COVID-19 has suddenly put the facilities department under a microscope. In pre-COVID days, the facilities department was important, but remained relatively anonymous - only noticed when the AC wasn’t working. While we know that you’re the silent engine that keeps occupants safe, healthy, and comfortable, it wasn’t until now that the occupants looked to you for reassurance.
Is your in-house team ready for the responsibility of reducing the risk of an outbreak within your building?
How do you prepare your building for COVID-19?
As buildings re-open and life returns to normal, occupants are hesitant to return to public buildings.
They have a good reason, too. Public buildings are excellent pathways for transferring germs.
- Ducts can move viruses throughout a building with ease.
- Surfaces can host the COVID-19 virus for 48 hours.
- Proximity with others is inevitable with public hallways, bathrooms, cubicles, and shared space.
With all of these factors in play, how do in-house facility teams keep their occupants safe?
- Establish occupant rules that keep everyone safe.
- Develop and implement cleaning guidelines that remove germs from surfaces regularly.
- Create an outbreak plan that can be deployed at a moment’s notice.
“Prevention planning is essential when it comes to COVID-19,” said Michael Castillo, SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 certified site manager at Encompass. “If we can stop it before it comes into the building, we’ve done our job. We’ve kept people safe.”
What support does your in-house facility team need for COVID-19?
Facilities departments are more strained than ever before. While they were always time-strapped, managing multiple buildings and facility needs, COVID-19 has added far more to their workload.
- Cleaning and sanitation - With COVID-19, cleaning and sanitizing needs to happen often. The old way of cleaning won’t do the job. First, you need to clean using soap and water and then use an EPA-approved disinfectant to kill the virus. This process should happen multiple times a day to ensure a surface doesn’t recontaminate.
- Cleaning supplies - Does your team have access to the right cleaning supplies? Your building should have a stock of EPA-approved cleaning supplies for housekeeping as well as individual supplies for employees to self-sanitize their workstation and shared spaces.
- Office design - Space occupants at least 6 feet apart. Social distancing can be difficult in a cubicle or open-concept office environment. It may be necessary to add plexiglass between workspaces and implement a staggered schedule.
- Strategic partnerships - Consider a collaboration with an FM vendor to establish, manage, revise, and implement a proper cleaning and disinfection plan.
Is your team ready to deploy a COVID-19 outbreak plan fast?
When someone tests positive for COVID-19, the building needs to get into “go mode” fast. Be sure to have an outbreak procedure ready to deploy within 48 hours of a positive test result. If you’re working with a lean team, consider bringing on a facility partner to manage an outbreak. You might already be working with an FM vendor. If that’s the case, review your contract and their COVID-19 credentials. Determine if they are the best fit partner for a pandemic outbreak.
To contain an outbreak, follow these tips:
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - all employees and vendors working on the containment need to wear PPE to prevent further spreading the virus.
- EPA-disinfection products - The proper product can kill COVID-19 within 2 minutes while the wrong product will do nothing at all. Use products listed on the EPA’s list of approved products for COVID-19 (List-N).
- COVID-19 Certified - Work with an outbreak FM vendor certified by the Global Biorisk Advisory Board (GBAC).
- Electrostatic Disinfection Technology - Take advantage of electrostatic disinfection, which uses positive particles to adhere to surfaces and objects of any shape or size. It then coats the particles with disinfectant, sanitizing the entire space quickly.
Facility teams have more pressure to perform than ever before. Instead of comfort being the number one priority, occupants rely on them to keep them safe and healthy. By partnering with the right facility management vendor, facility departments can have peace of mind knowing that they have the support they need to keep their building’s population out of harm’s way.
Encompass is a full-service facility management company that supports businesses by proactively maintaining their building portfolio. They balance infrastructure and service needs with regulatory and operational requirements to fulfill the needs of time-strapped facility departments. Their state-of-the-art, Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC)-certified COVID-19 disinfection program is built for rapid deployment to assist your facility when you need it. No waiting weeks for assistance in containing an outbreak, Encompass can be there within 24 hours.