As local and state governments are beginning a phased reopening of their economies, the International Code Council has compiled a guide of safety precautions and considerations for businesses looking to resume in-office activities. Acting as an aggregate information hub, the Code Council’s Coronavirus Response Center offers relevant information for building professionals and potential occupants to understand the impact the pandemic has had on the industry, as well as for companies who are currently creating plans and strategies to move back into their offices.
Ahead of reopening efforts, the Code Council has made it a priority to educate businesses, office managers and building safety professionals on an important but often-overlooked safety precaution – preparing an office building for re-occupancy. With many buildings reducing or turning off normal system operations during stay-at-home orders, it is critical to properly inspect and prepare a vacant building ahead of resuming regular activities. Without proper preparation and maintenance, the building may pose unrealized hazards to incoming occupants, whether from a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) or plumbing system to a powerless carbon monoxide detector.
Due to the wide range of aspects necessary for reopening a previously unoccupied building, the Code Council’s Coronavirus Response Center covers topics include:
- Addressing any temporary changes needed to building access and exit patterns to accommodate temporary reopening protocols such as employee health screenings, disposal of PPE, or any areas specifically designated for decontamination.
- Visually inspecting and testing the operation of building entrances and exits including doors, revolving doors, and garage doors for proper operation and ensure they are free from obstructions.
- If a building’s water distribution system has been shut down or seen reduced flow, flushing the pipe system with clean, potable water to remove any unwanted debris.
- Facilitating adequate physical distancing protocols, and considerations for revising maximum occupant loads for all buildings and spaces to accommodate 75 gross SF/occupant.
- Closing common areas where personnel are likely to congregate and interact or enforcing strict physical distancing protocols.
- Guidance on disinfecting communal areas from FEMA and the CDC
“COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on our society, both economically and socially. As we continue to learn to navigate the new normal and discover what that actually entails, having easy access to information on topics like how to properly prepare a vacant building for reoccupation is crucial, especially during reopening efforts,” said Dominic Sims, CBO and CEO, International Code Council.