Safeguarding Health Before Going Back to Work
Business restrictions might still come and go and get modified in the near future. But once those are lifted, there’s that necessity and pressure to get back to work. This business continuity is crucial not just in maintaining employment and allowing businesses to survive, but also in facilitating economic activity and making sure customers always have access to essential products and services.
Before going back to work
Before going back to the workplace and get things done, first it’s important to have a plan in place. This is to safeguard the health of workers and customers and limit the spread of the virus. In line with this, physical distancing is a must because close contact with an infected person is a huge factor in getting the virus. Regular cleaning and disinfection of touch surfaces (tables, desks, workstations, doorknobs, machinery, phones) is also a must to kill off viruses and further lower the chances of spread.
Aside from COVID-19 though, it’s also important to pay attention to health risks and threats. One such threat may come from the restarting of the HVAC system. During periods of shutdown of heating and cooling systems, corrosion might build up and sites will be created for microbes to grow (which the stagnant water can encourage). When workers come in and stay in the premises, they might feel unwell immediately or after a few hours. Some of us will immediately think that perhaps it’s COVID-19 but the truth is it could be because of the poor indoor air quality. It might have resulted from the microbial growth in ducts, condenser water systems and cooling towers. The microbes can cause irritation and even a serious lung infection.
The effect gets worse because of the long hours inside the workplace. If indoor air quality is poor (i.e. easy build-up of contaminants, poor ventilation), we continuously inhale both the chemical and microbiological contaminants. Those might have accumulated and thrived during periods of business shutdown. As a result, it’s then crucial to have the HVAC systems inspected before fully going back to work and letting the occupants in again.
Timely and prompt HVAC maintenance will also help in improving and maintaining good indoor air quality. Although much of the focus is still on COVID-19, we still have to pay attention to the thermal comfort and air quality inside workplaces. This way, we can truly safeguard people’s health, remain productive and address all concerns and potential comfort and health issues before and during work.