A Colour Coding System and Infection Control for Cleaners - Part I


In Knowledge Resource, Training, Infection Control, Colour Coding


Guide to Colour Coding and Infection ControlWhenever and wherever cleaning is taking place, it is extremely important that all potentially harmful bacteria are prevented from travelling around the building. One of the ways in which such bacteria can be transmitted throughout a building is via the same cleaning equipment and solutions being used in areas of different use i.e. using the cloths and mops to clean a toilet to also clean a food preparation area can cause serious health hazards.

Therefore, in order to minimise the risk of infection, cleaning operatives must adopt effective infection control procedures. In this Guide we will look at colour-coding systems and how they can be adapted to suit the workplace and incorporated within the overall cleaning regime.

Once the concept of the importance of colour coding is fully understood by cleaning operatives and they fully appreciate how effectively it contributes to the prevention of infection, you will be well on the way to ensuring a safer working environment for all users of the building, one of the central requirements of Health and Safety legislation.

Source of Bacteria

Before we look at ways of preventing the spread of bacteria and infection throughout the building, let us consider the main source of bacteria, that is, soil.

It is generally accepted that most of the soil that enters a building does so via people using the building as normal. There are other ways in which soil can enter the building and we will deal with these a little later.

Let us look at the composition of the different types of soil originating in different parts of the building to give us a better understanding of the problem. The following table will give you some understanding of the types of soil encountered throughout the building and help you appreciate the importance of soil removal in maintaining a hygienic working environment.

Soil Chart

All areas will have insect carcasses and pest droppings depending on the type and levels of infestation (if any). For now, let’s look at the soil which is “walked in” to the building and the way in which barrier matting can help reduce it significantly.

Soil Prevention

It has been calculated that approximately 80% of the total amount of soil present within a building is brought into a building via peoples’ feet. It has also been estimated that up to 90% of this soil can be prevented from entering the building by the use of an effective barrier matting system at all entrances.

We can put the problem of walked in soil into perspective by illustrating the extent to which cleaning costs are increased by dealing with it by asking you to consider the following fact:

If 100 people per day enter a building, over the course of a year approximately 25kg of soil will enter the building through an unprotected entrance.On average, it will cost between £800- £900 to remove 1kg of soil. So over the course of a year, it could cost up to £22,500 to clean it up. Simply staggering!

It is clear that barrier matting should be considered as an integral part of the general maintenance programme of the building. In summary then, let us consider the problem:

The Problem

Therefore part of the solution will be the installation of an effective floor maintenance programme such as a barrier matting system that works.

For a matting system to work, it should:

  • Be effective in removing dirt, grit and moisture from the feet passing over it.
  • Be of adequate length to maximise the number of footfalls.
  • Retain dirt and moisture to prevent re-tracking.
  • Stay looking good even during bad weather. • Be easy to clean so it retains its appearance.

Except for very low traffic areas, the highest soil removal will be achieved by using 2 complementary types of matting i.e. Primary “scraper” matting followed by Secondary matting to remove fine dirt and moisture:

There are three methods that can be employed to provide effective protection at building entrances. These are: (Although manufacturers of barrier matting can provide all-purpose matting that scrapes, cleans and dries feet, we will assume that a two mat system is adopted).

Approach cleaning This requires a mat, or mats, capable of scraping feet, removing soil and absorbing moisture situated before the entrance to the building, preferably beneath a canopy. (see the following diagram)

Scraping Mat2

Approach and post-entry cleaning This requires the provision of protective mats to be positioned on the approach to the building and inside of the main entrance.The scraping mat should be placed on the approach, ideally beneath a canopy. Also, the provision of a ramped approach will increase the effectiveness of the mat by allowing water to run away from it naturally. The absorbent mat should be positioned inside the building so that soil is removed from shoes on entrance. The colour of this mat is important as colours that will show up stains and traffic lanes should be avoided.

Scraping Mat

Post-entry cleaning This system provides both scraping and absorbent mats within the building.

Scarping mat 3

Matting needs throughout the building To maximise the benefits of the barrier matting system and reduced risk of slip and trip accidents you need to match the position and allocation of mats to traffic levels in the building. Initially, the main entrance of the building should be protected with a suitable barrier. However, you should consider the need for protecting all other minor entrances or points of access to the building. Dimensions required In the simplest terms no entrance matting will provide the level of dirt and moisture removal required if it is too short. The minimum requirement of primary entrance matting should be 2 metres; this will allow the feet enough contact to effectively scrape and remove the bulk of dirt. With secondary matting it is recommended that a minimum of 4 metres is required for effective moisture removal. Again this length will mean on average 2-3 steps with each foot, maximising moisture removal

In part 2 we will deal with additional control methods and the chain of infection.


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A Colour Coding System and Infection Control for Cleaners - Part II



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