If all goes well, we can expect more office buildings and many other types of commercial facilities to open in Illinois later this summer. This means property owners and managers should be taking steps now, to make sure their facilities are up, running, and healthy, went put back into service.
Here are some reopening steps we recommend for workers involved in preparing buildings for the arrival of building users:
Wear appropriate PPE gear. This includes masks, preferably N-95 masks or KN-95 masks, which are more available now, as well as gloves and eye protection. We are also asking many of our staff to wear coveralls and special shoes when working. Coveralls can be taken off at the end of the work shift and washed. Work footwear should also be washed or cleaned and disinfected daily.
Review PPE procedures. Make sure all workers know how to correctly put on PPE gear as well as take it off. For instance, with masks, the metal part should be over the nose. Place pressure on each end of the metal so that it fits tightly below the eyes. When removing masks, first wash hands. This way any pathogens on the hands will not transfer to the mask or the workers face.
Once the mask is off, wash hands again. Single-use masks and gloves should be disposed of properly.
Adhere to “back of the house” social distancing. For instance, freight elevators, typically used by building personnel, should have no more than two people in them. Similar restrictions may be necessary when people are inside mechanical rooms and storage areas.
Reopening, Cleaning, and Sanitation
Most of the other reopening and preparation steps involve cleaning and sanitation. Ensuring the building is as clean and healthy as possible from the start will help welcome people back and reduce concerns and anxieties. Among the steps we recommend are the following:
· Conduct an inventory to see if all necessary cleaning solutions, materials, consumables, products, and equipment are in stock. Some cleaning supplies may be hard to get, so do this as soon as possible.
· Disinfectants are a top concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now provides a list of recommended disinfectants that help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
· Cleaning workers must be trained on the proper use of disinfectants. This includes such things as dilution of the disinfectant as well as adhering to necessary dwell times.
· If electrostatic sprayers are used, review with cleaning workers how to use these machines correctly. These machines help disinfect and sanitize large areas of a facility. They are proving to be the right machine at the right time to fight COVID-19 and perfect for buidling reopenings.
· Make sure all cleaning equipment is working correctly. Pay special attention to vacuum cleaners. The CDC is recommending the use of vacuum cleaners equipped with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. These filters can capture and trap microbes, such as those that can cause the virus, and prevent them from being released into the air.
· Conduct a walk-through of the entire facility, determining which are the most heavily used areas and which need the most cleaning attention. This could include cafeterias and food service areas, major walkways, gyms and locker rooms, conference areas, and restrooms. Also note areas that may not need as much attention. This way, cleaning professionals can better allocate their time when it is needed the most.
· Create an end-of-shift hygiene routine for cleaning workers to follow. For instance, if coveralls are worn, special shoes, or any PPE gear, take them off before leaving the facility.
The Need for Fresh Eyes
This is also an excellent time to bring in a set of “fresh eyes” to examine your facility. A pair of fresh eyes can see things that may be currently overlooked and make suggestions on ways to ensure your facility is sanitized, decontaminated, and healthy. We are now offering this service to building owners and managers throughout the state.
And one more thing. During these turbulent and disturbing times, we also recommend that building owners and managers let tenants know what steps are being taken to protect their health and safety. Usually, information on how a facility is cleaned and maintained is of minor interest to building users. Now it may be the first thing they inquire about.