Have you ever heard of the GBAC? If you’re like most people, I’m willing to bet you haven’t. However, if you’re operating a business that exists in the physical world in the age of COVID, this is one acronym you should probably familiarize yourself with.
Most importantly, as the Germ Girl, I’m here to tell you that those four letters represent the gold standard. That is to say when it comes to dealing with COVID and whatever post-pandemic life is going to look like.
What does GBAC stand for?
First, in case you’re not a cleaning expert like me, I should probably bring you up to speed on exactly what I’m talking about. GBAC stands for the Global Biorisk Advisory Council™. It is a division of the global cleaning organization ISSA. Above all, they exist to help both businesses and organizations. In their words, “prepare for, respond to, and recover from biological threats, and biohazard situations and real-time crises.” GBAC offers everything from training, education, and certification. It also offers response management and crisis counseling. Moreover, they help business owners and cleaning professionals deal with a range of issues. Those include infectious disease outbreaks like COVID, but also other biohazards like:
- Unattended deaths on your premises
- Crime and trauma scenes
- Bio-terrorism and other mass casualty situations
- Unsanitary conditions like hoarding
What kinds of businesses and organizations do they work with?
- Law enforcement and first responders
- Medical examiners
- Medical and veterinary clinics and offices
- Corporate offices
- Health and fitness clubs
- Schools and Academic Institutions
- Building service contractors
- Residential cleaners
- Transportation terminals like airports and train stations
- Public venues like stadiums, convention centers, churches, etc.
Why should this matter to you?
If your business or organization fits into the list above, or even if it doesn’t, you can obtain a GBAC STAR™ Accreditation. While there are other cleaning certifications available, I consider GBAC’s the gold standard, because it covers everything including the kitchen sink. In fact, the GBAC STAR program contains a whopping 20 individual elements. All elements together form what amounts to a germ-busting shield around your business.
GBAC’s 20 Elements are broken into groups based on what phase of the process you’re in.
The first Elements are about laying the groundwork.
1. Organizational roles, responsibilities, and authorities. Who’s doing what, and who’s in charge? In other words, who can you depend on to take the lead on the initiative and gather support for its implementation?
2. Facility commitment statement. This should put your objectives in writing, be signed by your senior leadership team, and be communicated to all the stakeholders.
3. Sustainability and continuous improvement. It’s important to make sure your processes are not only sustainable but that they continuously improve. Thus, you’re ready to face future hazards.
4. Conformity and compliance. Identify whatever cleaning-related local, state, and national regulatory requirements you will need to meet.
After that, the next four Elements are about setting goals and coming up with strategies to achieve them. They are:
5. Goals, objectives, and targets. Use any existing feedback, audits, or assessments to establish your objectives and goals.
6. Program controls and monitoring. Figure out how you’re going to measure your progress, set up those control measures, and document procedures for monitoring them.
7. Risk assessment and risk mitigation strategies. Begin a pattern of regular, periodic risk assessments. When risks are identified, make sure that whatever control measures you put in place are enough to effectively get rid of or at least mitigate the risk.
8. Standard operating procedures. You should establish and document SOPs for all of your cleaning-related work practices.
The next Elements are all about making sure you have what you need to keep germs out of your facility.
Remember, there are always new technologies and tools available, as well as new threats to deal with. Therefore, review what you’re using periodically to make sure it’s the best option. These Elements are:
9. Tools and equipment. Which I hope is self-explanatory!
10. Cleaning and disinfection chemicals. Make sure these are appropriate for your area and what you’re cleaning and what threat you want to mitigate.
11. Inventory control and management. Review your plans so you don’t run out of anything, including and especially…
12. Personal protective equipment (PPE). Again, self-explanatory.
13. Waste management. Have a plan in advance for how you will dispose of cleaning waste.
Next, the following elements are about getting your people and facility ready. They include:
14. Personnel training and competency. Your cleaning team should be competent and properly trained to do what they need to do. In other words, the right experience, education, and certifications as well as ongoing training.
15. Emergency preparedness and response. Make sure everyone knows what to do in an emergency situation.
16. Facility infection disease prevention policies. Put programs in place to keep your employees, customers, guests, etc. safe in your facility.
17. Worker health program. Manage risks to your employees’ physical and mental health, including cleaners who may be exposed to infectious materials.
Lastly, once everything is up and running, the final Elements are about keeping your safety protocols strong and evolving with changing times and threats. They are:
18. Audits and inspections. Periodically check to make sure your programs are working and all requirements are being met.
19. Control of suppliers. Establish criteria so you can constantly evaluate your suppliers and the products they use. Most importantly, whether they meet your facility’s requirements, and make changes when you need to.
20. Documentation management. Write everything down! Document every step in your process and make said documentation available where needed and protected where required.
That’s all 20, and yes, it was a lot. However, I promise you, it’s worth it. Consequently, by putting in the work before something happens, you’re protecting your business and your people from serious harm. It is kind of what I hope will come out of this whole COVID catastrophe and the struggles we’ve all been through over the past almost two years.
To sum it up, now that everyone is finally paying attention to infection prevention, things can get a whole lot better. As a result, our workplaces can be safer places for our employees, our customers, and ourselves.
For more simple solutions for surviving a germ-filled world, get a copy of my book, Germinator!