Operating with Confidence
Facility Infection Control Measures
24 November 2020
When people enter a place, they want assurance that it's safe. Building owners and managers want to know they have developed and are appropriately implementing best practices to react to infection and minimize the potential for transmission. Most importantly, they want employees and visitors to their facility to feel as safe as possible. It is important to understand what science tells us about how pathogens (including COVID-19) are spread in buildings, and to address disinfection and implement ongoing measures to control risks for pathogen transmission.
Once infected by a virus like COVID-19, the viral load can increase thereby increasing the opportunity for transmission to another person through either direct contact or indirect contact. Direct contact occurs when a person encounters another individual resulting in the transmission of the virus. Transmission via indirect contact can occur by a person coming into contact with contaminated surface areas, via the dispersion of aerosolized droplets containing the virus from person to person within close proximity, or can be transmitted or over greater distances by way of smaller, lighter particles via airborne transmission. COVID-19 has been shown to live on some surfaces for as many as five days with a few documented cases of extended periods.
To provide peace of mind to employees, guests, customers, and others entering a building, it's important to have an effective infection control program in place. This includes training people (i.e. employees) on best practices, implementing procedures and methods for disinfection and enhancing operations for facility health management.
Training should include information about the nature of a virus, strategies to protect staff and customers, and how to respond to a situation if positive cases are identified. This provides confidence to staff and customers that health, safety and wellbeing is important. Training should provide broad, basic information on viruses, sanitization, personal hygiene, interaction, proper use of tools and systems. It should also help employees understand risks and what they can do to prevent exposure. It is important to keep up with the facts and present accurate information and suggested practices.
When it comes to disinfection processes, focus on procedures and methods. This should include area assessments of both the functional spaces and occupant activities. This should include evaluating the need for initial cleaning, janitorial routines, and plans for potential positive tests. Disinfection considerations should also include protocols, equipment/methods and verification measures. Protocols must address the different conditions and surfaces in each type of occupational setting, and it is important to remember that one protocol does not fit all conditions.
Key elements of facility health management include air quality, water quality, physical activity, and comfort among other considerations. Engineering controls, like air contaminant removal, HVAC system design, and touchless technologies/controls can address some of these concerns, as can physical barriers, flexible scheduling, adaptable use of spaces and integrating infection control into routine operations. To achieve this, it is important to understand infection and its pathways to implement the best, most effective practices for your space.
Infection control will be with us for the long term, as the world deals with COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Facility control measures can be implemented to reduce risk and provide peace of mind to occupants, playing an important role in a building's safety and security. Learn more in our webinar recording.