Insight - Healthy Spaces

It Is Time to Revisit Healthy Workplace Plans and Controls for 2022

Reactions to COVID appear to be repeating for every variant.

Heading into a new year, with surging cases of COVID-19 due to the Omicron variant, employers again are facing a “change of plans.” The question being asked by many across the US is… if not 2022, when, where, and how will people “return to work?”

Recent headlines from the Boston Globe, CNBC, and the New York Times paint a picture that the “return to office” movement previously envisioned for 2022 is temporarily on hold for some like Apple and other large tech firms. However, for many employers across the US, this isn’t a reality that they can endure.

Corporate Campus

Where have our back-to-work plans gone?

Furthermore, office closures are generally voluntary and we know more about COVID-19 than ever before, so it begs the question… Are corporations making the right call by suspending their return-to-work plans?

Look around, over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations adopted various forms of risk mitigation and healthy workplace procedures. From restaurants to hospitals, the way in which we interact with people and spaces has changed. What’s important, however, is not the creation of these plans but rather, the continual improvement and utilization of them. Unfortunately, many have failed to uphold the programs that they put in place many months ago and some have even forgotten them altogether.

 

What the experts are saying about our buildings.

According to the science and our improved understanding of COVID-19,  experts suggest that instead of working from home, we should be focusing our efforts on creating improved spaces and “Healthy Workplaces.” Recent studies and government policies outline that there are controls that minimize risk in the workplace. One such interpretation of those controls shows PPE on one end and work from home as it’s counterpart.

The COVID-19 pandemic is novel, but airborne diseases are not. The hierarchy of controls designed in conjunction with public health officials and the CDC is a trusted method of protecting workers against airborne diseases when implemented correctly.

healthy workplace safety controls

 

Employers can move towards a healthy workplace and building.

Squarely in the middle of this hierarchy is “engineering controls”, a category of measures, practices, and technologies useful in building a healthy ecosystem inside your space. Among these items, there are solution-based controls like localized air purification devices (such as air purifiers inside individual offices and cubicle spaces) touchless machines (think bathroom amenities), and water quality regulation. A healthy workplace does not have to be complex and can be launched in phases.

There are approximately 7-10 controls recommended to improve the “comprehensive health” of a building from water quality to noise and the lighting of a space. While all simultaneously important, when faced with an airborne health issue, there are 2-3 controls that are most impactful: air quality, ventilation, and surface cleaning.

These engineered controls, when married with real administrative controls (think creative social distancing and scheduling) can create a powerful and impactful punch in workplace safety around the US. The important thing? Getting started. Find solutions and implement technology and process that have an impact. Simple things, like creating a nightly cleaning procedure or buying a plug-and-play air purification system sized appropriately can be a good start in improving the overall cleanliness and safety of a building or space.

 

Short-term vs. long-term strategy.

When faced with an airborne concern like COVID-19, it makes sense that employers are nervous. There is no silver bullet and no set way to ensure zero people get sick at work. However, science shows us that we can dramatically reduce the risk of going back to the workplace if we invest in the systems and procedures such as that control outcomes, and ultimately create healthy workplaces and buildings. To learn how HealthWay can help your business improve its healthy workplace plan, click here.

By doing so, we aren’t band-aiding or avoiding the problem altogether. We’re facing it head-on and creating a better, safer place for years to come.

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Stark Tech Group - Rochester, NY

Get advice on air purification controls.

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