Professions of the Future: Indoor Environmental Experts
Integrated Cleaning and Measurement (ICM) is changing the perception of the cleaning industry and generating interest from individuals who want to pursue cleaning as a career. By employing the newest cleaning and measurement technologies and encouraging innovation with the larger goal of protecting public health, ICM is attracting students and new groups of professionals to the industry.
'Yesterday's ‘janitors' are tomorrow's ‘indoor environmental experts',' said Beth Risinger, CEO/Executive Director of the International Executive Housekeepers Association (IEHA). 'The future of public health largely depends upon individuals who can keep our environments clean and free from harmful contaminants such as allergenic particles, air- and surface-borne toxins, biopollutants and bacteria. With ICM, participants become scientists, innovators, managers and administrators of health. As a result, many people are starting to understand the value of cleaning and view it as a meaningful and stimulating career that will soon be in high demand.'
ICM is an open-source system in which 'best practices' are defined by scientific measurement of cleaning outcomes. Like other open-source systems, users generate data that contribute to its growth and development.
ICM primarily consists of four steps, including measurement, comparison, experimentation and implementation. This process is followed by all participants to generate quantifiable baselines for benchmarking and performance improvement that will enhance levels of cleanliness and associated health outcomes.
'In many European countries, cleaning is a highly-respected vocation—not something done by an individual without in-depth knowledge, training and experience,' said Marion Stecklow, director of environmental health and safety of PenguinCare, a consultancy that focuses on the creation of healthier indoor environments. 'ICM is changing many traditional paradigms associated with cleaning, including the way it is performed, its perception in our communities and its impact on human health.
As students learn more about ICM and the correlation between cleaning and public health, they want to know more about internships and careers in the industry.'
In addition to providing users with data that improves the cleanliness of a facility, ICM also quantifies and documents productivity gains correlated with best practices, and can be used to justify cleaning purchases and business expenses, such as increased salaries.
'Individuals who become indoor environmental specialists or experts will help define the future of public health,' added Risinger. 'With the tools and protocols established by ICM, they will find a rewarding career that not only helps protect building occupants but also enhances personal development and financial stability through its emphasis on continuous learning, innovation and improvement.'
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Allen Rathey is the principal of the Healthy Facilities Institute (HFI), director of the Indoor Wellness Council (IWC), and author of articles about best practices in cleaning and indoor environmental management.
*The Healthy Facilities Institute (HFI) and the Indoor Wellness Council (IWC) do not endorse products.