Bhawani Bhargava, Director of Housekeeping, Park Hyatt Dubai
Park Hyatt Dubai has announced its commitment to achieve Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC) STAR™ accreditation, the gold standard for prepared facilities. Under the guidance of GBAC, a Division of ISSA, the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association, Park Hyatt Dubai will implement the most stringent protocols for cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention in its facilities.
As the cleaning industry’s only outbreak prevention, response and recovery accreditation, GBAC STAR™, helps organizations establish protocols and procedures, offers expert-led training and assesses a facility’s readiness for biorisk situations. The program will verify that Park Hyatt Dubai implements best practices to prepare for, respond to and recover from outbreaks and pandemics.
Bhawani Bhargava, Director of Housekeeping, Park Hyatt Dubai, talks to Samiya Andrabi about the hotel’s commitment to this accreditation and its impact on the facility, amongst other relevant topics.
How important is cleaning and disinfection for you?
Cleaning and disinfection has always been an integral part of any business establishment. It is just that it has taken a center stage with the onset of COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Cleaning and disinfection is of paramount importance for not only hotels, but other establishments with commonly used public spaces. To achieve maximum benefits from the cleaning and disinfection, it has to be done with proper products and processes. It is essentially an ongoing process on part of the housekeeping staff.
What are the protocols you wish to follow to achieve optimum disinfection and infection control in your facilities?
First of all, sound knowledge of products, chemicals and their application methods is imperative. The cleaning staff must be acquainted with small details like surface contact time. For example, the chemical that we use in our property has to stay on the surface for two minutes to be of optimal use. The team understands that, and that is how we achieve optimum disinfection. I would also like to add that a good waste management system is important because we see a lot of PPE lying around and it has to be disposed in a correct manner because it is categorized as biohazard waste and should be disposed of to contain any infection risk.
What kind of training do you provide to your cleaning and support staff to combat viruses and bacteria?
Training is extremely vital. Team members need to understand the process in detail in order to execute the cleaning properly. We have very stringent training sessions with both internal and external trainers to conduct the training and check their understanding on the same. It is important that staff members are clear in what they have understood and they can communicate what they have understood, so we also emphasize on cross verifying.
Has there been any difference in how you’ve approached disinfection this year (as compared to the previous years)?
Yes definitely! Earlier, we had not introduced hospitalgrade cleaning disinfectants and methodologies, whereas this year, we have introduced these in our guest and public areas.
What do you aim to achieve from the GBAC STAR™ accreditation?
Our main aim is to attain a very strict cleaning protocol for infectious disease and we also aim to assure guests and stakeholders that our facility has been disinfected to the highest standards guided by GBAC - Global Biorisk Advisory Council.
What are the major challenges you are facing in achieving disinfection?
Whenever you go out and invite external parties to do a disinfection, it is quite expensive and understandably so because they have registered with the Dubai Municipality. Secondly, the tools and equipment required for disinfection takes longer to be delivered due to increase in demand from any supplier. These are the two challenges that we face at this point of time.
How do you overcome them?
Because external services are expensive, we have trained our in-house team with the same methodology, chemicals and equipment. They do the disinfection for guest rooms and public areas - restaurants, gyms, spa, poolbeds, lagoon beds, etc. Secondly, we have shortlisted suppliers who can supply equipment in less lead time, keeping the quality in mind, of course.
Which latest technologies are you using to achieve cleanliness and disinfection?
We are using UV black lights for spot inspections. If you have any protein stains, the room or area needs to be darkened and you will be able to see them using this technology. Secondly, we are using ULV fogging machines for sterilization. One interesting thing is that we are using airocide, an air purifier machine, which eliminates airborne allergens and bacteria in closed spaces such as restaurants. We have these small sized machines in the corners, which the guest may not even notice, but they are doing their job.
In the near future, we want to introduce UV light strips for public area washrooms. The idea is to fit the UV light strip under the mirror and it will be programmed to function on a motion detector. When the space is vacant, the UV light switches on and it will eliminate bacteria and viruses. When the guests come, it will automatically switch off.
What changes will you make to your cleaning regime to achieve the GBAC certification?
In totality, there are 20 elements in the GBAC certification to adhere to. So firstly, we have made changes to our standard operating procedures and trained the team for it. What we used to do before is not, to an extent, relevant this year. A lot of steps have been changed, and the team has been asked to be extra vigilant.
For instance, the attendants are taking many precautions before handling the soiled linen. They have been trained to not agitate the linen a lot to contain the dust, which may scatter when linen is stripped. They have also been trained not to keep the linen close to their bodies and quickly pass the soiled linen to soiled linen bags. Our linen is also being washed at a higher temperature than previous years.
Another example is room attendants having small soaps and hand sanitizers in their trolley. They remove their soiled gloves, and they wash their hands with soap and water and put on new gloves before they touch any linen. This has been very strictly implemented to achieve the GBAC certification.
GBAC also requires a rigorous documentation, so each area in the property has to have a daily checklist and the team understands why this has to be done. Then again, effective waste management is also emphasized by GBAC. We have yellow colored bins which are dedicated or biohazard waste. The used gloves and masks are disposed of there. We have a special contract with the company who dispose of it.
How has committing to the program changed your outlook towards cleaning & disinfection?
GBAC propels us in the right direction - towards cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention and most importantly crisis management. Commiting to the program has also made us more focussed, and we strive to work on the 20 elements diligently. It has also enabled us to demonstrate correct work practices, procedures and systems in place for us to prepare, respond and recover if need be. One thing we have learnt from GBAC is that it impounds our attendants to do their jobs safely and effectively in these uncertain times.
What are the top three tips you would like to give hotels going forward with regard to cleaning and disinfection?
1. Be prepared for emergencies. Nobody wants to be caught off-guard. Have good emergency preparedness documentation and all relevant parties need to be aware of what needs to be done.
2. We do not require every expensive technology or gadgets available in the market to keep our establishments clean and safe. It is just that correct products and procedures enhance the cleaning protocols.
3. Keeping an establishment clean is not just the housekeeping’s responsibility. It is everybody’s responsibility. Everyone has to do their part to keep the facility clean.