A commercial cleaning contract with a hospital can be a reliable, well-paid job. But have the rules changed? Do you need COVID cleaning certification now?

Of all the changes COVID brought to the world, the commercial cleaning industry saw some of the first, along with the medical field, of course. As the world shut down, cleaning services were in high demand to rid schools, offices, and shopping centers of this scourge. Since then, we’ve learned a lot, but the healthcare and janitorial industries remain at the forefront of combatting this and future similar viruses. However, that brings up the question of whether or not you need COVID cleaning certification to partner with medical facilities and hospitals. 

The answer, unfortunately, isn’t that simple. While there are requirements for running a commercial cleaning business, there is no specific regulating body for the cleaning industry. This isn’t to say there aren’t regulations you need to follow. We’ll get into that below. But as far as COVID cleaning certification goes, there are some things you need to know.

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Covid Cleaning Certification

The truth about COVID cleaning certification and the janitorial industry

To be very clear, we are all for as much continuing education as possible in the commercial cleaning industry. We also believe in following any local ordinances that govern your cleaning business. But the issue of COVID cleaning certification is complicated, especially as it relates to working in hospitals. 

For one thing, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “does not license companies that provide cleaning services.” Neither they nor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer a COVID cleaning certification. Meanwhile, the EPA does issue a prescribed set of cleaners appropriate for COVID cleaning, and the CDC has issued numerous guidelines on cleaning hospitals and medical offices. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) does offer a “Standard precautions: Environmental cleaning and disinfection” certification through a one-hour online class. The class covers the differences between routine and terminal cleaning, as well as the differences between cleaning agents and disinfectants in relation to healthcare settings. 

Beyond that, it’s unlikely that you’ll find COVID cleaning certification as a requirement in any listings for hospital janitorial work.

So the short answer is: No, you do not need a COVID cleaning certification to work in hospitals. That’s not the full answer, though. 

Even though you may not need a COVID cleaning certification, you might still want one. Why? 

From a contractual standpoint, hospitals want top-notch cleaning services. Hospitals are a hotbed of infectious viruses and bacteria. There are tons of academic studies dedicated to hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) and superbugs like MRSA. The most recent data from the CDC link 72,000 patient deaths to HAIs. And that’s without COVID in the picture. https://www.cdc.gov/hai/data/portal/index.html

In most cases, you’ll be competing for these hospital jobs against commercial cleaning companies that purport to have COVID cleaning certification. Given the prevalence of HAIs, you can understand why hospitals might prefer a company with certification. 

There’s also the fact that you want to keep your team and your clients safe. If you’re working in hospitals, you need as much information as possible about infectious diseases, how infections spread, and how to neutralize these infections. That alone is reason enough to take the time to learn about COVID-19 and how your cleaning company can help prevent the spread.

You still need certifications.

State and local requirements aside, we should point out that there are still certifications you and your team need if you plan to bid on jobs in medical facilities. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that anyone handling “medical waste or infectious materials” is trained in OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens standard. They go on to point out that anyone cleaning up other hazardous substances needs training in the Hazard Communication Standard. 

OSHA offers certification through their OSHA Training Institute Education Centers, which are “a national network of non-profit organizations authorized by OSHA to deliver occupational safety and health training for all levels of workers.” Among the many courses, you’ll find “Pandemic Illness Preparedness.” 

Another example comes from the Columbus, Georgia Board of Health. Though they aren’t certifications, necessarily, they do require complete criminal background checks of all employees, “including fingerprinting.” They also require their commercial cleaning contractors to carry a $1,000,000 liability insurance policy. 

What to look for in a COVID cleaning certification course

Here’s where things get especially tricky. Because there are few regulating bodies, there’s no guarantee that a COVID cleaning certification will actually teach you anything helpful. 

If you’ve done any continuing education, you know the quality can be inconsistent. Look around, and you can even find some self-certified cleaning operations where they’ve “certified” all their employees on COVID cleaning. Of course, these could be perfectly legitimate and even highly scientific training. 

But if you want something you can display proudly on your hospital cleaning proposal, your best bet is to stick with an organization that’s already well-known and respected. One that offers courses specifically for COVID-19 cleaning is the Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI).

The BSCAI course is “designed expressly for front-line cleaners,” and includes the CDC, EPA, and OSHA guidelines. This peer-reviewed course covers worksite safety, infection control, practical “disinfecting procedures for COVID-19,” and documentation of the process. 

If you’re a member, the course is very reasonably priced. There is no guarantee that taking the course can get your commercial cleaning business a contract with a hospital or medical facility, but again, we’re big proponents of ongoing education. And especially now with the hindsight of how quickly the world can change. 

Again, even if you don’t need COVID cleaning certification to work in a hospital or healthcare setting, it can’t hurt as long as you get your certification from a reliable organization.

Make sure your cleaning team has the information they need to complete their job accurately and thoroughly. Using a janitorial software like Janitorial Manager can effectively transform your cleaning operation!