Saving Lives

Categories: Cleaning Applications, Cleaning for Health, EMEA, ISSA

By Jeff Cross | June 1, 2020 << Back to Articles Saving Lives

Wherever you go, you are affected by what surrounds you, what you walk on, what you touch, and by the air you breathe—everywhere.

Whether those are positive or negative experiences often depends on one important activity that affects virtually every aspect of our lives—cleaning.

You know what I’m talking about. If you need a reminder, just visit a public restroom that hasn’t been properly cleaned and maintained. Think of the last time you put your hand under the automatic hand soap dispenser that spat out air and you had to find another one that worked. Or how you shuddered when you looked at the toilet and felt like you needed a supply of disinfectant to even get close to it.

Members of ISSA understand the value of cleaning and the impact it has on the health of those who use your buildings.

You, no doubt, embrace how your work can protect health and even save lives because you fight against germs, bacteria, contaminants, and anything that should not be on the surfaces in your care.

But that’s not the case in the cleaning industry outside the realm of ISSA. Of course, there are exceptions, but when you come across a poorly maintained building, more often than not, the cleaning crew is not trained or certified, and is perhaps underpaid and in a hurry to get the work done quickly. That’s not the ISSA way.

ISSA is here for many reasons: To help you keep up with innovation, educate you through training, keep you up on trends in the industry, give tips and advice on how to better manage your company or facility, provide benefits to your employees, advocate on your behalf to the government, encourage giving through a stellar charities program, and much more. We have a huge laundry list of benefits for ISSA members.

It gets better all the time. Things have changed drastically over the years for ISSA, from the inception of ISSA with just seven member companies to now close to 10,000, from the first trade show featuring 13 exhibitors to now 700 exhibitors with some 16,000+ cleaning professionals in attendance.

But probably the most important global impact is that we partner with you to save lives through cleaning. It’s at the heart of our tagline: Advancing Clean. Driving Innovation. We are changing the way the world views cleaning. As a professional, you know what I mean. Clean buildings mean fewer contaminants and less exposure to what makes us sick. You are on the front line of ensuring public health is protected.

In this article, you will see what key departments and divisions within ISSA are doing for you as a valued member company. Use this information to better understand what you do, how important you are, and how valuable the services you provide are to everyone around you, whether you are a cleaning professional, a distributor, or a manufacturer.

The Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC)

This division of ISSA represents all—from top management to front-line cleaning professionals—who battle all types of contamination and infectious disease issues.

The GBAC mission is to bring the scientific, decontamination, cleaning, and restoration communities together, to prepare from, respond to, and recover from biological threats and dangers in an increasingly integrated world.

The coronavirus-spawned COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect—although unwanted—example of this. GBAC responded with how-to advice, industry guidance, webinars, programs, and probably of most impact to the global cleaning industry, an online course called the GBAC Fundamentals Online Course: Cleaning & Disinfection Principles. You can access it all at

Those who have taken advantage of the training are utilizing their acquired knowledge from the two-to-three-hour program to go to work, cleaning and using disinfection protocols in homes and buildings. Their mission? To stop the advancement of the coronavirus.

The GBAC Fundamentals Online Course: Cleaning & Disinfection Principles  will be crucial for all buildings and facilities, small and large, from offices to stadiums, government buildings to hospitals. It’s being used right now and will be used moving forward, even after this pandemic is over.

“This course teaches cleaning professionals what they need to prepare for, respond to, and recover from biohazards in the workplace, giving them tools they need to do the job right,” according to Patricia Olinger, the executive director of GBAC. As she and the directors of GBAC instruct in all their workshops and seminars, it is crucial for the cleaning industry to learn infection and contamination control measures for infectious disease outbreak situations, such as the coronavirus.

“It’s what you can’t see that can make you sick or kill you,” Olinger added. “Infectious agents are things we cannot see. But we know they are there, and we know that cleaning professionals, decontamination professionals, EVS staff, and forensic operators, plus other front-line workers in our industry will be at the frontline when it comes to prevention and response. GBAC helps them all take their skills to the next level with our training programs and protocols. This includes how we protect our professionals as well.”

The GBAC STAR impact

Another program that will affect the global cleaning industry and help save lives is GBAC STAR™, a facility accreditation program on cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention. The performance-based GBAC STAR program will assist with a suite of 20 elements to help facilities in developing the competencies, procedures, and tools to achieve accreditation.

GBAC STAR accreditation empowers facility owners and managers to instill customer confidence by demonstrating they have proven systems in place to deliver clean and healthy environments.

As Olinger said, “We need to clean and disinfect as if life depends on it… because it does!” GBAC STAR is the premier program to ensure all of what’s important with cleaning, disinfecting, and safety is handled effectively and professionally.

Information on GBAC STAR accreditation can be found here.

Cleaning Management Institute

Brant Insero is the director of education, certification, and standards with ISSA, and he heads up Cleaning Management Institute (CMI). He takes point on the three primary missions for a highly trained and skilled cleaning team, which is crucial to protecting health and saving lives.

“One is rather obvious,” Insero said. “It is to make a facility look and smell clean, which has positive effects on the bottom-line of a business. In fact, floor appearance has been found to be the number one influencer in a person’s perception of clean. Also, restroom cleanliness has been found to be the major factor in a person’s decision to where they spend their hard-earned money. In 2019, Bradley Corp. stated that 64% of people will choose to spend their money in a business with a well-maintained restroom. Think about your decision of where to stop during your last trip to the mall. You probably looked for the best option compared to the first option.”

The second mission is to preserve a facility’s assets such as floors, carpet, furniture, fixtures, and more. “These assets can represent thousands or millions of dollars in value,” Insero said. “Skillful care of floors and carpet can greatly increase their usable life, lowering their overall cost of ownership. Improper care or neglect can drastically shorten their usable life by creating repair or replacement costs prematurely, greatly increasing their cost of ownership.”

Then we come to the third mission, the most important by far. “This revolves around assuring the health and safety of the building’s occupants and visitors,” Insero stressed. “Absenteeism due to illness has an extremely high cost to companies and organizations in the form of lower or lost production, as well as an extremely high personal cost to the individual dealing with the illness or disease. Reports now estimate that companies spend more than $530 billion on lost productivity time.”

To handle all three missions, Insero’s team that works with CMI provides training and certification to the global cleaning industry in multiple platforms and specialties, from custodial training to advanced cleaning management and more.

The future of CMI

CMI will continue to develop both tactical and strategic training and certification programs. These programs will enhance a person’s opportunity to attain personal career growth. “It will allow them to pursue career educational pathways that encompass core-level competencies and will lead to expert-level mastery of cleaning and disinfection,” Insero said. “It is our mission to ‘Educate, Certify, and Empower’ the past, present, and future members of ISSA.”

When it comes to saving lives, CMI has the vision of creating a cleaner and safer world by spreading the knowledge of the art and science of cleaning and embracing the ISSA mission of changing the way the world views cleaning.

For educational opportunities and resources from CMI, visit

The value of CIMS certification

CIMS is the Cleaning Industry Management Standard. CIMS has worked with hundreds of cleaning service providers globally. Each service provider that has successfully achieved any of the four CIMS designations has been proven to maintain a healthy and safe environment for its stakeholders. 

“Within CIMS, an organization must comply with section four of the standard, which is ‘Health, Safety, and Environmental Stewardship,’” Insero explained. “Along with section four, CIMS has done an excellent job with requirements around employee training and emergency response plans.”

CIMS provides an effective framework for cleaning operators to run their businesses and is a perfect complement to programs such as CMI certifications and the new GBAC STAR accreditation program.

The program has an additional element referred to as CIMS GB (Green Building) and has the requirements that meet the cleaning products and procedures for a LEED O+M (Operations and Management) registered building. Governments have taken many steps to promote these types of sustainable practices, as it is believed that environmental conditions may change or even threaten health.

“It would be believed, that in order to deliver healthy services to our public spaces, one would have to be running a healthy business,” according to Charlie Janowicz, the CIMS account executive. “This can only be accomplished managing and training all the professionals in the industry to understand how important they are to everyone in a world that has shown us how unpredictable it is and how fragile we are as its inhabitants.”

For more information, visit or contact Janowicz at [email protected].

The IEHA edge: Health

IEHA is a 1300-member division of ISSA that provides career-building credentialing to leaders of indoor environmental services in both the health care and hospitality fields.

IEHA provides education, certification, and upward mobility for its members through partnerships with The W. Edwards Deming Institute, UNLV, Duke Medical, Kaiser Permanente, and some of the most progressive health care and hotel operations in the world.

“From our Learning Boot Camps, to our upcoming 2020 54th Conference and Convention in Chicago, to Deming-led quality and virtual learning events, to our extensive leadership and management curriculum, we help our members become successful in protecting health while solidly advancing their careers,” said Michael Patterson, MNA, MESRE, and the executive director and past-president of IEHA.

Cleaning & Maintenance Management magazine, an ISSA media brand, is the official publication of IEHA. Each issue provides health-relevant, actionable information specific to environmental services professionals in health care, hotels, government, and other sectors, brought to you by IEHA leadership.

For more information on IEHA, visit

Government affairs and cleaning

Along with GBAC and CMI, the ISSA government affairs department is taking a high-level approach to promote clean to the global cleaning industry.

“Our government affairs department is regularly meeting with and educating elected officials, regulators, and nongovernmental groups involved in the policy-making process about the public health and environmental benefits that flow directly from effective cleaning regimens,” according to John Nothdurft, the director of government affairs of ISSA. The goal of his department is to put a face and story to the positive impact that cleaning has on every aspect of our lives, and how that intersects with key public policy decisions regarding chemicals, government procurement policies, health care, tariffs, and more.

The four general areas Nothdurft sees having the most impact on the cleaning industry include labor policies, chemical regulations, trade and tariffs, and sustainability-related issues. These are the four areas ISSA is most engaged in on behalf of its members. “While at the federal level there is not likely to be much movement until after the 2020 elections, there is quite a bit of action at the state and local government levels that will impact manufacturers and distributors as well as cleaning service providers.”

Of concern to distributors and manufacturers are issues such as ingredient disclosure, recycling measures, the prohibition of single-use packaging, and chemical regulations. For cleaning service providers, Nothdurft expects to see legislation on minimum wage laws, registration requirements, harassment training, and defining independent contractors.

Moreover, at the time this issue of ISSA Today goes to press, Nothdurft’s team is heavily involved in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the coronavirus. All of those resources for companies struggling with multiple business issues are updated in real-time on the website.

But for the long-term, “Our mission is to create a legislative and regulatory environment that allows the worldwide cleaning industry to thrive,” Nothdurft said. As part of those efforts, ISSA’s long-term goals are to educate and train an army full of “cleaning advocates” that can be mobilized when key issues come before legislatures. “This mobilized force combined with our lobbying efforts will increase the profile and influence of the cleaning industry on important regulatory and policy issues,” he added.

For more information on resources and information from the government affairs department, visit

Saving lives: What will you do?

As a member of ISSA, you will be provided everything you need to handle any challenge that comes your way. Take a look at Investigate and check out the lifesaving opportunities available to you.

You owe it to yourself and to those you serve and protect.

About the Author.

Jeff Cross is the ISSA Media Director. He can be reached at [email protected].