Dan Bracey, CSP, CHMM

 

The global pandemic forced commercial buildings throughout the world to close. We have all felt the impact of these closures for over half of the year. Now that we have begun to reopen and buildings have become occupied with employees and customers, there are health and safety measures that must be implemented to mitigate potential risks in your facility. A full facility and operation assessment can determine where preventative measures could be taken reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Partner Engineering and Science, Inc.’s Dan Bracey, CSP, CHMM, shared what an assessment could look like for a commercial building and some of the measures that may be put into place at your facility.

The first step is to have a trained safety professional conduct an assessment of your office, retail, or commercial facility. Commonly targeted inspection areas could include:

  • Employee entrances for existing controls
  • Employee workstations and designated office areas
  • Breakout and conference rooms
  • Restrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Hallways
  • Stairwells/elevators
  • Printer areas
  • Supply closets

In addition to the physical areas of your facility, policies and procedures will be evaluated to ensure that sufficient precautions are being taken. Some of these procedures may include:

  • Visitors
  • Mail and package delivery procedures
  • Janitorial services/cleaning protocols
  • Eating in the office
  • Employee travel
  • HVAC systems

Now that your facility and procedures have been reviewed and rated on a scale from a low to high relative transmission risk, proposed control measures and recommendations can be made for your specific building or work area. These include:

  • Personnel Management Devices – such as autonomous temperature readings or installing a thermal camera system to screen employee and visitor temperatures.
  • Personnel Policy Implementation – such as a daily temperature check upon entry to the building (if greater than 100.4 degrees, alert leader and go home); wearing of face coverings with exception of workstations when a minimum of 6 feet is maintained from other employees; limiting the number of employees in common areas such as restrooms, kitchens, and printer areas.
  • Increasing Hygiene Protocols – such as providing hand sanitizer stations and replacing paper towel dispensers, garbage cans, and faucets with touchless upgrades.
  • COVID-19 Awareness Training – for employees returning to the office and posting of signage provided by OSHA, the CDC, or other regulatory agencies to support COVID-19 services.
  • Social Distancing Precautions – such as removing excess conference room chairs to retain social distance; installing directional markers for one directional foot traffic in hallways and stairwells; and spacing employee workstations by 6-foot increments.

There are a variety of strategies that a facility owner or manager can implement to help manage the risk of transmission within their office or establishment. It is of the utmost importance to make sure that you engage a qualified and licensed Certified Safety Professional (CSP) to perform the assessment and make recommendations for your building or office space.