Havencab Property Group has been working hard on non-pharmacological interventions to protect our workers and clients from the spread of the pandemic virus COVID-19. Below are 17 steps that all FMs should be considering to help protect workers and the public from the spread of the pandemic virus COVID-19.
Obviously you want to protect yourself and others from getting and spreading respiratory illnesses like the coronavirus COVID-19. Facilities managers have a critical role in implementing non-pharmacological intervention strategies. Without non-pharmacological interventions, the number of COVID-19 cases in China would likely have shown a 67-fold increase.
Nonpharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) are actions, apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine, that people and communities can take to help slow the spread of illnesses like pandemic viruses (like COVID-19). NPIs are also known as community mitigation strategies. When a new virus spreads among people, causing illness worldwide, it is called a pandemic. Because a pandemic virus is new, the human population has little or no immunity against it. This allows the virus to spread quickly from person to person worldwide. NPIs are among the best ways of controlling pandemic outbreaks when vaccines are not yet available.
In the current pandemic, facilities managers will play a key role in protecting residents’ health and safety as well as in limiting the impact on the economy and society. Businesses will likely experience employee absences, changes in patterns of commerce and interrupted supply and delivery schedules. Proper planning and actions will allow businesses to better protect their residents and workers and lessen the impact of a pandemic on society and the economy. All stakeholders must plan and act appropriately. You can read the scientific data here.
As a facilities manager, we have an important role in protecting resident and worker health and safety, and in limiting the impact of a pandemic. It is important to integrate your pandemic actions with local and government planning. Integration with local community planners will allow you to access resources and information promptly to maintain operations and keep your people safe.
Facilities managers need to be prepared for the effects of the pandemic virus COVID-19. Some steps that you can take are outlined below.
Educate and train workers in proper hand hygiene, cough etiquette and social distancing techniques. Understand and develop work practice and engineering controls that could provide additional protection to your employees and customers, such as: drive-through service windows, clear plastic sneeze barriers, ventilation, and the proper selection, use and disposal of personal protective equipment.
These are not comprehensive recommendations. The most important part of pandemic control measures is to work with your workers, local and state agencies and other businesses to develop cooperative pandemic actions to maintain your operations and keep your workers and the public safe. Share what you know, be open to ideas from your workers, then identify and share effective health practices with other businesses in your community.
For most businesses, protecting their workers will depend on emphasising proper hygiene (disinfecting hands and surfaces) and practicing social distancing. Social distancing means reducing the frequency, proximity, and duration of contact between people (both workers and the public) to reduce the chances of spreading the pandemic virus from person-to-person. All employers should implement good hygiene and infection control practices.
Work health and safety professionals use a framework called the “hierarchy of controls” to select ways of dealing with workplace hazards. The hierarchy of controls prioritises intervention strategies based on the premise that the best way to control a hazard is to systematically remove it from the workplace, rather than relying on workers to reduce their exposure. In the setting of a pandemic, this hierarchy should be used in conjunction with current government health recommendations.The types of measures that may be used to protect yourself, your workers, and your residents (listed from most effective to least effective) are: engineering controls, administrative controls, work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE). Most businesses will use a combination of control methods. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of control measure when considering the ease of implementation, effectiveness, and cost. For example, hygiene and social distancing can be implemented relatively easily and with little expense, but this control method requires workers to modify and maintain this behaviour, which may be difficult to sustain. On the other hand, installing clear plastic barriers or other physical measures will be more expensive and take a longer time to implement, although in the long run may be more effective at preventing transmission during the pandemic. Employers must evaluate their particular workplace to develop a plan for protecting their employees that may combine both immediate actions as well as longer term solutions.