There has never been a greater responsibility laying upon facilities management than during a viral pandemic like the one we are currently experiencing with COVID-19. Managing your facilities in such times of crises is largely about protecting your employees, customers, and many others.
There are two critical roles for facilities management in this respect. First, to prevent and mitigate the risks of an outbreak in the facilities, and second, to handle and contain the outbreak in the unfortunate case it happens.
While measures such as reducing capacity, splitting into shifts, and remote work arrangements are highly effective in reducing concentration and physical proximity, not all businesses can afford such measures, at least not for a long term. With a lot of critical businesses and organizations having to stay open through the pandemic, and with plans for other businesses to reopen soon, there is a growing need for effective and sustainable strategies to manage risks.
The facilities management function can continue to focus on reducing physical proximity, disinfecting hotspots, and increasing individual and collective awareness. Here are a few recommended measures:
- Consider closing non-critical common areas such as pantries, canteens, break rooms, conference and meeting rooms.
- Disable biometric access systems, elevators, and any non-critical systems that force physical proximity or require operation by hand.
- Focus on disinfecting common surfaces such as handrails, doorknobs and handles, elevator buttons, sinks and faucets, light switches, copying machines, vending machines, etc.
- Increase awareness about social distancing, handwash and usage of personal protective equipment through internal communication and signage. Here are some examples of what we have used at Imdaad Group. The UAE Ministry of Health of Prevention has also provided some useful awareness materials that you can adopt to your organization.
- Ensure disinfectants are available across the facility and add refilling and replacement to general maintenance routines while securing enough supplies ahead of time.
- Conduct deep and thorough disinfection services on a regular basis outside of working hours. You can take advantage of Isnaad’s dedicated and guaranteed disinfection services which include nano-coating treatment to protect high contact surfaces for 30 days.
- Disinfect people and goods at the entry and exit points of the facility. For this you can use disinfection tunnels such as ViroShield from Imdaad Group’s Vision Safety.
- Avoid air recirculation in the HVAC systems and ensure proper ventilation around the clock.
- Use HEPA filters in rooms that don’t have proper air circulation.
- Revisit the schedules, routines, and service levels you have agreed on with your facilities management service provider to ensure that they meet the new reality. Increase frequency, add disinfection activities to the list, and explore new services that can help you mitigate risks.
The other critical aspect of facilities management in pandemic times is the response in case of an outbreak within the facility.
- Keep all the emergency numbers handy and make sure they are known to the people in charge. Here are the numbers to call:
- 998 – Ambulance
- 800-11111 – Ministry of Health and Prevention
- 800-342 – Dubai Health Authority
- 800-1717 – “Estijaba” service – Department of Health in Abu Dhabi
- Have a dedicated number that your employees or clients can call to report any incident.
- Ensure that you have a dedicated area that can be used for isolation of the suspected cases and the people they interacted with, and an isolated route from that area to the outside.
- Put together a predefined plan of action and rehearse it with the facilities management team and the employees using “mock crises” just like the fire drills.
It is important to understand that every business and every facility is unique, and so there is not one-size-fits-all approach to prevention and containment in facilities management. We recommend that you create your own strategy based on your knowledge and experience in your facilities while enlisting the help of your facilities management service provider.
Here are some of the preventive measure we have taken at Imdaad Group:
- Awareness and prevention trainings on sites and at employee accommodations.
- Training materials provided to supervisors and engineers for their toolbox talks.
- Prevention and control action plans for each site.
- Emergency response plans in line with DHA protocols.
- Enforced social distancing policy.
- Work from home packages for users and customer service agents in case of escalation.
- Awareness campaigns through emails, rollups, posters, and notice boards, and in multiple languages.
- Sanitizers, handwash soap and PPEs made available at all camps and offices.
- Regular disinfection, decontamination and deep cleaning for all camps and offices.
- Daily temperature checkups and counselling.
- Regular visits from EHSQ and HR representatives to ensure good hygiene protocol.
Find out more at: Imdaad Group’s preventive measures for COVID-19
We are just a call away if you need any support in implementing preventive measures or if you require any of our dedicated services for COVID-19 prevention including: