Last week I participated in the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) Microbial Warrior™ Workshop. Given its focus on infectious disease outbreaks, and associated infection and contamination control measures, it is highly relevant to the situation we find ourselves in, with COVID-19. Not only did I walk away with a wealth of valuable information (which I will share below), I gained two certifications – one in GBAC Fundamentals and the other in Covid-19 and Disinfection Defense.

Overall, the Microbial Warrior Workshop offered a high-level overview of the challenges we are facing with COVID-19, in the context of the places that we live and work on a daily basis. Taking a two-pronged approach, expert presenters explained what is known about the disease, its transmission, and the implications it has for cleaning and maintaining healthy environments.

As our regular readers know, MB&A has an extensive customer base in hospital-associated infection prevention and facility inspectors. This course helped me to better understand how we can help our customers in both spaces, just as it reinforced my belief that “cleaning is an investment in human health, the environment, and an improved bottom line,” as per the International Sanitary Supply Association.

In the coming months, many organizations will need to focus on creating healthy and sanitary environments to reopen and stay in business. Not surprisingly, we have seen an uptick in customers wanting to use our software to support the planning, execution, and auditing of how well their spaces are cleaned – particularly areas where they service customers and their staff work. For reasons not limited to these, I would highly recommend this workshop to any executive whose responsibilities include ensuring that their business space is as safe (and as clean) as it can be.

Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) Detailed Response Protocol

The approach outlined in the Microbial Warrior workshop is valuable for planning cleaning for health and executing against it while ensuring these business processes are completed in compliance with the same high standards that our ExAM4Inspections app was developed to support. Specifically, the GBAC approach starts with a site assessment and then offers suggestions on how an organization should prioritize their cleaning efforts, the equipment required, and an outline of the procedures that can support the effort. This is part of a larger process that includes:

  1. Incident Site Risk Assessment, Quality Control this benchmarking information is required going into any cleaning scenario
  2. Pre-Disinfect – as needed, a pre-disinfection step helps to reduce infectious contamination prior to entering a site
  3. Load Reduction – involves the removal and disposal of biological material contamination
  4. Forensic Cleaning – helps to prepare surfaces for both vertical and horizontal professional disinfection by removing biological contaminants
  5. Final Disinfection – this refers to the actual disinfection process
  6. Post-Site Assessment, Quality Control – this involves a comprehensive post-inspection and documentation process

While this is already a thorough step-by-step process, I recommend pairing it with the Sanitary Defense Conditions (SDC) framework. I say this because it will enable organizations to adjust their approach – including the frequency of cleaning and level of engagement – to match their environment and needs. For ease of reference, the SDC is a 3-level framework that consists of the following:

  • Level 1
    • No contagious threat
    • Clean, evaluate to site and smell
    • Follow standard operating procedures
  • Level 2
    • Highly contagious pathogen in the community
    • Ramp up sanitation and cleaning
  • Level 3
    • Highly contagious pathogen in the facility
    • Implement high-level disinfectants and specialty equipment

I value this flexible approach in the context of COVID-19, because it will enable organizations to allocate their resources to the level of the threat they face. Granted, we are currently all living at a minimum of a level 2. This means that many business executives are thinking about how to improve their processes and map their efforts to the threat model. In this regard, the workshop highlighted the new technologies that can be used for disinfection, key areas of concern – such as high touch surfaces and hard to reach areas – and left participants with a general approach they can take to address the challenges we face.

New Cleaning Technologies

Excellent coverage of advanced cleaning systems included the use of UV light, hypochlorous acid, and electrostatic spray systems. To those who work in hospital settings, UV light-based systems are already well-known for their effectiveness against viruses, but they can also be used to disinfect in occupied rooms. Hypochlorous acid is being touted as effective against COVID-19 because it dissipates quickly, is residue-free, and is safe and non-toxic. Electrostatic spray systems can penetrate hard-to-reach spaces by producing “a fine mist that wraps around all surfaces and coats [them] in a way that human hands simply can’t touch.”[1] This makes it easier to penetrate the backsides of doorknobs and crevices.

Bringing it Together

Above all, the course advises attendees to define their standard operating procedures and to automate compliance. Fortunately, ExAM4Inspections provides exactly this type of execution support. As we have seen in our medical use cases, standard operating procedures are easier to follow if they are known and are built into checklists and procedural prompts. Our ExAM4Inspections platform enables customers to develop their procedures and easily roll them into our app, so that they are at their cleaning staff’s fingertips. These can then serve as the checklists workers use throughout a facility.

Because of ExAM’s purpose-built design (Extensible Assessment Manager), it can also collect data on site risk assessments, employee health checks, and post-cleaning audits and assessments. Further, ExAM4Inspections can help support the kind of federated analysis and management tools needed to introduce activities within large and complex organizations, including correlating cleaning practices with outcomes and prioritizing resources in order to drive impact. In practice, this will enable you to easily roll this information up at different organizational levels, so that people can make informed decisions to foster health and safety across your organization.