COVID-19 has brought to light the necessity for office building employers, owners and managers to take proactive measures to create a safe and healthy workplace. The following are recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for operational adjustments to keep employees and guests protected during the pandemic and beyond.
The following steps should be followed to safeguard employees and building visitors while slowing the spread of COVID-19:
- Review the CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers and create a COVID-19 workplace health and safety plan.
- Facilities that have been shut down for a prolonged period should increase air circulation, be inspected for hazards and ensure ventilation systems operate properly.
- Identify high-risk areas where potential COVID-19 exposures could occur.
- Develop hazard controls using the hierarchy of controls. Consider using a combination of engineering and administrative controls.
Engineering controls isolate people from hazards. These may include:
- Modify layout of seats, furniture and workstations.
- Implement systems to physically separate employees in the building, including work areas and common areas.
- Improve building ventilation based on local environmental conditions (e.g., temperature, humidity).
Administrative controls change the way people work. Consider the following examples:
- Encourage employees who have COVID-10 symptoms to notify their supervisor and stay home.
- Stagger shifts, start times and breaks to reduce the number of employees in common areas.
- Post signage in parking areas and entrances requesting visitors to wear cloth face coverings.
- Display instructions and reminders in strategic locations regarding hand hygiene, COVID-19 symptoms and cough/sneeze etiquette.
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces.
Employers should educate employees on how to protect themselves and others at work, including:
- Create accurate and timely communications and trainings. Recommended topics include signs and symptoms of an infection, remaining at home when ill, social distancing, cloth face coverings, hand hygiene practices, and identifying/minimizing potential routes of transmission.
- Provide information and training on specific actions employees should take when they are not feeling well (e.g., workplace leave policies, local/state health department information).
- Remind employees and clients of CDC recommendations to wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. This includes reminders that cloth face coverings do not replace the need to practice social distancing.
The CDC has posters available for employers to download and print; many are translated into different languages.
Special Considerations for Elevators and Escalators
Proactive measures should be considered and implemented if an employer’s building has elevators or escalators.
- Encourage occupants to utilize stairs when possible, especially if lobbies are crowded.
- Designate stairwells or sides of stairwells as “up” and “down” to better promote social distancing.
- Place floor markings in elevator lobbies and near escalator entrances to reinforce social distancing. Apply decals inside the elevator to identify where passengers should stand.
- Utilize stanchions in lobbies to mark directional pathways and maintain 6 feet of social distancing.
- Consider limiting elevator occupancy and enforcing empty steps between escalator passengers.
- Post reminder signage for occupants to minimize surface touching. Recommend they use an object (such as a pen cap) or knuckle to push elevator buttons.
- Consider installing supplemental air ventilation or air-treatment devices in elevator cars.
For More Information
Review the CDC's Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers for additional recommendations.
For more information on the COVID-19 pandemic and your risk as a property owner or employer, contact one of our team members today.
Post-Coronavirus Office ChecklistCOVID-19 Vaccine Consideration for Employers (cbiz.com)