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COVID-19 update: Cleaning staff must be considered as ‘critical or key workers’

Published 23rd March, 2020 by Neil Nixon

COVID-19 update: Cleaning staff must be considered as ‘critical or key workers’

The Government has issued its list of critical and key workers - with cleaning operatives conspicuous by their absence. The list comprises: Frontline health workers such as doctors and nurses; Some teachers and social workers; Workers in key public services including those essential to the justice system, religious staff and public service journalists; Local and national government workers deemed crucial to delivering essential public services; Workers involved in food production processing, distribution, sale and delivery; Public safety workers including police, armed forces personnel, firefighters and prison staff; Essential air, water, road and rail transport workers; and Utilities, communication and financial services staff, including postal workers and waste disposal workers.

In response, Paul Thrupp, chairman of the British Cleaning Council, has issued the following statement:

"As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic together as an industry, it is my duty to keep you informed about how the British Cleaning Council (BCC) is campaigning to ensure that people within our industry are viewed as essential ‘critical or key workers’ who are needed more than ever to ensure we not only maintain but elevate hygiene standards in the UK in order to come out of this crisis quicker.

"The BCC and its members have the staff, products, equipment and machinery to reduce the risk to human health by providing and maintaining clean, sanitised and safe premises and environments. Our regular day to day cleaning staff and our specialist and periodical industrial and window cleaning staff all have a major part in improving the environmental hygiene of the UK.

"Even in lockdown, premises and particularly education, retail, healthcare establishments and care homes will require more frequent sanitisation regimes at what may well be a premium time to do so. Our cleaning staff throughout the UK have the expertise, training and knowledge to carry out sanitisation, hygiene, clinical or decontamination cleans so it is essential that the workforce are kept available by being identified as ‘critical or key workers’ by the Prime Minister and the British Government. Additionally, our cleaning product suppliers need to remain at work to provide the consumables and products to clean with, from wipes and paper products, to disinfectants, sanitisers and cleaning products in general. And our machinery and equipment providers need to produce and supply specialist cleaning equipment that our staff can use.

"The cleaning industry represents nearly 4% of the UK workforce and if we do not identify our people as ‘critical or key workers’ then hygiene in the UK will drop with the effect that the virus may flourish. The BCC and its members call on the government to keep our people at work maintaining the hygiene of the country and providing vital sanitisation services. With proper support our staff can carry on with their invaluable work in order that together we can defeat this awful disease."

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