Environmental Staff Rationalization


The client was planning to open a new six-story, 1.4 million square feet hospital with 500 beds. Unlike the old facility, the new one would also include space rented to physicians.

The client planned to use the in-house Environmental Services group to perform contract work to clean tenant physician offices.

The challenge facing the Environmental Services group was the need to plan for staff requirements. Items to be planned included: staffing levels, roles, hiring procedures, quality inspection, and staff training.


Projecting staffing needs based on current building experience was not practical. The old building staffing levels had not been developed in a quantitative way and had inconsistent staff training and accountability.

The current inspection and supervision system was obsolete and poorly followed. Cleanliness was a recurring issue in the existing facility, and there was a debate about comparing the amount of work needed to clean a new facility versus that for an old one.


A joint project team, including the client’s Environmental Services Director and their Training Supervisor, was formed.

The team documented cleaning and quality requirements and quantified cleaning needs. The team then quantified all spaces to be cleaned and categorized each by the level of cleaning intensity required. Space types varied widely and included:

  • Offices
  • Hallways
  • Bathrooms
  • Patient rooms
  • ICU areas
  • Surgery Suites
  • Storage areas

The team identified and used national time standards for cleaning the many space types. They then verified the standards by collecting actual time study data and comparing that with national norms. Some standards were then adjusted.

The team determined the needed frequency of cleaning in each type of area – from several times per day in the ICU rooms to once or twice per week in the office areas.

The team negotiated cleaning standards with building tenants so each one could receive and pay for a desired level of service.

The team also developed a more detailed and consistent training program for staff and a more effective inspection and supervision system based on cleaning results. Staffing calculations also included a calculated level of Personal/Fatigue/Delay time as well as calculations and planning for appropriate back-up for paid and unpaid time off.


The hospital saved $750,000 per year by using the new staffing plan rather than the original approach. The project returned more than four times the cost of the study in the first year.

The scheduling system, staff training, and inspection system also resulted in:

• Cleaner spaces

• Reduced nosocomial infections

• Accountable cleaning staff