agency suggested that separate cleaning equipment such as clothes, sponges and mops, should be used in areas where ready-to-eat foods are stored, handled and prepared.

Colour coding is used throughout a variety of industries and trades where health and safety is paramount, in particular catering and healthcare as cross contamination will lead to illness. The cleaning equipment colours are representative to their area of use. For example, you would not want to clean the floors of a kitchen with a mop that has been previously used to clean the bathroom floors. Colour coding can be broken down into 4 areas:

  • Public areas – such as lobbies, receptions and hallways
  • Washroom and toilets – this can include shower rooms and bathrooms
  • Restaurant and bar – including dining areas and cafe lounge spaces
  • Kitchen and food preparation areas – any kitchen, food station or area where food is kept and/or prepared

For this system to work, you will need to assign different cleaning equipment to each area, with coloured handles, heads or bristles to make it easily identifiable. This hygienic cleaning system can be applied to any cleaning equipment that is used in each area; from mops and brushes to cloths and gloves.

Three Colour Coded Items You Should Have

Within your business or home what cleaning equipment is colour coded that helps you keep your business as hygienic as possible? The list is broad, however, here’s the top three that every business should have as a priority:

  • Mops
  • Mop Buckets
  • Dustpan and Brushes

With these three items you should be able to ensure the hygiene of your premises never slips. Extra equipment, such as, cleaning cloths and cleaning buckets should also be considered for a thorough and strict colour coded cleaning environment. For example, you wouldn’t clean a school classroom desk, where children are going to work; with the same cloth you have just used to wipe the men’s urinals with, would you?

Where is colour coding used and who uses it?

Colour coded cleaning

Colour coordination of cleaning products can vary from business to business and the system you choose is entirely up to you. However, the above guide is the most widely accepted system that most establishments adhere to. The colour you assign to each area is your choice, providing your staff members are trained on the system you choose. There are, however, laws and regulations for healthcare establishment that must be followed to ensure patient care.

As businesses must now conform to the Environmental Health Officer (EHO), the use of colour coded cleaning equipment is particularly useful and has been widely adopted by the catering industry, as well as offices, factories and the retail sector. The EHO handle complaints about food quality, hygiene and safety issues and make sure that people’s living and working surroundings are safe, healthy and hygienic. Choosing to employ a colour system in your workplace can make cleaning easy, efficient and in turn, increase general hygiene and cleanliness.

Why is colour coding so useful?

The use of colour coded cleaning equipment is so useful simply because it reduces cross-contamination which in turn reduces the risk of infection or in some extreme cases death. Using a single mop to clean every floor in a restaurant, for example, can spread bacteria from the washrooms and toilets to kitchen and food preparation areas. This carries with it an inherent risk of cross-contamination and consequently, illness. Applying a colour coded system to segregate sensitive areas from one-another is the most efficient and effective way of reducing the risk of cross-contamination.

Staff training and awareness

Whatever colour code you settle for, the most important thing is that your staff know exactly what colours are for which areas. The best way to achieve this is to provide in-depth training highlighting the importance of colour coded equipment. As a reminder, you should have clearly marked posters at eye level in the cleaning cupboard. You must clearly state what colours are used for what areas, for example, cleaning a washroom is confusing when it comes to segregation. To make it clear, the actual Toilet bowl and the toilet floor should be one colour, Red preferably, and then all the other surfaces in the washroom, the sinks, the partitions and the doors, should be another colour i.e yellow.

By providing your staff with this knowledge you can rest assured you business hygiene will be kept at a high level with a reduced risk of cross-contamination.

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