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Clean the water, clear the air

By | Coronavirus, Ductwork Cleaning, Legionella | No Comments

Writing at a time when the UK is yet to reach the peak of the Coronavirus epidemic, Gary Nicholls, MD of Swiftclean, takes a look at how we should be protecting the users of water and ventilation systems, both in a time of crisis and in the longer term.  

 

In the past weeks, we have become familiar with some new terms; social distancing, self-isolation and shielding; all part of the Government plan to prevent any further spread of COVID-19.

 

It has been absolutely the right decision to encourage working from home and therefore, inevitably to close offices and entire buildings. However, as an industry, this decommissioning has presented us with some new challenges. We have noticed, for example, a reluctance to continue with some regular maintenance, in order to facilitate social distancing. Although this is well meant, it is something of an own goal in terms of maintaining a healthy building in the future.

 

Healthy water systems are meant to be used. In fact, it is the frequent flow of water through a domestic water system which helps to keep it healthy and free from legionella bacteria. When properties are closed, water will remain static in the pipework. As we head into towards the summer months, the ambient temperature is rising and this water can become tepid, rather than cold. Tepid, static water provides the ideal conditions to aid the proliferation of legionella.

 

Legionella is, of course, the cause of the ‘flu-like Legionnaire’s Disease; but this seems to have been forgotten by some, in the rush to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. We must prevent both, as far as we can, as both are potentially lethal. Both attack the respiratory system, and both are particularly perilous for the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. What we absolutely must not forget is that Legionnaire’s Disease has a mortality rate of around 12% for those infected – higher, at present, than the rate for those with COVID-19. We also have a severely stretched and overtaxed NHS. The last thing that we need now, as a nation, is a spate of legionella outbreaks.

 

Special consideration must be given to legionella prevention measures when the usage of the water system has been substantially decreased or when recommissioning a building after shutdown. L8, the HSE approved code of practice on controlling the risk of legionnaires disease, recommends a review of the risk assessment where there have been significant changes to the use of a building, such as the number of people using it.

 

Hopefully, before the shutdown period, you will have taken the time to review your legionella risk assessment and ensure that your property is compliant with the Approved Code of Practice. During the shutdown, you should have been following regular, at least weekly, flushing routines for toilets, taps, shower heads and drinking fountains – any water outlet which has been idle. These flushing routines should be carried out with the least possibility of causing fine spray, which those carrying out the procedure could inhale.

 

To be on the safe side, after a prolonged period in which it has not been used, you should call in a specialist to clean and disinfect your water system. This should be done before the regular cleaners start preparing the building to reopen, to ensure that the domestic water supply is safe and legionella free. This will protect not just the end users, but also the property owners and managers.

 

If there is a legionella outbreak, both the organisation and the individuals responsible for risk control can be prosecuted for negligence. Coronavirus will not be a defence in law. In the event of a guilty verdict, the court can impose limitless fines on the organisation responsible, while any individuals convicted may face a custodial sentence.

 

It is best not to delay routine legionella prevention at all – this is essential work. A professional specialist provider will be able to timetable legionella prevention work for completion out of normal business hours, to observe social distancing while they work, and will use personal protection equipment as a matter of course. They can carry out the work safely, even during a lock-down period.

 

The quality of indoor air in a property should not be neglected either, especially at a time when we are trying to ensure as healthy an indoor environment as possible. Clean air is not compatible with a dirty ventilation system and, regrettably, there are still quite a lot of those in existence. Fortunately, since 2013, when the second edition of TR/19, the leading guidance document concerning ventilation ductwork hygiene, was issued by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), there have been testing protocols for new ventilation systems to ensure they are thoroughly clean before commissioning. This has meant that the system was clean at the start of its life, assuming of course that the protocol was followed. However, many systems installed before that date were not cleaned before their first use, and may never have been cleaned since.

 

It is essential that we clean ventilation ductwork in compliance with TR19®, the latest incarnation of the BESA guidelines, which is currently under review, as we seek to improve industry best practice still further. TR19® gives us clear tables to follow when considering cleanliness assessment and regular testing, according to the system quality classification, and the type of function of the facility which the ventilation system serves. Compliance with TR19® is, again, something that we would not recommend putting off.

 

In the current climate we would also recommend adding a further process, cleaning the interior surface of the ventilation ductwork with medical surface disinfectant, especially in areas where there has been a recent suspected or confirmed case of Coronavirus. This sensible precaution can be carried out at little extra cost during a routine TR19® clean, or can be conducted as a one-off service to provide deep cleaning and additional peace of mind.

 

With a solution of the same chemical disinfectant, we can also clean more difficult equipment such as radiators, boiler plant, light fittings, heating controls, door handles, soft furnishings and a host of other surfaces, using a fogging method. This will destroy the COVID-19 virus, which is typically accepted can survive for 72 hours on many surfaces.

 

It is a difficult balancing act at the moment, maintaining property and keeping our distance. In the long term, for the health of the nation, it will pay to keep air and water compliance as a top priority.

Stepping up hygiene so we can all breathe more easily

By | Coronavirus, Ductwork Cleaning, News | No Comments

The importance of hygiene best practice in combating the spread of Coronavirus has become all too familiar in the last few weeks. However, we should be applying this to ventilation systems, as well as people.  Gary Nicholls, MD of ductwork hygiene and legionella risk experts Swiftclean, outlines a few sensible precautions we can take to ensure a healthier building.

 

Now, more than ever, it is important to ensure that our indoor environments are as healthy as possible. Yet many property managers are overlooking hygiene in one important area – the ventilation system. This oversight is entirely understandable. In order to limit the spread of this new illness, we are vacating the office and other workplaces in favour of working from home. But is everyone safer at home?

 

In local housing settings which rely on a mechanical ventilation system, we should be giving some serious thought to the cleanliness of the ventilation system itself, in order to ensure good indoor air quality. The whole purpose of the ventilation system is to draw in fresher air from outside and to expel staler air from inside. If we wish to circulate clean air, logic demands that we should be using clean ventilation ductwork. Successful self-isolation will require a clean air supply in order to promote good health. In our modern tightly sealed buildings, it is easy for air to become stale or laden with indoor pollutants such as cleaning products, which can exacerbate existing respiratory conditions such as asthma.

 

Sadly, as ductwork experts we are all too aware that many of our older ventilation systems are far from hygienically clean. Before the second edition of TR/19, the leading guidance document on ventilation hygiene issued by the BESA, came into force in 2013, there was no clear understanding of whose responsibility it was to ensure that newly installed ductwork was compliantly clean before commissioning and actual use. Sadly, the credit crunch of 2008 also meant that ventilation ductwork cleaning became one of the first casualties of the cutbacks.

 

As a result, there are far too many ventilation systems in our multiple dwellings and workplaces which have either not been cleaned for over a decade – or which have never been properly cleaned at all.

 

This is a real concern to us in the current crisis. We do not understand enough yet about the transfer and spread of this disease, but we are clear that the most vulnerable groups include those with asthma and other respiratory problems, which can be made worse by poor air quality. In order to promote good indoor air quality and therefore good health and wellbeing, we need clean ventilation systems, so the cleaning of the ventilation system in accordance with TR19® should now be a high priority for every building manager.

 

The TR19® compliant clean is excellent under normal circumstances, but, at the moment, we strongly recommend a deep clean of the system using medical disinfectant known to attack and destroy almost all known viruses and bacteria. This chemical clean can be performed at the same time as TR19 cleaning at little extra cost, or can be carried out on its own if you are at all concerned about the cleanliness of your ventilation system.

 

Treatment with this chemical solution can, incidentally, also be applied through a fogging process to sanitise all interior surfaces, hard and soft, and to eliminate the Coronavirus from any rooms, or even entire buildings, in which there has been a suspected or confirmed case.

 

It is worth noting that in residential housing with multiple dwellings, we could be accommodating NHS staff and other front-line workers. Sadly, not all our essential workers are highly paid, so are, ironically, quite likely to live in rented accommodation served by communal ventilation systems, the cleanliness of which is always imperative.

 

We also strongly recommend not letting up on essential preventative maintenance such as ACoP L8 legionella prevention, especially in housing situations. We are relying heavily on handwashing to keep people safe, so we must ensure that the water is safe and free from legionella bacteria.

 

Legionnaire’s Disease, caused by legionella bacteria, is also a ‘flu-like illness which poses a potentially lethal threat to those with underlying medical conditions. In fact, the rate of fatalities among those who contract Legionnaire’s Disease is around 12% – greater, at the time of writing, than the toll from Coronavirus. If you manage to avoid Coronavirus only to fall prey to an outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease, you will certainly be no better off.

 

Once the crisis is over and people are safe to return to work, you will also need to give a lot of thought to legionella prevention. If water outlets such as toilets, taps and showers have been idle for some time due to lack of use, you will need to ensure that you flush the system thoroughly to provide a supply of fresh, clean, safe water for returning workers.

 

A healthier building provides a healthier quality of both air and water – both of which are essential to our good health. Let’s not overlook the hygiene of our air and water while we do our best to turn the tide on Coronavirus.

Swiftclean expands new Coronavirus prevention services

By | Coronavirus, News | No Comments

Ventilation ductwork cleaning expert Swiftclean has already expanded its new deep cleaning services to combat COVID-19 Coronavirus, in response to demand. In addition to its recently announced ventilation ductwork deep cleaning, the company’s new environmental cleaning for hard surfaces has already been expanded to treat entire rooms and buildings with both hard and soft surfaces, using fogging technology.

 

Fogging is a reliable method of distributing medical sanitising chemical across a wide variety of hard and softer surfaces. Says Gary Nicholls, MD of Swiftclean, “With this methodology we can treat hard surfaces including light switches, door handles, toilets, chairs, tables, telephones, IT equipment, desks, hand rails and other fittings and equipment. This method also effectively tackles softer surfaces such as furniture upholstery, partitions, blinds, floor coverings and all other surfaces within in each room.

 

“This is ideal for areas where there has been a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, but it may also appeal to many building managers as a sensible precaution where essential staff must continue to attend the premises and as a safeguard before the full team returns to properties which are currently empty while employees attempt to work form home.”

 

The two new services are a cost-effective way to strengthen hygiene best practice to combat the spread of Coronavirus, says Nicholls. “Many of our customers are choosing to add a ventilation surface deep clean at the same time as scheduled TR19® compliance clean, which we can do for very little additional cost. We can also provide ventilation deep cleaning with a medical surface sanitising chemical as a one-off clean, which is a sensible precaution against the airborne COVID-19 Coronavirus.  Our environmental deep clean fogging service is also quite a cost-effective way of ensuring that there are no virus cells remaining on surfaces once staff return to work, or to protect essential personnel who are still required to attend work in person.”

 

In order to provide these services, Swiftclean is diverting engineers from less time-critical ongoing maintenance services; however, the company advises strongly against delaying scheduled work on legionella prevention. Legionella bacteria, which causes the potentially lethal Legionnaire’s Disease, tends to proliferate in static water. “If your premises are currently unoccupied, or under-occupied, with water outlets which are normally in use being left idle, it is crucial that you follow essential flushing and testing routines, especially as the warmer weather arrives. If you have scheduled legionella work, don’t postpone it, but do make sure that social distancing and safe working practices are followed so it can be delivered in safety. If necessary, reschedule your legionella work for completion out of hours, but don’t delay it or put it off until after the current crisis – we don’t know when this will end. Legionella risk is elevated by higher ambient temperature and we are now moving into our warmer months of spring and soon summer. The last thing we need as a nation is a series of legionella outbreaks in addition to the Coronavirus epidemic.”

 

Swiftclean can be contacted on 0800 243 471 or by email at info@swiftclean.co.uk for further advice and a free quote.

Delaying Legionella prevention adds to public health risk, says Swiftclean

By | Coronavirus, Legionella, News | No Comments

Legionella risk experts, Swiftclean, are warning property managers not to let up on ACoP L8 legionella compliance in the face of the Coronavirus public health emergency. But to ensure proper social distancing is practiced when having the service delivered.

 

Well-intentioned attempts by property managers to protect staff and residents from contamination from COVID-19 have caused them to suggest postponing or delaying scheduled legionella control work and risk assessments; but this is extremely unwise, says Swiftclean. To do so will potentially pose even greater risks to public health. Legionella bacteria, which causes the potentially lethal ‘flu-like Legionnaire’s Disease, remains a very real hazard to public health, especially to those very categories of vulnerable people that the Government is most trying to protect from Coronavirus.

 

“To postpone critical legionella control work or legally required risk assessments, even at this time, could equally cause harm. Legionnaire’s Disease, which can result from exposure to legionella bacteria, is potentially just as lethal as Coronavirus. In fact, the fatality rate for Legionnaire’s Disease is around 12% of those who contract it, which is currently higher than that for COVID-19,” said Gary Nicholls, MD of Swiftclean. “With COVID-19 prevention relying heavily on regular handwashing and the media full of advice to sip water regularly to wash microbes down to the stomach, clean, safe water is absolutely imperative for all of us.”

 

Legionella is a particular risk in unused water systems where water has stopped flowing and can therefore stagnate. In the current crisis, many commercial properties especially are under occupied, and water outlets being used far less frequently, so that people can work from home and practice social distancing and self-isolation. With people using water systems far less regularly, the legionella risk will be increased. If anything, says Swiftclean, the measures being enacted to combat the spread of Coronavirus make it even more critical for legionella compliance to be observed.

 

Swiftclean suggests that rather than postpone, legionella work should be carried out as planned but conducted after normal business hours, when very few property users are in attendance. Legionella control engineers already observe strict precautions to deliver legionella compliance work safely.

 

Gary Nicholls said, “We believe it is a far greater risk to public health to delay planned preventative maintenance for legionella compliance, than to allow our highly trained, fully equipped, expert teams to continue their critical work to minimise the risk of legionella bacteria and keep Legionnaire’s Disease at bay.”

COVID-19 Update from Swiftclean

By | Coronavirus, News, Swiftclean | No Comments

Dear Swiftclean supporter

I am writing to reassure you that during this time of concern over the spread of COVID-19 through the UK population, we are being especially vigilant in ensuring that we take every precaution to avoid the risk of contamination for you, your colleagues and for our own team.

To date, we are completely free of any suspected cases and we have no current cause for concern.

We are continuing to provide the highest levels of service while following all the relevant guidance and advice issued by HM Government and Public Health England.

Best practice for all

  • As a business, we will be embracing all the recommended procedures for preventing infection with Coronavirus.
  • We have reviewed all our hygiene protocols and added several which will help prevent the spread of all ailments, even minor coughs and colds, as we wish our team to be as well as possible.
  • When we visit your site, we will not shake hands with you or stand too close – we’re not being unfriendly, we are simply promoting your welfare and ours. We’re not shaking hands with each other either.
  • Our on-site teams are under strict instructions to report any symptoms of illness, however minor, so that we can minimise any risk to you and to their colleagues.
  • Many of our teams have a broad set of skills, so should we experience sickness absences of any kind, we will do our best to reassign our engineers to provide uninterrupted services.
  • As many of our managers and senior team as possible will be working from home. We are investing in new equipment and technology to make this possible. These include new computer equipment and technology to facilitate remote working and of course we’re using our video conferencing system.
  • Our stores are well stocked and we are being vigilant in keeping levels appropriately high so that we continue to provide all our services as planned and maintain the strictest hygiene practices.
  • Any member of our team who has travelled abroad will self-isolate on their return – including the MD!
  • We will be staying up to date with, and following to the letter, all the latest advice from Government and health services. You can see the sources that we are following online at GOV.UK and Public Health England.

Above all, please be assured that we are operating as normal in delivering our services and that we have zero instances of suspected Coronavirus throughout our business.

We are currently all well, with no serious health concerns. We hope that you too are weathering this crisis successfully and we look forward to serving you diligently despite this new challenge.

With all best wishes
The Swiftclean Team

Legionella compliance is cool

By | Legionella, News | No Comments

Legionella compliance is cool

 

The cooler winter and spring months are an ideal time to make sure that your water system is healthy and that you have an up to date legionella risk assessment. Get compliant now and you are less likely to have problems when the warmer weather comes – legionella bacteria loves warm weather and tepid water.

 

How do you know if your legionella risk assessment is out of date?

 

If you have made any changes to your water system, such as adding or removing a tap, shower head or other water outlet, you must have a new risk assessment. This is because the major contributing factor for a legionella outbreak is from static water within the pipework system. Adding or removing an outlet can change the flow of water, creating what we call a ‘dead leg’ – an area in which water stops flowing freely. Nobody sets out to generate a dead leg, but you can unwittingly form one through a simple piece of plumbing, so if you make any alterations at all, you must carry out a new risk assessment.

 

Less well known is that if you have a change of manager for your property, you must also update your risk assessment. It is not enough to assume that your predecessor’s assessment is still valid. If you are the property manager, or the Responsible Person, it is your legal duty to control and prevent legionella. You will also be responsible in law if there is a legionella outbreak – so you must satisfy yourself that your risk assessment is current.

 

Legionella bacteria causes the potentially fatal ‘flu-like illness known as Legionnaires disease. For a fit, healthy adult, this is a serious and debilitating illness, but for the elderly, the very young and anyone with an underlying health condition, it can be fatal. The legal consequences for failing to prevent a legionella outbreak are appropriately serious – up to and including a custodial sentence for the Responsible Person, and limitless fines for the organisation.

 

Water systems must be compliant with L8, the Approved Code of Practice and guidance on Legionnaires’ disease, issued by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). If you have any doubts at all that your system is compliant, you should call in experts like our teams. Once you are compliant, ongoing monitoring for legionella is relatively simple, and we can train your team to do this yourself.

 

These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself:

Does my property have an appointed Responsible Person for legionella compliance?

Has the Responsible Person changed since our last legionella risk assessment?

Have we made any changes to the pipework since our last legionella risk assessment?

Are any of our taps, toilets and showers ever left unused for more than a week?

Are any unused outlets flushed regularly?

Are our water tanks clean, sound and free from ingress by rodents or insects?

Are our water tanks sufficiently shaded from solar gain?

When were our water tanks last cleaned or checked?

 

We can help you ensure that you are L8 compliant. Call us on 0800 243471, or email info@swiftclean.co.uk for a no obligation quote for our legionella prevention services.

 

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Kitchen extract seasonal cleaning

By | Kitchen Extract Cleaning, News | No Comments

Life in a commercial kitchen is always busy, but there are seasons when things are positively hectic. Christmas, Valentine’s day, Mother’s Day, and other times are great for business, but they can be very hard on the cleanliness of your kitchen extract ductwork and can cause a very serious fire risk. Cooking even the healthiest of food leaves grease deposits in kitchen extract ductwork. If a fire were to break out, this grease can fuel it, while the ductwork itself can help the fire to spread. The more you cook the more grease deposits will accumulate.

 

Commercial kitchens must comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order in terms of adequate control of fire risks. For your kitchen extraction system, TR19® Grease, the industry specification, applies all the year round, no matter how busy they are. It is a legal duty that requires kitchen extract ductwork to be kept clean and compliant with TR19® Grease. This compliance will also help to protect against the possible spread of fire, safeguard adjoining properties and the public, and protect businesses from the disruption and loss that fire damage can cause.

 

The TR19® Grease specification contains tables which tell you how often kitchen extract ductwork must be cleaned to remain compliant, depending on how heavily and frequently the kitchen extract system is used. It also precisely sets out the limits of compliance. For example, the grease deposits in your ductwork must be kept to within an average of 200 microns, which is about half the thickness of an average business card. If, in the case of a fire, investigators find that you were not TR19® Grease compliant, it can compromise your insurance cover and even lead to prosecution for negligence.

 

As an expert provider, and a member of the BESCA Ventilation Hygiene Elite (VHE) scheme, we work together with you to make sure your kitchen extract ductwork is TR19® Grease compliant,  and our cleans cause you  the least possible disruption. We will also provide you with full BESCA certified documentation, and a photographic record, of each clean.

 

When business is good, the last thing you need is a cleaning team disturbing your workflow. We know that care homes, hospitals and restaurants can be too busy during the day to accommodate the disruption of a clean, so our regional site teams will visit when you need them, even if that is overnight.

 

Some questions you might need to ask:

When was my kitchen extract ductwork last cleaned?

How often does my kitchen extract ductwork need to be inspected and cleaned according to TR19® Grease?

When is the best time for kitchen extract cleaning to TR19® Grease to take place?

How do I prove I have complied with TR19® Grease? Do I get a certificate?

Is there enough access to clean the whole kitchen extract ductwork system?

Is my expert cleaner a member of the BESCA VHE scheme?

 

 

To find out more, talk to one of our experts on 0800 243471 or contact us for a free, no obligation quote.

 

ends

Swiftclean wins prestigious PFM award

By | News, Swiftclean | No Comments

Dear Friends

I am delighted to be able to share with you the news that yesterday evening, at the highly prestigious PFM Awards 2019 in London, we were recognised with the cream of the UK Facilities Management industry. Swiftclean was declared the winner of the Partners in Expert Services category, together with our good friends and clients, Zing Leisure Ltd.

We have worked especially hard together since early 2018 to ensure that Zing is achieving full TR19®Grease compliance in its busy network of Burger King franchises, including the flagship store in London’s Leicester Square. It was a great pleasure, therefore, to be able to share our success on the night with Tony Sanderson of Zing.

I am very proud indeed of our team and of the way in which they have forged an exceptional working relationship with Zing Leisure. The judges praised all of us for forming a genuine bond and for producing measurable positive results in a way that reflects well on our entire industry.

I hope that it will reassure and encourage you to know that ours is an award-winning team. This is our first PFM Award, but is the latest of several awards and commendations, including H&V News and multiple HVR Awards, gained in the past few years.

We aim, always, to give our best on every contract, so please be assured that we are doing our best to ensure your compliance at all times. If there are further services that we provide that you are not yet using, please do make us aware as we would love to discuss how we can help you further.

My warmest regards,

Gary Nicholls

Managing Director

TR19® Grease – The new specification for kitchen extract fire safety cleaning

By | Kitchen Extract Cleaning, News, Swiftclean | No Comments

In July 2019, a new specification for the fire safety management of kitchen extract systems was issued by The BESA (Building Engineering Services Association.) This is known as TR19® Grease and has been drawn up to encourage improved standards of compliance by contractors providing kitchen extract fire safety cleaning.

TR19® Grease has been developed from section 7 of the second edition of TR/19, the section which gave guidance on specific considerations for kitchen extract systems. Despite the clear advice which section 7 set out, some contractors had failed to follow TR/19 guidance correctly, or had ignored it completely, resulting in:

  • Grease deposits remaining in ductwork that clients believed was compliant
  • A number of ductwork fires, some severe
  • Significant fire damage to properties
  • Kitchen operators finding themselves uninsured, despite having employed a kitchen extract fire safety cleaning contractor

What’s different about TR19® Grease?

  • TR19® Grease is now a standalone specification which places more emphasis on controlling fire risk from grease build-up within kitchen extract systems.
  • Not just a guide to good practice, TR19® Grease is an industry-wide specification which must be followed by contractors operating in the sector under this specification.
  • Contractors must be members of the Building Engineering Services Competence Assessment (BESCA) Ventilation Hygiene Elite (VHE) Scheme if they wish to certify their work as TR19® Grease
  • Members of the VHE Scheme must also abide by the BESCA Code of Conduct
  • TR19® Grease introduces minimum competency levels for technicians carrying out and signing off on-site kitchen extract cleaning. Technicians must now have the the BESA Grease Hygiene Technician (GHT) qualification.
  • Each time a kitchen extract clean is carried out the contractor should register on the BESCA VHE portal where and when the clean was carried out and if the system was fully or partially cleaned.
  • Registration on the BESCA VHE portal will generate a BESCA certificate which will provide evidence of the compliant clean or partial clean, which will support the Post Clean Report.
  • A small fee will be charged for each certificate issued following registration on the BESCA portal.
  • Cleaning frequencies should be regularly reviewed to ensure that grease can be controlled at safe levels.
  • Grease levels must be controlled so as to not exceed a mean average of 200 microns between scheduled cleans.

 

How BESCA and the VHE scheme will ensure that best practice is observed:

  • BESCA will monitor and audit the compliance of VHE members, both with its code of conduct and with the TR19® Grease
  • BESCA auditors will make periodic checks on VHE members by asking to review a selection of their post-clean reports for compliance auditing purposes.
  • BESCA will be able to revoke or reject the membership of contractors who are considered to be in breach of VHE Scheme requirements or code of conduct.

 

Our role at Swiftclean

At Swiftclean, we have been providing expert risk control cleaning and compliance for more than three decades.  We have assisted the BESA over the years with both the initial drafting and the evolution of TR/19 for the Internal Cleanliness of Ventilation System. We have been full members of the VHE scheme since its inception.

For the past 24 months we have been working with The BESA and the RISC Authority to help to develop this new specification, TR19® Grease. At Swiftclean, we have always been diligent in following the requirements of TR/19 closely and, as a result, we have built an impeccable fire safety record on which our clients can rely.

We welcome the new TR19® Grease specification as a major advance in fire safety best practice and will be making a small additional charge of £5 per certification from September 2019 to cover the cost of registration and certification through the scheme.

 

Our advice

  • Insurers will look favourably on those who insist that their contractors certify through BESCA. This may be reflected in more favourable rates, so it is certainly worth mentioning when renegotiating business insurances.
  • Using a VHE member like Swiftclean will give you greater confidence that work is carried out in compliance with TR19® Grease and with the updated TR19® for your ventilation ductwork.
  • BESCA certification may be an added protection in law for the appointed Responsible Person.
  • £5 per certificate is a small price to pay for peace of mind.
  • You do have the right to continue to ask that we self-certify. However, to be fully TR19® Grease compliant we are advising all our clients to take up BESCA certification as it will be an industry-wide certification and a clear indication that you have adopted industry best practice for your kitchen and your premises.

 

Swiftclean shortlisted in major flagship awards

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Duct cleaning and legionella risk experts Swiftclean, partnered with Zing Leisure, have been shortlisted for the prestigious Premises & Facilities Management Partnership Awards 2019, the flagship awards of the facilities management industry. Pitted in the final-line up against FM giant OCS, partnered with NEC Group; and safety specialist PTSG, partnered with Standard Life, Swiftclean is ranked among the top three UK specialist service providers in this year’s Partners in Expert Services category.

As an expert in ductwork cleaning, Swiftclean has been helping Zing Leisure to achieve and maintain full compliance with TR/19, the leading guidance document concerning ventilation hygiene, issued by BESA. Zing Leisure is the company behind a network of franchised Burger King outlets, including the flagship restaurant in Leicester Square, London. The management of Zing are scrupulously committed to compliance and turned to Swiftclean for help after being let down by a previous provider who had failed to achieve compliance with TR/19. Zing and Swiftclean have since formed an outstanding partnership which has achieved the shortlisting which puts them among the finest examples of industry best practice.

The partnership will now undergo further scrutiny from the judges, with the winners being announced at a glittering awards dinner in London in November 2019.

Swiftclean welcomes BESA ductwork fire safety campaign

By | Kitchen Extract Cleaning, News | No Comments

Swiftclean, the duct cleaning and legionella risk experts, have welcomed the new fire safety campaign launched by BESA. This was formed in response to the recent Aldgate fire in which yet another a fast food outlet was damaged, threatening the residential flats above it. Swiftclean Managing Director, Gary Nicholls, commented, “It is excellent to see BESA throwing its weight behind publicising the need for TR/19 compliance by highlighting the very real risk of fire which non-compliance poses.

“Our teams regularly tackle the results of non-compliance over a long period and witness first-hand the build-up of fat, oil and grease when regular TR/19 cleaning has not been carried out. We still, all too frequently see the kind of potential fire risk that caused the damage in Aldgate. The fact that this was entirely preventable makes it all the more concerning. BESA helping to raise awareness of the problem with this new initiative is entirely welcome and adds emphasis to our own efforts to raise awareness.”

Swiftclean recently won a coveted H&V News Award for its own campaigning efforts to raise awareness of the need to maintain fire dampers in ductwork and has also campaigned to ‘Make Hidden Grease Visible’, an initiative which has helped the company to win multiple awards over the past five years. Swiftclean is currently emphasising the need to keep all areas of the ventilation system ductwork accessible, so that TR/19 compliance cleaning can be carried out unhindered.

Gary Nicholls is also a member of the BESA steering committee which helps to draft TR/19, the leading guidance document concerning the hygiene of ventilation ductwork and has been instrumental in raising standards of compliance across the industry. Swiftclean is also a BESA training centre and has demonstrated exceptional commitment to training among its own technicians for several decades.

www.swiftclean.co.uk

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Serious restaurant ductwork fires highlight the importance of TR/19 compliance

By | Kitchen Extract Cleaning, News | No Comments

Swiftclean, duct cleaning and legionella risk experts, warned of the risks of neglecting TR/19 compliance, following two serious kitchen extract ductwork fires in London restaurants in early February 2019.

 

Eight fire engines and 60 firefighters attended a blazing fire in the ducting of a Chinese restaurant in Hounslow on 7 February 2019, while six fire engines and 40 firefighters were called to a restaurant fire in Brixton on 5 February 2019. In both cases fire took hold in the kitchen extract ductwork and began to spread through the building, threatening offices and living accommodation above the two restaurants.

 

Twenty people were evacuated from offices above the Chinese restaurant in Hounslow and, fortunately, there were no reported injuries. The London Fire Brigade report stated that the fire was believed to have been caused by an unattended saucepan of cooking oil, but the ductwork carried the fire from the ground floor kitchen to a washroom on the first floor. Both were destroyed by the fire.

 

According to the London Fire Brigade, the cause of the fire in Brixton was a build-up of grease in the extractor hood in the kitchen. One resident was evacuated from the flats above the Brixton restaurant as a precaution, but again, fortunately, there were no recorded injuries.

 

Gary Nicholls, Managing Director of Swiftclean, commented, “Grease in the ductwork is not always the cause of a fire, but the danger is that accumulated grease will spread fire further through the building and, once it is established within the ductwork, lack of access can make it more difficult for firefighters to tackle. TR/19 compliance is essential, not just for hygiene reasons but as a vital fire safety measure and to protect your business. If you don’t comply with TR/19 you can compromise your buildings insurance as well as putting staff, customers and neighbouring occupants at risk.”

 

Swiftclean has long been a leading advocate of TR/19 compliance, and provides specialist cleaning to TR/19 guidelines. MD Gary Nicholls is a member of the steering committee and co-author of TR/19, the leading industry guidance document on ventilation hygiene, which is issued by BESA.

 

www.swiftclean.co.uk

Warding off air quality problems

By | Ductwork Cleaning, News | No Comments

Warding off air quality problems

Clean air is probably more important for the facilities users of hospitals and care homes than in any other sector. In the light of recent reports of infection being spread through ventilation ductwork, Gary Nicholls, MD of duct cleaning experts Swiftclean, explains the importance of complying with TR/19 guidelines.

 

There was a time when clean air was prescribed by doctors as a health cure for patients with respiratory ailments, and it has long been recognised as beneficial for everyone. In the past, much of the concern over indoor air quality centred around preventing condensation by providing a plentiful air flow for the occupants of a building.  However, the recent incidence of infection being spread through uncleaned ductwork at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow has highlighted the importance of removing from ventilation ductwork, following inspection on a regular basis, the inevitable accumulated dust, dirt and lint that can harbour bacteria and mould spores.

 

All ventilation ductwork should be inspected and tested at regular intervals and cleaned where dust levels exceed the benchmark limits in compliance with TR/19, the leading guidance document for ventilation hygiene, issued by BESA. The second edition of TR/19 introduced a requirement for all newly installed ventilation systems to be handed over for use in cleaned, TR/19 compliant condition. This was an important advance because, prior to this, ventilation ductwork was all too often found to contain dirt and debris from the construction process. There still may be some systems which have never been cleaned and which pre-date the second edition of TR/19, so it is vital for good air quality that these are tested and where necessary cleaned to TR/19 guidelines as soon as possible.

 

Unfortunately, as it is largely hidden, it is too easy for the ventilation system to be out of mind as well as out of sight. Although news reports of infection being spread are alarming, we should take them as an impetus to spur us to inspect, test and where necessary clean ventilation systems regularly. This benefits everyone. Care staff who work in poor air quality will suffer a cumulative long-term effect leading to increased sickness and absence levels, which is not good news for patients or managers. Additional costs will be incurred for replacing staff on sick leave, putting additional pressure on hospital budgets. Patients with compromised health or immune systems will be more immediately vulnerable to the ill effects of poor air quality, particularly hazards such as airborne spores or bacteria. Just as handwashing is now a major emphasis in hospitals, clean air should also be a high priority.

 

In every commercial building, it is important to classify the ductwork of the ventilation system as low, medium or high in terms of cleaning requirements. In a hospital, there will be different classifications according to the area and function of each sector of the building. The manager responsible for maintenance, perhaps in consultation with infection control, will need to define the classifications of each ventilation system serving the healthcare facility. Operating theatres, not surprisingly, will typically have a high classification. Wards, although not quite as critical, must have a good indoor air quality in order to promote speedy recovery and good health, so these will likely be given a medium classification. All public areas, as well as administrative offices should also be given a classification, typically medium. Less well occupied areas such as boiler rooms can be probably be given a low classification, however, steps must still be taken to ensure that these premises are as clean as possible, to prevent bacteria, such as the pigeon-related infection which affected Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, from entering the ventilation system.

 

The actual cleaning process in all these classification areas is the same, it requires the effective removal of any dust, dirt, lint or construction debris, leaving the ductwork completely clean and capable of meeting the TR/19 post clean verification test. The practical difference between the different classifications is in the thickness or weight of deposit which indicates cleaning being required. TR/19 sets out helpful tables which indicate how frequently the various areas in a building should be tested according to their cleanliness classification. Some parts of a hospital will require particular treatment; for example, laundry extracts must be regularly cleaned to remove dust and lint particles which can cause fires. Another potential fire hazard is the build up of grease in a kitchen extract system. Again, TR/19 explains how often these should be cleaned according to the rate of grease accumulation.

 

In order to comply with TR/19, it is essential that we have access to the entire ventilation system, so particular attention should be given in every new system, to providing adequate access to achieve TR/19 compliance throughout. In older systems, we can retrofit additional access doors, but where solid ceilings and false walls are added after installation, this may not be possible without major renovation works. It is far better, therefore, to design and install new ventilation systems with future TR/19 compliance in mind.  In settings where we care for the sick or infirm, maintaining good indoor air quality, and therefore the ability to access all the areas of the ventilation system, is always essential for everyone.

 

www.swiftclean.co.uk