What is COVID-19 Signaling to Workplace Safety and Design?

As COVID-19 continues to infiltrate our communities across the globe, let us take this lockdown as an opportunity to rethink the built environment and its impact on our health.

As designers focused on health and wellness, we want to share the immediate measures that architects, designers, building managers, and employers can take to create safe environments that control the transmission of disease as we eventually move past this global pandemic:

  1. Educational handwashing signage — A small component to both Fitwel and WELL Certification, is an easy and creative way to keep the importance of avoiding the spread of germs top of mind.
  2. “Healthy sink” design — The knowledge of virology has to inform design decisions moving forward. A deep basin, offset drain, reducing the number of flat surfaces where germs can sit, and installing ventilation systems that allow for removing potentially contaminated air are all critical elements in preventing the spread of infection.
  3. Indoor Air Filtration — This preventative measure can help property managers, architects, and engineers plan for the future.1  We utilize indoor HEPA filters throughout our office space. They have a triple filtration process: particle matter filtration, or PM (PM 2.5, which is also what the N95 masks being used in the hospitals right now remove), charcoal (helps remove the VOCs), and then HEPA to remove the fine particles (PM 10).
  4. Office Cleaning Procedures — Keeping the workplace clean can inhibit the spread of communicable diseases, especially as we all start to return to the workplace. Most cleaning staff are instructed not to touch employees’ desks, so it’s important that both employees and cleaning staff are informed to routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces and pay special attention to the list of high-touch surfaces from the CDC.
  5. Outbreak Response Plan – Create a clear, flexible plan to share your plan with employees and explain what human resources policies, workplace/leave flexibilities, and pay and benefits will be available to them.2

The health and well-being of employees will be the primary concern as we all start to venture back into shared spaces. Taking immediate action now to improve the overall health of your workplace will be vital to controlling future impacts and securing operational resilience.

Contact our wellness experts to learn more: [email protected]

 

1 https://www.fitwel.org/product/5-ways-to-optimize-buildings-for-covid-19-prevention

2 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

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