Over the past year, the pandemic brought a new focus: outbreak prevention in the workplace.
“While it’s impossible to know how many COVID transmissions took place at work, we do know that proper cleaning can play a crucial role in decreasing risk of transmission,” says Gavin MacGregor Skinner, director of the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC). “The two million people in the cleaning profession have an essential role to play,” he says. “They are the frontline being asked to clean, sanitize and disinfect areas where infectious diseases live.”
In response to COVID, businesses across the country have been cleaning more frequently and updating their cleaning protocols—in many cases with little direction given to ensure that the right products and processes were being used.
“Cleaning can do a lot more than just make a space look better; it can actually kill viruses and bacteria to make it safer for people,” explains Skinner. “But it has to be done right to be effective, which means both knowing which materials and processes are appropriate for your workspace and making sure that your cleaning staff has the training to use them properly.”
Used improperly, cleaning products can be ineffective or even harmful. Wiping up disinfectant too quickly, for example, limits its effectiveness.
Enter GBAC, which established a cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention program to help minimize risks associated with infectious agents like the novel coronavirus. By following the program’s cleaning protocols, disinfection techniques and work practices, companies of all sizes can combat biohazards and infectious disease to help provide a safer environment for employees and customers.
GBAC: Outbreak Prevention, Response and Recovery Accreditation for Facilities
A GBAC-Trained Technician can help guide a business through ensuring that disinfectant chemicals and cleaning processes are appropriate for the area and that they are being used properly. In addition to an in-depth assessment of the materials and cleaning protocols in use, the GBAC review process entails examining surfaces to evaluate efficacy.
“From a company or facility standpoint, the GBAC STAR Facility Accreditation Program helps them develop a plan, determine what needs to be cleaned and how often, the equipment, the chemicals and resources, and the skill sets and competencies they need to do that,” says Skinner.
“It’s a comprehensive program that covers everything from what tools and chemicals are being used to how the results are being measured so that we know that what they are doing actually works,” explains Skinner. “Instead of, ‘I bought this piece of machinery and put it in the room, but I don’t know whether it works,’ you’ll know it works because it was measured. We go through and vet all of a facility’s protocols. We check for consistency, demonstrate ways of measuring effectiveness and advise them on a plan for continuous improvement.”
Start—and Finish—With a Site Assessment
In addition to examining written protocols, GBAC trained professionals conduct walkthroughs of facilities to observe and assess practices in real time. This site risk assessment helps to gather critical data that allows businesses to determine the materials, equipment and process required for their site, and then to ensure that the cleaning protocols are being followed in practice.
“Often, there’s an assumption that everyone knows how to clean, but it’s not sufficient to just hand someone cleaning supplies and send them out to clean. To get the full safety benefit, they need to use the right techniques,” says Skinner.
A site review can help a company to pinpoint areas for improvement, such as identifying high-touch surfaces that should be cleaned more frequently and making sure cleaning chemicals are being stored and managed properly. Observing the cleaning staff on the job also helps to ensure that employees are working in a manner that is effective and that they are using cleaning chemicals according to manufacturer guidelines.
Following the review, businesses that meet GBAC’s criteria can apply for STAR certification, which demonstrates that they’ve gone through the organization’s rigorous inspection process and met GBAC’s highest standards of workplace safety. The end result? Your employees—as well as your customers—can enjoy the comfort that comes from knowing that your business is a GBAC Star facility, one that has taken the necessary steps to keep your workplace clean and healthy.
Visit Staples Advantage to learn more about a free site assessment by a GBAC-certified expert.