Dan Bracey, CSP, CHMM
The global pandemic forced commercial buildings around the world to close. We have all felt the effects of these closings for over half a year. After we begin reopening and the buildings are manned with staff and customers, health and safety measures need to be implemented to minimize potential risks in your facility. A full facility and operational assessment can determine where preventative measures could be taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Dan Bracey, CSP, CHMM from Partner Engineering and Science, Inc., explained what a commercial property assessment might look like and what actions your facility might take.
The first step is to have a trained security professional conduct an assessment of your office, retail, or commercial facility. Frequently targeted inspection areas could include:
- Employee entrances for existing controls
- Employee workplaces and designated office areas
- Breakout and conference rooms
- Stairwells / elevators
- Printer areas
- Supply cabinets
In addition to the physical areas of your facility, policies and procedures are assessed to ensure that adequate precautions are taken. Some of these procedures can include:
- Procedure for delivering mail and parcels
- Janitorial services / cleaning protocols
- Eating in the office
- Employee trips
- HVAC systems
After your facility and procedures have been reviewed and rated on a scale from low to high relative risk of transmission, suggested control measures and recommendations can be made for your specific building or work area. These include:
- Human resource management devices – such as autonomous temperature measurements or the installation of a thermal imaging camera system to monitor employee and visitor temperatures.
- Implementation of the personnel policy – like a daily temperature control when entering the building (if more than 100.4 degrees, alarm leader and go home); Wearing face coverings other than workplaces when they are at least 6 feet away from other employees; Limiting the number of employees in public areas such as toilets, kitchens, and printer areas.
- Increase in hygiene protocols – such as providing hand disinfection stations and replacing paper towel dispensers, trash cans and taps with touchless upgrades.
- COVID-19 awareness training – For employees returning to the office posting signs from OSHA, CDC, or other regulatory agencies in support of COVID-19 services.
- Social Distancing Precautions – How to remove excess conference room chairs to maintain social distance; Installation of directional markings for directed foot traffic in hallways and stairwells; and distance between employee workstations in 6 foot increments.
There are a variety of strategies a facility owner or manager can implement to control transmission risk in their office or facility. It is extremely important to ensure that you hire a qualified and licensed Certified Safety Professional (CSP) to conduct the assessment and make recommendations for your building or office space.