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Managing quality in German contract cleaning21st of January 2015
German correspondent Thomas Schulte-Marxloh on quality certification in contract cleaning.
Public awarding authorities as well as private customers in Germany trust in quality assurance more and more. While some years ago the main requirement was that potential contracting companies were run by a master craftsman, customers today commonly rely on a certification mark for the contract cleaning sector – RAL-GZ 902.
In the public sector this trend has been intensified by a revisited public procurement law. Moreover schools, hospitals, retirement homes etc, increasingly compete with each other - consequently, these institutions emphasise the range of services offered which includes cleanliness. So facilities today have to be managed accordingly.
As customer orientation can be visualised by the attractive appearance of a building, it is important to choose a competent and likewise competitive cleaning contractor that delivers quality work and keeps the facility well maintained and tidy. The RAL certification mark can help building owners to identify eligible cleaning companies, as RAL-GZ 902 is designed in particular for the contract cleaning business and defines relevant requirements.
The ISO 9000+ certification does not exactly guarantee the level of proficiency as it only refers to a compliance with quality management.
The RAL quality assurance puts a focus on technical qualification, reliability and capability of the contract cleaning company and also considers whether its offered price is transparent and appropriate; therefore, the certification includes all traditional assessment criteria of public procurement regulations. Apart from that the application of environmentally friendly cleaning methods or implementation of a work safety scheme is taken into account.
Continuous monitoring, either internal by the individual company or external by independent testing institutes, guarantees compliance with legal and technical standards. External monitoring includes the inspection of the premises, an assessment of cleaned buildings and audition of a norm-compliant quality management system.
A qualification of the operations manager according to the Handicraft Regulation Act as well as an entry in the official register of handicrafts is a prerequisite. Checking the local presence of a company ensures appropriate care of the building. The professional qualification of staff regarding the handling of machines, working materials and procedures has to be secured by internal instructions and inspections.
In order to guarantee transparency in terms of contract for both client and contractor, contract specifications have to be defined and itemised; including frequency, time and financial costs of cleaning.
Machinery and other equipment is reviewed regarding its compliance with present standards in terms of technology and methods of operation. Certificates of non-objection by the local tax office and health insurance funds are as obligatory as a certificate regarding contributions to employer’s liability insurance coverage or public liability.
Due to legal regulations experts regarding environmental protection or occupational safety have to be available in the company. With respect to occupational safety all required documents are reviewed. Of course, the objects cleaned are inspected as well to guarantee the standard the mark promises.
The RAL quality mark comprising internal and external audits as well as comprehensive quality checks has gained reputation, and not only amongst public clients.