Alachua County Successfully Launches Cleaning IS Essential Campaign

Categories: Cleaning for Health, Member Profiles

By Charlie Jackson | October 15, 2020 << Back to Articles

During this pandemic era, the Alachua County Facilities Department in Gainesville, Fla., like many other building maintenance organizations across the nation, moved quickly to provide essential workers with the necessary training to sanitize, disinfect, and sterilize public buildings. We launched this campaign as an effort to break the COVID-19 chain. The Facilities Department needed to get employees trained in this area so they would know how to properly clean during this pandemic period, while also returning home safe.

Since the start of the outbreak, the county facilities department (as essential workers) has not missed a beat. Back in March of this year our department, like other property management organizations, was at a loss on how to properly respond to COVID-19 related concerns and incidents. Since that time, we have implemented enhanced cleaning in high traffic areas; to include sanitizing of main entrances to buildings, hallways, restrooms, breakrooms, tables, counter tops, and other high-touch hard surfaces in Alachua County buildings. Our No. 1 goal is to continue providing this enhanced cleaning as a means of keeping the county buildings as safe as possible. To that end, Alachua Facilities Department reached out to ISSA’s Cleaning Management Institute (CMI) and requested information on sanitizing and disinfecting techniques used by the other organizations in the cleaning industry. Challenges responding to the virus ranged from where to find disinfection equipment whit materials and supplies in scarce supply to properly training employees how to clean in such a way as to break the virus chain.

Ultimately, reassuring employees and citizens that county buildings are being cleaned and maintained in a safe manner is our desired outcome. In searching to source the much-needed materials, we were successful in reaching into the supply-chain market and working with suppliers to ship supplies directly from factories and distribution points to the County; in bottles, boxed packages, bubble wrapped counter shields, even receiving bulk sanitizing chemical supplies shipped in 55-gallon drums. Once the supplies were en-route, the department recognized another significant challenge, and that was getting essential cleaning employees trained. We reached out to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ISSA for assistance. Both entities responded immediately and recommended the department participate in the Kimberly-Clark Scholarship Program and the GBAC Fundamentals Online Course: Cleaning & Disinfection Principles.

The Kimberly-Clark Scholarship program provides COVID-19 training to organizations, not to exceed five employees at no cost. The completion of training in this program provided each employee with a Certificate of Completion. The course trained our cleaning professionals to prepare for, respond to and recover from biohazard in the workplace. In this course, county employees learned about infection and contamination control measures for infectious disease outbreak situations such as the novel coronavirus (SAR-CoV-2). Employees successfully completing this course within 30 days received a Certificate of Completion from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC), a division of ISSA. Upon the completion of this course our employees were able to use the term “GBAC – Trained Technician” to distinguish themselves in their workplace.

By receiving this training, our county employees demonstrated they have been properly trained to GBAC standards and have the planning, knowledge, and processes needed to respond to a biohazard crisis. In doing so, our facilities staff now are trained in the following areas:

  • Preventative, response, infection control, and contamination control measures to known or potential infectious disease outbreak situations. This section includes emphasis on the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).
  • Importance of proper cleaning and disinfection for health
  • GBAC protocol for response and remediation
  • Use of personal protective equipment (PPE), tools, and equipment
  • Cleaners and disinfectants based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Emerging Viral Pathogens Guidance.
  • How international professionals can find information specific to their own countries.

“In my experience from the GBAC online training, I learned that the more you read, the more things you will know. I also learned how to perform the GBAC Response Protocol Decision Steps,” said Tanya McGruder, senior custodial worker for Alachua County Facilities Department.

Although our department has a goal to get all employees trained in this area, currently the first wave consisting of 10 employees have completed the training as we are gearing up to get another wave trained. Now that training is well underway and supplies are reaching our warehouse, the department will begin filling requests throughout the county by installing counter shields in offices, deliver hand sanitizing products to each department, as well as the installation of refillable stand-up hand sanitizers in high traffic areas throughout Alachua County buildings.

For more on Alachua County Facilities Department, tune in below to an interview a few of the staff members did with Straight Talk.

About the Author.

Charlie Jackson is the facilities management director for the Alachua County Facilities Department in Gainesville, Fla.