With covid-19 pandemic still ongoing all over the world and new variants emerging frequently, it is no doubt that reopening your business in the current stage has to be a critically thought-out decision. Although many regions have been given the green light for reopening, as a business owner, there are several factors to consider and guidelines to follow that will ensure that you reopen your business in a safe and responsible manner for both the staff and customers. In this article, we take a deep delve into how you can navigate these unprecedented times and reopen your business or workplace safely and confidently with covid-19 building optimization.
Have a workplace safety plan
As an employer it is your duty to ensure that your workers or employees as well as clients are in a safe environment that mitigates the spread of covid-19. You should have a covid-19 safety plan written as per requirement of all operating businesses. Make sure that the plan is easily accessible to all your employees and visitors. It is important that all the people related to your business are aware of the plan. Also do not forget to regularly change or update the plan as the pandemic is evolving daily.
Ensure covid-19 building optimization
To reduce risk of covid-19 transmission make sure your building is optimized to prevent the spread. For example, rearrange your employees’ workstations to ensure they are 6 feet apart. Create appropriate hand sanitizing stations, screening areas, install awareness signage and stickers in high traffic areas. If your business has visitors or customers, install plexi-glass screens. Make sure the building is well-stocked with hand sanitizers in appropriate places.
Inspect the HVAC system
Since covid-19 has been established as an airborne disease, air quality at your workplace is of paramount concern. Lack of ventilation, inefficient and dirt-clogged HVAC systems not only increase your utility bills but also increase risk of covid-19 transmission through poor air circulation. Before reopening, make sure your HVAC system is serviced, cleaned, and disinfected to mitigate the risk of covid-19 transmission. In addition, improve ventilation and airflow wherever possible as this helps in reducing covid-19 spread.
Invest in HVAC monitoring system
Simply maintaining and cleaning your HVAC system is not enough. With time the HVAC system loses its efficiency with build up of dirt and biofilms. To maintain indoor air quality and ensure a safe environment for your workers, you can try investing in HVAC monitoring app or CO2/T/H monitoring which will send you automated alerts when air quality is poor through sensors that detect CO2, temperature, and humidity levels in an area. This will not only help minimize the risk of covid-19 spread but also ensure overall health and productivity of your employees, thus benefiting you in a multitude of ways.
Sterilize the building
Covid-19 can be spread by surface touching, so it is imperative that you make sure the premises are disinfected to eliminate the risk before reopening your facility or workplace. Whether you have a retail store, an office space or a large industrial area, make sure every square footage of your premises is disinfected. There are several disinfecting methods available that can kill germs even upto 99.9999% and are very fast and efficient. Make sure you hire a professional disinfection service provider that can do the job thoroughly for covid-19 building optimization.
Inspect facility operations
If your building has been unoccupied for a long period of time, before reopening you must ensure that the building systems are running smoothly. For example, perform security and fire alarm checks. Ensure all the tools and equipment are functional and check for signs of structural damage or pest infestation and take necessary steps to fix the issue.
Regular cleaning and disinfecting
Apart from sterilizing the building before reopening, to ensure covid-19 building optimization, you also need to have a regular cleaning and disinfecting schedule in place. This should be done for all high traffic areas including entrance, washroom, kitchen, common space as well as high contact surfaces such as desks, doorknobs, workstations and so on. Use hard surface furniture that are easy to clean. Make sure there is adequate supply of cleaners and disinfectants in your building and maintain a log of cleaning and disinfecting schedule.
Have a schedule in place for employees returning to work
Make sure all your employees’ and suppliers’ contact information are updated. Make a list of employees that must return to work immediately and those who can continue working from home. Remember elderly, immune compromised, and chronic illness suffering patients are vulnerable to covid-19. Also, use a staggered return schedule to avoid a large number of employees returning at once.
Determine your building capacity and schedule number of employees at work accordingly to avoid crowded gatherings as prolonged exposure in enclosed and congested spaces can raise the risk of transmission. Have an assigned personnel or HR team that can smoothly handle the transition of employees’ return to the workplace.
Raise covid-19 awareness in the workplace
The first step for any prevention tactic is to raise awareness of the issue. Communicate the risks associated with covid-19 to your employees such as how it is transmitted, steps to prevent it, its symptoms, what to do if someone has been infected with covid-19 and so on. For example, educate your employees to maintain personal hygiene and safety procedures such as avoidance of touching nose, eyes and mouth, covering nose with an elbow while sneezing, regular hand washing with sanitizers, avoiding large gatherings in small, crowded places like the kitchen, not sharing personal belongings and so on. Your employees should also know when to self-isolate if someone has covid-19 symptoms. You can read more on what to do if someone in your building has been infected with covid-19 here. Additionally, if you reside in Canada, here are additional resources on workplace safety during covid-19.
Take control measures to minimize the risk
Prevention is better than cure. As an employer it is your responsibility to take the maximum precautions for the safety of your employee as well as customers. Apart from covid-19 building optimization, make sure that your staff follow appropriate measures to reduce the spread of covid-19. For example, if physical distancing is not possible, have staff and visitors in the building premises wear face masks.
With the above guidelines along with your region’s public health guidelines, you can reopen your business safely while ensuring safety of your workers and customers. A-TECH Engineering Ltd, a leading building automation system and controls provider in Toronto, provides a number of solutions such as sterilization packages via partners, HVAC system disinfection, indoor air quality monitoring and more. Connect with an A-TECH specialist to find out how we can optimize your building for covid-19 and help you reopen safely and confidently.