Since the launch of the company in 2003, Specialised Sterile Environments (SSE) has experienced year-on-year growth, becoming the go-to company of knowledge and expertise in the life sciences sector.
But the past year has been a particularly busy time. With more than two-thirds of SSE’s business based in the life sciences sector, the company has had a vital role to play in ensuring this essential area of industry has been able to keep operating, safely, throughout the crisis.
“Our staff have been exceptional and our cleaning operatives throughout the country have been key to business remaining open,” chief executive Mary Connell said. “The training and methods of cleaning we provide are essential in the reduction of contamination. Since our inception in 2003, contamination control has always been to the fore of what we do, and our experience was called on by all our customers early in the onset of the pandemic where we were able to assist many clients with the design and implementation of their Covid-19 procedures.”
This was particularly important for the company’s established client base in the medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturing sector.
“Seventy per cent of SSE’s business is in the life sciences sector, and the life sciences sector has been working throughout the pandemic,” Connell said. “The services we provide are critical to our clients and indeed their customers.”
Those services include training to customers on cGmp and GDP practices, hand washing techniques and contamination control.
Connell said: “The cleaning of non-controlled areas is being treated just as important as a cleanroom. If these areas are not maintained to the same standards as the controlled areas, bad habits could lead to issues in the cleanroom and the products being produced.”
With headquarters in Galway and bases in Dublin and Limerick, SSE works with a multitude of internationally recognised players in the life sciences sector, providing an essential service to a wide range of companies across a spectrum of disciplines.
In more recent years, the company’s portfolio of clients has also expanded to include companies in the bio-pharmaceutical manufacturing environment.
Connell said: “SSE Cleaning provides crucial services to some of these companies, all of which are highly regulated and trust is integral to our partnerships with them.
“Some of our customers have cleanrooms that are 100 sq m and are doing critical R&D research; others have cleanrooms that are thousands of metres squared and are producing critical care packs for surgeons. Others are making medical devices that literally save lives and our services are critical to that process.”
This level of trust, expertise and pursuit of excellence was acknowledged in 2018 when SSE won the Outstanding Achievement Award, an accolade that recognises the highest levels of professionalism within the contract cleaning sector. It’s an acknowledgement that Connell sees as a just reflection of her team’s dedication to high standards within the industry.
“When I started the company in 2003, I could never had imagined the success we’ve had in such a competitive space consisting of some major, global suppliers,” Connell said.
“This is down to our own frontline employees and our office-based support team.
“In the contract cleaning business, your reputation is your brand, and our employees have been excellent representatives of our brand down through the years. Particularly in the last year, throughout the pandemic, they have adjusted to all the changes in their working environments and adapted exceptionally well.”
Commitment to staff development and wellbeing remains a key focus. “We always look to invest in the training and education of staff through the delivery of specialist cGMP, GDP cleanroom technology training and, in addition to this, each member of staff receives a minimum of 20 hours of training annually,” Connell said.
“We provide risk assessments and method statements along with specialised hand-washing videos, gowning videos, and transfer room training, along with creating posters for the gowning and removal of PPE aseptically. We have in-house health and safety to allow awareness for all employees and clients and also provide full training of staff, along with intense auditing of procedures to ensure increased awareness, increased compliance and increased quality.”
Looking ahead, Connell is determined to continue to build on the reputation SSE has built as the go-to company for the life sciences sector. “Our focus for the year ahead is to continue to support our customers and ensure that we can meet their demands as the pandemic continues.
“We have gained the trust from our customers working in partnership, and our reputation for consistently delivering on critical procedures. With the knowledge and experience we have gained over the years, we are the life sciences experts.”