Cleaners Working Longer Hours As Firms Struggle To Cope With High Demands For Disinfection Services
Earlier this month, it was revealed that some HDB estates had cleaners who were disinfecting public spaces up to 3 times a day.
While it is a necessary measure during this Covid-19 outbreak, cleaning firms are struggling to cope with the demand.
Thus, cleaners are loaded with extra duties and hours. Some are even working for 16 hours a day, reported TODAY Online.
Cleaners working hard to disinfect using chemicals & cold fogging
With the current outbreak, many companies are saddled with requests for disinfection services. This has been the case since 2 weeks ago, cleaning companies told TODAY Online.
Disinfection control is different from the normal cleaning we see.
It uses chemicals, such as ethanol, and technology, like cold fogging, which are in line with the National Environment Agency’s guides.
High demand, low supply of workers
The rise in demand for such disinfection services was “unprecedented”, said Mr Ng, managing director of Conrad Maintenance Services.
His company has been receiving 40% more requests for such services. Previously, their clients would engage them once a month.
Now, they are “struggling to manage”.
For he and his disinfection team, work hours have doubled — from 8 to 16. Mr Ng shared with TODAY Online that having to work such long hours every day feels “worse than SARS”.
Working as cleaners a ‘high-risk’ job
The demand is difficult to meet due to lack of workers. On one hand, companies are choosing not to hire more workers since the future is uncertain for them.
On the other hand, people are wary of taking up a ‘high-risk’ job. Despite offering a more competitive salary of $30 to $40 per hour, Mr Ng has not found success in hiring workers for disinfection services.
Image for illustration purposes only
Furthermore, disinfection services cannot be carried out by temporary workers. Only those who are specially trained are qualified to do so, according to Mr Tong from EcoDeepClean.
Not enough equipment
Others are finding it difficult to cope because there is not enough equipment.
Mr Peng, owner of Abba Maintenance Services, is one of them. Just like Mr Ng, his clients only engaged his company once a month for disinfection services.
His company had limited machines and was “not prepared to serve higher volumes”.
Public spaces more frequently cleaned
Public spaces such as MRT stations and lifts are being cleaned on a more frequent basis.
Mr Boo, managing director of the company which maintains SBS Transit MRT stations, told TODAY Online that surface cleaning with hospital grade disinfectants is being done every 2 hours.
Previously, it was done once a day.
Mr Rakib, a Town Council cleaner, now has more tasks on top of his 12-hour shift. He cleans playgrounds and lifts using disinfectants thrice a day now.
Although he feels tired, he “[doesn’t] mind doing more to keep the place clean and safe” in light of the outbreak.
Kudos to our heroes
In a time when healthcare workers are hailed as heroes for fighting Covid-19 on the frontline, let’s not forget the hardships of our cleaners.
They are working extra hard to ensure that our public spaces are clean and safe to use. Kudos to them for doing their part.
Featured image adapted from AFP.