As the US economy gradually returns to normalcy and businesses re-open, there is a heightened level of consciousness among workers about safety, health, and hygiene-related issues at the workplace. In this situation, it is vital for employers, building owners, and facility managers to re-open their facilities in a way that carefully balances business requirements and employee well-being.
Employees should have clear communication and reassurance about the facility maintenance, cleaning and disinfection measures that are put in place to protect all building occupants and visitors against the risk of virus spread. The return-to-work process should be as flexible and accommodative as possible to allow for a smooth and successful re-opening.
Facility maintenance steps to provide a healthy and safe workplace
Before re-opening the building, test the life safety and mechanical systems to ensure these are fully operational and the building is set for occupancy. Pay attention to typical hazards associated with extended disuse of building, such as stagnant water issues, pests and rodents, and mold growth, and take corrective action
- Ventilation system operations are more important than ever for the health and safety of building occupants. Following a prolonged building shutdown, check the building’s ventilation and HVAC systems and perform repairs or replacements as needed.
- Make use of fans and keep doors and windows in the building open wherever possible to increase outdoor air circulation. However, avoid opening of doors and windows in areas where it increases the risk of accidents or indoor pollution (pollen, molds, and carbon monoxide).
- Mitigate the risk of water-borne diseases by ensuring that the building’s water-based devices, such as cooling towers and ice machines, and water features, such as drinking fountains, sink faucets, and decorative fountains are safe to use following extended disuse of the facility.
Focus on areas where the virus exposure risks for building occupants are high
- Perform a comprehensive workplace hazard assessment in accordance with OSHA regulations to identify areas of potential hazard at the facility where the virus transmission risks could be higher.
- Make a note of all the common areas and work zones where employees, clients or other visitors are likely to have a closer physical contact with others. These may include waiting areas, check-in areas, elevators, rest rooms, meeting rooms, locker rooms, cafeteria, and various entry-exit routes.
- Make sure that all relevant in-house teams, such as staff, management, janitorial team, maintenance team, relief workers, and utility workers are a part of all communications and maintenance plans and strategy.
- If you have hired a professional facility maintenance company, make a detailed building maintenance, janitorial, disinfection and engineering plan together with their team to minimize the risks of virus transmission.
Put in place measures for social distancing to reduce the risk of infection spread
- Adjust or modify the workstations, furniture, and seating arrangements to maintain 6 ft. social distancing between workers as far as possible.
- Where possible, install physical barriers such as transparent shields in areas where outside visitors are expected, and social distancing may not be viable.
- Use visual cues such as colored tape marks and signs on the floor for people to stand where it is not possible to install physical shields.
Measures to improve building ventilation in consultation with your facility maintenance partner
- Based on the local conditions of humidity and temperature, your facility maintenance provider’s HVAC and engineering professionals can boost the outdoor air percentage using the HVAC economizer modes or other techniques.
- Where possible in the occupied spaces, increase the supply of aggregate airflow.
- Where necessary, disable the DCV (demand control ventilation), which lowers the total air supply.
- Where building requirements and environmental conditions permit, make use of natural ventilation to dilute the indoor air and boost outdoor air volumes.
- Focus on enhancing central air filtration as much as you can without compromising the design airflow. Evaluate the filter racks and housing to ensure the correct filter fit. Consider solutions to cut down filter bypass.
- Consider the possibility of using HEPA filtration systems, particularly in high-risk zones to achieve superior air cleaning.
- Make sure the restroom exhaust fans are functioning properly once the building is re-opened for occupancy.
- Evaluate the possibility of using supplemental measures such as UVGI (ultraviolet germicidal irradiation) in common areas to inactivate airborne germs, while following industry guidelines.
Consider the installation of advanced air purification building systems
Cutting-edge indoor air purification technologies are now available, which can reduce the risks of virus spread in large buildings. One of the key solutions that facility maintenance provider Servi-Tek, Inc. has recently installed in a 22-story office building in Hawaii is the NPBI (needlepoint bipolar ionization) system for air sterilization.
This bipolar ionization system generates negative and positive ions in high concentrations. These ions get delivered to the targeted areas of the building through the air-conditioning ducts. The unique properties of the ions enable them to get attached to the viruses, bacteria, mold, and other harmful pathogens, as well as different types of particulates and odors.
Laboratory tests have confirmed that exposure to bipolar ionization helps in eliminating a large percentage of the disease-causing viruses and germs, while also significantly removing indoor air pollutants.
Choose electrostatic disinfection cleaning to eliminate harmful pathogens
Electrostatic disinfection technology can improve surface cleaning and sanitization in large building spaces up to 90%. The electrostatic device will charge the disinfectant liquid with negative molecules, which will stick to the surface and wrap illness causing germs, contaminants, and pollutants evenly on every side.This allows for more effective coating of the disinfectant on the surface for deep sanitization and cleaning. Difficult-to-reach surfaces often become the breeding grounds for the development of harmful bacteria and viruses because manual cleaning may not be able to target those seemingly minor or remote spots.
Electrostatic spray disinfection leaves nothing to chance and thoroughly cleans hard-to-reach surfaces as well as odd-shaped objects that are otherwise difficult to clean. All types of commercial facilities and businesses can make use of electrostatic disinfection cleaning, including office buildings, schools, hotels, factories, gyms, and assisted living facilities.
Servi-Tek, Inc. is providing the advanced and innovative electrostatic disinfection services to help commercial property owners, managers and employers protect building occupants against disease-causing viruses.
The bottom line
Re-opening your business and ensuring a safe return to work for your employees may appear to be an overwhelming task. It may be best to work with a competent and reliable commercial facility maintenance company, such as Servi-Tek, Inc., which is using advanced cleaning, disinfection, and engineering techniques to help large buildings make a safe and successful transition. To learn more about how Servi-Tek’s customized facility maintenance services and solutions can help meet your business re-opening goals, call their client service experts at (866) 454-6185 or contact online.
Servi-Tek, formed in 2006 out of its frustration with the status quo, provides commercial cleaning and facility maintenance services. High turnover rates and poor performance were the norm within our industry. Servi-Tek’s team consists of industry experts that leverage technology and focus their greatest efforts on its people and processes by investing heavily in training programs and constantly looking for opportunities to make improvements. Servi-Tek has experienced rapid growth over the years expanding to over 500 employees, working across multiple states. In 2016, the company formed ServiTek Engineering & Facility Solutions.