As new research and statements are being released rapidly, it can be challenging the process of a safe building reopening. At qlair, our mission is to equip decision makers with the information they need to reopen their buildings in a safe, clean, and intelligent manner.Although this list contains key highlights from support documentation, it is important to do further research into the guidelines set forth by leading experts.
Our research team has scoured the latest in peer-reviewed research; guidelines set forth by the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA); and recommendations from other leading experts and agencies. This guide highlights the critical guidelines to consider prior to reopening, with access to documentation and recommendations from the sources themselves.
Cleaning and Disinfectant Before and After Building Reopening
Coronavirus is transmitted predominantly via two modes of transportation. The first being close contact with an infected individual and the second being through respiratory droplets collected on surfaces or directly spread to a person’s mouth or nose. Both the CDC and OSHA recommend intensifying cleaning and disinfection efforts:
- Normal routine cleaning with soap and water to remove germs and dirt
- Sanitize and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
- Use EPA-approved disinfectants for your cleaning routine
Air cleaning techniques may be implemented to remove harmful contaminants from the air to reduce disease spread. Introducing a retrofit solution, such as a negative air machine, can be highly effective in healthcare settings and commercial applications alike. These machines use high-efficiency HEPA filters and UV-C radiation to capture and kill viruses and bacteria.
Indoor Air Quality Management
Optimizing your approach to ventilation is an integral part of preparing your building to reopen. The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) states that the airborne transmission of coronavirus is considered sufficiently likely to warrant changes to ventilation efforts. This statement is reaffirmed by the recommendations set forth by the CDC:
Both the CDC and OSHA recommend intensifying cleaning and disinfection efforts:
- Increase both ventilation rates and outdoor air ventilation
- Ensure ventilation systems operate properly and provide acceptable indoor air quality for the current occupancy level for each space
- Maintain a relative humidity that falls between 40 and 70 percent to reduce risk of disease spread.
Ensuring your filters and HVAC system are performing correctly can reduce the risk of spreading disease. The CDC, ASHRAE, and OSHA have all expressed the necessity to put filtration efforts in place to help mitigate disease spread. In addition, this is supported by Harvard research concluding that long-term exposure to airborne particulate matter has been shown to increase death rates in coronavirus patients. Recommendations include:
- Improve central air filtration to the MERV-13 or the highest compatible with the filter rack, and seal edges of the filter to limit bypass
- Monitor filter status closely and change accordingly to ensure clean, fresh air
Although air quality monitoring has not been specifically mentioned by the CDC and OSHA as part of their building reopening guidelines, a focus on HVAC manipulation presents an effective use-case application. Environmental control, HVAC management, and air pollution control have been critical talking points for reducing the airborne concentration of viruses. Our sensors present real-time data on the status of your indoor air, as well as other high priority information like pollution concentration, filter status, and more.
General Best Practices
- Hand-Washing: Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. Inform employees that if their hands are visibly dirty, they should use soap and water over hand sanitizer. Key times to wash are before and after shifts and breaks, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; after using the restroom; and before eating or preparing food.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): First, businesses must Conduct workplace hazard assessment to determine what PPE is needed for their workers. The business should then provide this equipment at no cost. Employees that do not require PPE should be encouraged to wear a cloth face covering.
- Social Distancing: Employees and customers should be wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, but wearing these coverings does not replace the need for social distancing. Complete the health checks in a way that helps maintain social distancing guidelines, such as providing multiple screening entries into the building.
Expert Help for Navigating Building Reopening Guidelines
Our team at qlair has partnered with a leader in cleaning and disinfectant – Spiffy – to provide an end-to-end solution to building reopening. We have developed a five–phase process that will:
- Establish a healthy baseline for your indoor environment prior to reopening
- Prepare your building with rigorous cleaning and disinfecting
- Enable your building to provide a continuously clean and safe environment for your occupants