by Emily Langner
In episode 25 of the Build Better podcast, Anastasia welcomed Dan Titus, CEO of HRP Associates, an environmental consulting firm headquartered in Farmington, Connecticut with 11 locations nationwide.
As more AEC professionals begin returning to their places of work during the coronavirus pandemic, illness prevention and risk mitigation are an important part of the process. Titus helped break down the requirements and recommendations for safe workplaces, and offered guidance on effective protocols to keep a company or organization in compliance and operating safely in the long term.
While AEC businesses and organizations are all taking state and federal guidance seriously, it can quickly become overwhelming. In addition, much of the “guidance” doesn’t necessarily provide clear steps on how to be in compliance.
When it comes to reopening, Titus says it’s most important to try to avoid an outbreak in the first place, and that can be done by implementing a layered approach. Managers can start by scheduling regular cleanings by the janitorial staff, and having a good air handling system, including installing HEPA filters and changing them at regular intervals. In addition, he says, “you add in social distancing and traffic flow in your facility and you start to build a more robust defense against having an incident, or if someone does get sick you significantly decrease the chance that it’s going to turn into an outbreak.”
If an incident does occur, it’s important to already have a plan in place. This makes it much easier to act quickly and decrease the chance of the virus spreading, and helps an organization comply with OSHA guidance and requirements. In the event there is an exposure, companies like HRP Associates can help guide facility managers on what steps to take, or can handle the disinfection and cleanup entirely.
Titus says there are logistical questions that all companies should ask when seeking out professional services, including what specific training they have; will they be wearing all appropriate personal protective equipment; if they were to get sick, where would the liability fall; and how they dispose of the waste material generated from a cleanup. Titus emphasizes that different facility types and sizes require vastly different approaches, and it is important to look for a company that knows how to handle any type of facility.
He concludes that COVID-19 prevention should be considered a long-term endeavor – a year or more – and reiterates that leaders need to put together a plan ahead of time that decreases the risk of exposure to employees and building occupants. Doing so will create a sense of calm, empower managers, and put employees at ease and able to focus on getting back to work.
Emily Langner is the staff writer and associate editor at High-Profile Monthly.