COVID-19 Pandemic Office Reopening

Reopening the office amid covid 19

My name is Jared Adler with A1 BioHazard. I am certified in several restoration specialties and my company is a Florida registered for BioMedical Waste cleaning, storage, and transportation services. Since the start of the pandemic our primary job site has changed from Medical waste pickups, trauma scene cleaning, hoarding, and contamination remediation to that of office and work spaces.

When I speak to the office managers and even my own family I can easily see that all workers worry about Covid and especially office workers. I think this is because they understand that they work in tight environments interacting with the same people over long periods of time. That masks, and social distancing aren’t common to their workspace. Because they are used to seeing cases of colds and flus spreading in the office. And because they haven’t been in the office since the pandemic started.

Are many companies in the US signalling a return to office work or are they being more cautious?

Yes, more and more states are lifting their restrictions to all business types. Here in florida the governor has instituted phase three of reopening. This means most businesses, such as offices and hotels, can reopen to a minimum of 50% capacity if not full capacity. Not all employees can work from home, want to work from home, or work in a field conducive to working from home. Empty office buildings are draining companies of huge sums of capital while empty cubicles remain as they were abandoned with personal items, wilted potted plants, half finished lunches.

Can office-work be made ‘Covid-proof’ – or is there always a risk of transmission?

US regulations require employers to provide places of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm. Almost no situation can be ‘Covid-Proofed’ and risk of transmission is never zero but there are steps to reducing the risk the employees and building managers need to take.

Covid is spread person to person or through contact with surfaces and businesses need to address the risks where they happen. Guidelines produced by the CDC suggest social distancing, mask policies and what to do if a case of Covid is suspected at work. The CDC has also outlined how to properly clean and sanitize workspaces for returning to work or if a case is found to have been present in the building. Most companies prefer to hire a service like A1 BioHazard which has expertise in sanitation, the proper use of disinfectants, and the CDC guidelines mentioned above. Companies like our start with a focus on high traffic high touch surfaces and use foggers, sprayers, and hospital grade disinfectants.

Are offices epicenters of coronavirus outbreaks? If not, what else is likely to be?

It is unlikely that offices are or will be the epicenter of the outbreak. Transmission is most likely happening in homes, amongst family members, and in medical care centers between patients and front line healthcare workers. Indoor events with large crowds unable to socialiy distance are also thought to be especially high risk. With the proper planning and execution offices can take precautions not to mimic the risk factors that make these environments riskier.

It’s something we can help with. Both in terms of planning and ongoing cleaning and disinfectant application needs.

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