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Restroom Operation Tips For Facility and Property Managers

Restroom Operation Tips For Facility and Property Managers

Restrooms are important for the comfort of employees and visitors, but can also require a lot of time and resources to keep clean, stocked, and maintained. The novel coronavirus has made an enormous impact on how people react when confronted with the possibility of infection, and this has caused many to view public restrooms with suspicion. As a place that potentially hundreds of people may visit daily, touching everything from door handles, to counter spaces, to toilet handles, public restrooms represent a significant possible source of surface-transmitted infection. Here are some ways that facility and property managers can make their restroom areas as safe, clean, and reassuring as possible:

1. Train employees to avoid cross-contamination and use cleaning tools appropriately.

There are a lot of disinfectants that are approved for eliminating the novel coronavirus on surfaces, but they only work as long as users are able to follow instructions. Some need to be applied on surfaces and allowed to work for ten minutes, and can't do their job if a maintenance worker is in too much of a rush to give them time. Make sure staff members understand the importance of following usage instructions to the letter, cleaning frequently, and taking steps to avoid cross-contamination. Some facilities achieve the latter by using color-coded reusable cleaning rags, saving one color for handles, another for windows, another for toilets and urinals, and another for surfaces like tables and counters.

2. Take advantage of low traffic times.

Every facility has peak usage hours, and times when things slow down a bit. Document when restrooms are likely to see few visitors, then use that time to schedule deep cleanings. Restrooms should receive regular disinfection at least once a day, in addition to regular deep cleaning to tackle spaces that may have been missed, hard-to-reach areas, or spots that get a lot of traffic.

3. Post signage.

Hand sanitizer is great in a pinch, but hand washing is more effective -- as long as it's done properly. Posting a helpful reminder of proper hand washing techniques can increase handwashing by up to 40%, according to The Healthy Hand Washing Survey by Bradley Corp. Signs can also help restrict the maximum occupancy of restrooms, making it easier to socially distance. Signs don't just let employees and guests know what to do, they show that you take their health seriously and are working to protect them.

4. Enforce social distancing.

Placing tape or plastic bags over urinals, or even physically locking bathroom stalls, can help users maintain social distancing. With fewer fixtures to choose from, guests will be forced to use ones that aren't adjacent to each other, reducing the risk of person-to-person coronavirus transmission. This also reduces the number of fixtures that need attention from employees, saving time, and helping to streamline routine cleaning and disinfection.

5. Provide hand sanitizing stations near exits.

After a guest has washed their hands, they may still need to touch the sink, hand dryer, paper towel dispenser, or door handle before leaving. Providing a space for them to use hand sanitizer afterward can help keep them from picking up pathogens from these surfaces, and either getting sick or carrying them to another surface. Roughly 65% of people use paper towels to avoid touching these surfaces, so providing a trash can for them to dispose of used towels can help keep things neat.

6. Upgrade to touchless fixtures.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and all the cleaning and disinfecting in the world can only do so much. Since it's not feasible to thoroughly sanitize a restroom after each visitor, especially during peak usage times, touchless fixtures can offer guests a way to do what they need to do, while coming into contact with as few surfaces as possible. Hands-free washrooms are safer for guests and require fewer resources to sanitize.

7. Keep doors open.

While having touchless sinks, hand dryers, and toilets is great, there's still one spot that few guests can avoid touching: the door. Since touchless doors aren't a practical solution here, the next best thing is to keep them propped open. This keeps guests from having to touch the door with their hands to enter or exit, and allows them to gauge how many people are inside. This eliminates another key touchpoint and lets guests follow occupancy limits and socially distance more effectively.

Restrooms are a necessary evil. They require a lot of time and energy to keep clean and stocked, and, in a post-pandemic world, properly disinfected. Few guests look forward to visiting a public restroom, especially now. With these tips, facility and property managers can help improve their disinfection, protect their guests and employees, and ensure that their restrooms are as safe, clean, and welcoming as possible.

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5 Steps Every Facility Manager Should Take Before Reopening

5 Steps Every Facility Manager Should Take Before Reopening

As COVID-19 cases begin to plateau in some areas, states have begun to test out reopening strategies. This has left a lot of business owners wondering if what they're doing is enough to keep them, their clients, and their employees safe. If you manage a facility, you're likely in the same boat. Here are 5 steps you can take to make sure that your reopening goes as smoothly and safely as possible.

1. Confirm your plans with your local government, legal team, or any other relevant authorities.

Make sure your company is following the most current guidelines by confirming your intent to reopen with your local government. In some cases, your building may require a new certificate of occupancy -- address this first, so you don't have to scramble to fix any legal red tape later on.

Once you've created a re-opening plan, it may need approval from other departments in your company. Risk and audit teams, legal teams, security, and human resources should all be kept apprised of any plans to reopen, new policies, or updates to existing ones. They can help ensure that everything is structured appropriately, so you won't be held liable for any missteps in the reopening process.

2. Perform a deep clean, and reassess current cleaning procedures and cleanliness standards.

No matter how clean a place might have been before shuttering, dust inevitably begins to settle and pests might even try to move in. Before reopening, it's imperative that facilities conduct a thorough, top-to-bottom cleaning, followed by a long look at their current cleaning procedures. Cleaning products should be swapped out for those that contain EPA-approved disinfectants that are effective against the novel coronavirus, cleanliness standards should meet CDC guidelines, and facility managers should consider including extra measures (like UV sanitizers) in their protocols.

This is also a good time to double-check your supply chain. Are you able to get all of the supplies you need? Are any of your suppliers in hotspots that might threaten product availability? Have backup plans in place in case you aren't able to source necessary items from your current suppliers, so you aren't left having to go without and putting your workers and guests at risk.

3. Create tighter social distancing policies.

Should you require employees to have their temperatures checked before entering the building? Will you require visitors to wear masks? Will you need to move furniture in order to accommodate six feet of social distancing? Depending on the nature of your business, you will need to create, update, or change your business' social distancing policies. If your policy requires masks and gloves, make sure that employees know how to wear, clean, and dispose of their protective gear properly.

Infrared thermometer guns can check employees' and visitors' temperatures in seconds, and sanitizer stations can offer hand sanitizer, wipes, gloves, and even disposable masks if needed. Look for touch-free sanitizer dispensers, so guests don't have to come in contact with a potentially contaminated surface. At a time when many people feel squeamish about touching things, this will help make it easier for visitors to stay in compliance with hand sanitizing guidelines.

4. Have a plan in place if something goes wrong.

The novel coronavirus is tricky -- with the length of its incubation period and the number of asymptomatic carriers, it can be very difficult to tell who's carrying a threat and who isn't. Even the best-prepared facility might experience a case of COVID-19. Create a plan to address this before it happens. Make sure employees know how the virus is spread, understand the signs and symptoms, and have adequate sick leave. Check-in with your employees frequently, so you can address any concerns and adjust your policies and protocols as needed.

Right now, reopening is still very experimental, and there's a significant chance that businesses may need to temporarily close again. Create or confirm procedures that will allow you to close quickly if you need to. Set up building shutdown policies with your security department.

5. Increase visibility.

Chances are, your employees, tenants, and guests have some reservations about reopening. This is natural. Help put them at ease by increasing the visibility of your reopening procedures. Place signs reminding people of social distancing policies and the proper way to wash hands, apply hand sanitizer and use masks and gloves. Have workers clean while visitors are present to put guests' minds at ease. Send a letter to the building's occupants to let them know all of the steps you're taking to protect them.

While staying closed and unable to earn an income is frightening to employers and employees alike, reopening is very intimidating, too. Having a comprehensive, legally sound reopening procedure can go a long way to allaying these fears. Tighten cleanliness standards, update cleaning guidelines, put social distancing policies in place, and make sure employees and visitors alike know what's expected of them, and you'll be on the road to reopening.

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How Facilities Can Use Ultraviolet Light To Kill COVID-19

How Facilities Can Use Ultraviolet Light To Kill COVID-19

Most pathogens that infect humans or animals have a pretty narrow range of tolerance. Change the pH, moisture level, or amount of light in their environment, and they either die or can't reproduce. While there's a limit to how we can exploit this within the human body, disinfecting surfaces and objects is a lot less complicated. For managers looking to keep their facilities clean and sanitary, that's where ultraviolet light comes in.

How UV Light Kills Pathogens

Ultraviolet germicidal radiation kills pathogens using short-wavelength ultraviolet light (UVC). Though viruses aren't technically alive and therefore can't actually be killed, UVC damages their nucleic acids, inactivating them. This method can be used to effectively disinfect water, air, and even hard or soft surfaces.

The Drawbacks of UVC Disinfection

Anything that kills pathogens can also harm human or animal cells, so it's very important to follow certain safety considerations. UVC light should only be used in unoccupied rooms since it can damage eyes and skin. It also doesn't have a residual effect and can take a long time for maximum effectiveness -- sometimes an hour or more depending on the size of the room. This can make using UVC a challenge, but some companies are working on technology to make it faster, safer, and more convenient.

Far-UVC and Upper-room Devices

Since the main problem with UVC is that it can't be used in occupied spaces, researchers at Columbia University's Center for Radiological Research put forth the idea that far-UVC might be a safer option. Since far-UVC theoretically can't penetrate the skin, it should be able to kill or inactivate pathogens without causing harm to multicellular organisms. Several companies are working on prototyping far-UVC sanitizers, but FDA approval of this technology is still pending.

One alternative is upper-room ultraviolet disinfection. This uses UVC lighting placed seven feet above the floor, so it doesn't come in contact with the room's occupants. As the light kills viruses and bacteria in the air above, fans or other ventilation equipment mixes this cleaned air with contaminated air from below. This helps the light decrease the room's pathogen load. Since it still uses conventional UVC lighting, the fixtures must be turned off if anyone has to work near the ceiling in order to prevent cell damage.

Portable UV Devices

For most facilities that don't require clean room-levels of sanitation, there are portable devices on the market for disinfecting everything from cellphones, to rooms. Portable UV wands direct UV lighting down toward a surface, so they can be waved over desks, chairs, phones, anything else without too many nooks and crannies. These devices take a few seconds of exposure in order to be effective, so it's important to move them very slowly for the best results. It's also important for users to avoid looking directly at the light or pointing it at other people.

There are also UV lamps and bulbs that can disinfect entire rooms. Most of these are fixtures that simply need to be set up in a space, plugged in, and left alone. In about forty-five minutes to an hour, the pathogen load of the room will have significantly decreased. UV bulbs work much the same way but can be screwed into any conventional light fixture. Even if the light is unable to reach every corner or shadowed spot in a space, natural air movement will help ensure that the pathogen load is reduced as sanitized air mixes with contaminated air. As with other room-sized UV devices, these should only ever be used in unoccupied areas.

UV sterilizer boxes are similar to portable UV wands but in a container. Small items, like phones, pens, glasses, or other handheld objects can be placed inside and allowed to disinfect, without any potential for harm to anyone in the room. The box completely contains the light, so there's no danger of cellular damage outside.

The LightStrike Robot

Recently, the San Antonio-based robotics company Xenex Disinfection Services managed to prove that their Lightstrike Robot can sterilize a room contaminated with the novel coronavirus. The robot works by using xenon lamps that create bursts of intense light at brief intervals. To test it, researchers placed it in a lab where several surfaces had been contaminated with the virus that causes COVID-19. They allowed the robot to run at one, two, and five-minute intervals, testing the remaining amount of the virus after each. The results showed that it took the LightStrike robot about two minutes to inactivate 99.99% of the virus on both hard and soft surfaces. At the moment, the LightStrike robot costs about $100,000 to buy, but the company also provides leasing options.

Ultraviolet lighting can take care of bacteria and viruses -- even the virus that causes COVID-19 -- by damaging their nucleic acids. With a good ultraviolet device and some basic safety considerations, facility managers can take advantage of this to keep their businesses clean and employees and clients safe and happy.

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How Facility Managers Should Be Responding to Coronavirus

How Facility Managers Should Be Responding to Coronavirus

The emergence of any new disease is scary, especially when there's a lot of misinformation circulating about it. Right now, officials in the U.S. and overseas are talking about closing down schools and other public places in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), and it has facility managers rightfully concerned. Here's what you should be doing to help keep yourself, your employees, and your visitors safe:

Enforce hand washing protocols.

The news is full of stories about stores running out of antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer, and even masks, but the best defense against diseases like influenza and COVID-19 is regular old hand washing. Coronavirus is believed to be transmitted through contact with respiratory secretions. Train employees in proper handwashing techniques, post new signage as a reminder and make sure bathrooms are properly stocked with soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Encourage sick employees to stay home.

It's a sad fact that many people don't feel that they are able to stay home to rest when they are ill. Avoid scheduling any shifts that can't absorb a loss or two if someone needs some sick time, and make sure employees know that they can and should leave work or stay home if they begin experiencing upper respiratory symptoms. If sick employees insist on coming in anyway, send them home. The minor addition to productivity they would bring is not worth jeopardizing the rest of your employees, tenants, or visitors. This is especially true of workers in hospitals, nursing homes, or other areas with a high concentration of potentially vulnerable people.

Review sick leave policies.

One of the biggest reasons that sick people don't stay home is that they fear being penalized for doing so. Go over your company's sick leave and paid time off policies, and make sure that employees aren't in a position that disincentivizes reporting symptoms or responsibly taking sick leave. Put policies in place that cover furloughs or workplace closure.

Promote good coughing or sneezing hygiene.

If you are managing a store or office building, your visitors and tenants may not have the things they need to prevent infection, so provide them -- within reasonable expectations. Set up stations with hand sanitizer, disposable tissues, and a wastebasket, and keep them stocked and cleaned. If you are managing a hospital, keep stations stocked with masks, and post signage encouraging anyone with respiratory symptoms to use them. Masks don't protect the wearer very well, but they are excellent at protecting others from the wearer.

Go over cleaning procedures.

Contaminated surfaces can transmit illness when people touch them and then touch their eyes, mouths, or noses. Make sure your policies outline the procedure for sanitizing each area of the facility, what products need to be used, and protocol for avoiding cross-contamination. Make sure that any disinfectant products used have EPA-approved claims against bacteria and viruses of concern. There haven't been any tests specifically on COVID-19 yet, but the EPA's Emerging Virus Protocol offers information on products that are effective on similar pathogens.

Keep some extra inventory on hand.

It's not a good idea to hoard supplies, but it's reasonable to expect some supply chain disruption. Public health experts recommend that households have some extra non-perishable staples on hand in case of store closures or problems restocking, and this can be extrapolated to facilities, too. Take inventory on your most-used supplies, and stock 10-15% extra. It should be enough to get you through a minor disruption, but not enough to cause problems with purchasing or storage.

Keep tenants and employees informed.

Epidemics are frightening, and being kept in the dark only intensifies those fears. Keep tenants and employees up-to-date on the latest information and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, as well as all of the steps you are taking to protect their health. Go over employee and tenant contact information, and make sure it's up-to-date. If there isn't a good communication system already in place, set one up.

Train supervisors or other key employees in infection control and reporting.

As new cases of COVID-19 emerge, it's imperative to report exposures to local public health departments. Educate key employees in the potential impact of the virus, make sure they have easy access to relevant company policies, and give them the contact information for the public health authorities in your area.

Don't panic.

The media tends to sensationalize stories and play on the public's fears. Make sure you're getting your information from a reputable, expert source, and don't succumb to the temptation to panic. It isn't necessary to stockpile bottled water and food, and many of the most-frequently stockpiled items (like triclosan hand sanitizer and surgical masks) aren't effective against viruses anyway. Remember: Right now, the flu is a bigger threat than COVID-19. If the flu isn't triggering a panic, that shouldn't either.

When most companies plan for disasters, they think of tornadoes, fires, explosions, and floods. Illnesses can easily become emergencies, too, and it's vital that facility managers have policies in place to help mitigate the damage they can cause. By following these tips, you can keep your employees, tenants, and visitors safe, and business running smoothly.

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Designing Buildings For Minimum Maintenance

Designing Buildings For Minimum Maintenance

Maintenance contributes a significant amount to the cost of a building -- not only in terms of money but in terms of its carbon footprint. Facilities designed with efficiency in mind can help save money and emissions in the long run, but creating them can pose a bit of a challenge. Here are some ways you can balance efficiency, cost, and usability to develop buildings that require minimal maintenance:

1. Work with the right people.

Creating low-maintenance building designs involves taking a lot of external factors into account, including the way that different building materials respond to climate and weather patterns, and how end-users impact a building's maintenance needs. Your best bet is to work with architects and contractors who have experience with designing buildings with minimal upkeep in mind. Ask to see any certifications related to energy-efficient and low-maintenance design. Arrange a tour of one of their buildings that's at least ten years old. You'll have a much better idea of how your future project is likely to age, and what kind of upkeep it will require as it does.

2. Standardize wherever possible.

Experimenting can be very helpful when it works out, but, when it doesn't, it can be a costly mistake. Maintenance professionals generally prefer to standardize products and equipment to ensure that they're using what works and trimming down the number of product lines that have to be bought and inventoried. A lot of crucial items for a building's longevity can be standardized, including HVAC supplies, circuit breakers, paint, pumps, fans, tubing, tile, bulbs, and virtually anything that may require replacement. This reduces cost, cuts waste, and saves on training time. Discuss using standard products throughout the entire building with the contractor ahead of time.

3. Balance aesthetics and practicality.

In a perfect world, every building would be a modern showpiece that was easy and inexpensive to keep looking as good as the day it was opened. Unfortunately, aesthetic choices often conflict with maintenance needs. Lobbies that have tall ceilings with fancy light fixtures, for example, can mean shutting the entire lobby down for days while maintenance crews set up a scaffold, clean the fixture, and replace burned-out bulbs. Aesthetic choices that don't account for maintenance accessibility inevitably result in a lot of lost time and wasted money. Make sure that any equipment installed early on is able to be easily accessed by maintenance workers.

4. Don't forget the landscaping.

Maintenance doesn't end at the front door. Don't forget to consider how a building's exterior might influence its interior. For example, trees planted too close to buildings can cause problems when they inevitably grow, like foundation damage, roofing damage, and clogged gutters and downspouts. Choosing landscaping plants that aren't native to an area can also add to the maintenance load when it comes time to water them and amend the soil.

5. Consider the long game.

Building or renovating a facility is expensive, and it can be tempting to try to save money on things like flooring or light fixtures. Unfortunately, this often ends up being a bit of a false economy -- for a higher initial cost, you can end up saving money over the life of the product. Cheaper flooring that needs to be replaced in 10 years isn't a good deal when compared to more expensive flooring with a 25-year lifespan.

6. Bring your maintenance crew on board.

If you aren't one of the people directly responsible for maintaining a building, it can be difficult to see a design from that perspective. Make sure maintenance crews are part of the design or renovation process because they can offer valuable input about what it will actually take to keep a hypothetical building running smoothly. They can point out future trouble spots, allowing you to fix them before they become an expensive mistake.

7. Make sure you have local support.

You've got a new building with a brand new HVAC system, and everything looks good. There's only one problem -- the system you chose doesn't have any local vendors for replacement parts, filters, or other needs. This means that you have to keep spare parts on hand yourself or have them shipped in with an additional cost and downtime while you wait for them to arrive. When you're deciding what kind of equipment a facility needs, consider vendor support as part of your maintenance outlook.

Whether you're looking to design a new building or renovate an old one, limiting maintenance costs should be part of your plan. By working with contractors well versed in low-maintenance building, balancing appearance and practicality, and including your maintenance crew in the design or renovation process, you can create a building that maximizes efficiency while minimizing ongoing costs.

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How to Choose a High-Quality Paint

How to Choose a High-Quality Paint

Regardless of what the application is, the paint quality you choose for your facility is important. Choosing the right paint starts with acknowledging the differences between low-quality and high-quality paints, and understanding why paint quality matters.

Disadvantages of Cheap Paint

  1. While low-quality paint may be cheaper, make no mistake that it comes with hidden costs. The pigments involved in their formulas often don’t work to enhance color and coverage, and therefore require that more than one coat be applied. This means you’ll need to purchase more cans of paint for your project.
  2. Also, low-quality paint doesn’t last very long. It simply isn’t as durable as higher-quality paint is, and will fade, crack or peel after just a few years.

Advantages of High-Quality Paint

  1. High-quality paint consists of ingredients that result in a smoother, longer-lasting application. You won’t have to worry about having to repaint every year due to regular wear, which is particularly helpful in high-traffic areas of a facility. High-quality paint formulas are specially made to hold up against fading, cracking and peeling, and in all types of environmental conditions.
  2. The pigmentation in high-quality paint is better than in low-quality paints, which means you won’t need as many coats. The better the pigments, the smaller and purer they are – which means high-quality paint offers more coverage, color, and depth to your paint job. Whether it’s an old color or imperfections you’re painting over, these pigments help the paint to more easily conceal what you want to conceal.
  3. High-quality paints include only the best binders (or resins), which help the product to adhere to every surface properly from the start, thus increasing durability. Good binders also keep paint from peeling, cracking, and blistering; fading and chalking; and from scuffing and fingerprints.
  4. Paints that are higher in quality can also protect against mildew, mold, and spoilage.

Assessing Your Project and Factors to Consider When Selecting Paint

You may be wondering, considering the many paint formulas available, how to determine which is a quality paint suitable for a given application? It’s always a good idea to start the process by looking at past performance. If you’re repainting an area, what brand and type of paint were used there before? How long did it hold up for? 

However, you’ll also want to consider that paint manufacturers often adjust their paint formulas in order to improve performance or reduce costs. So, how do you assess your project’s paint needs should that happen? There are four factors to look at to help you ensure that your paint selection is high-quality:

Factor #1: Price

While the price is not an absolute guarantee, you can trust that it is typically a good indicator of quality. Generally speaking, the higher the quality of paint, the higher its price. This is because more expensive paints tend to contain ingredients that are of better quality, and usually contain a higher volume of solids.

Factor #2: Percentage of Solids

As the paint dries and the liquid evaporates, what’s left on the surface are known as solids. The percentage of solids contained in a can of paint is in direct ratio to the thickness and quality of the protective paint film. Lower-grade latex paints will typically contain about 20-30% solids by volume and 79-80% water, while higher-grade latex paints will generally be 35-50% solids.  Keep your eye out for the latter, with the knowledge that the higher the percentage of solids is, the higher the quality of the paint is.

Factor #3: Prime Pigments

Pigments are finely ground particles that are dispensed into the paint and provide color and hiding properties. Certain pigments, known as “prime” pigments, provide better coverage. Look for paints that contain titanium dioxide; the highest quality prime pigment.

Factor #4: Concentration of Binders

You’ll want to look for paints that contain a higher percentage of binders, as the higher the percentage, the more the paint will be resistant to cracking and peeling. A pigment-volume concentrate value of 45% is considered to be the optimum level for most applications.

A Final Note

When evaluating paint options, a good rule of thumb is to remember that you can contact the paint manufacturer. They will be able to tell you anything you need to know about the paint’s formula and ingredients, be it types of pigments and binders used, percentage of solids, and what other additives it might contain.

Finally, rest assured that there are existing organizations that have developed evaluation and rating procedures for paint, and have set standard requirements for content and testing procedures that manufacturers must adhere to if their paint is to be certified as meeting that standard. These organizations include ANSI, ASTM, Green Seal, and the Master Painters Institute. For more information, you can contact these organizations with any specific questions you may have about paints you may be considering.

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How to Prevent Slips and Falls in Your Facility

How To Prevent Slips and Falls in Your Facility

Facilities with high-traffic areas, such as schools, healthcare, and commercial facilities, are the most at risk for people taking a sudden slip, trip, or fall. According to the National Safety Council, these types of mishaps lead to the most costly types of injuries as they’re not only the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims, they also represent the primary cause of lost days from work due to an accident.

While the risk for these accidents may be increased by human factors, such as age, failing eyesight, and other mobility impairments (such as using a cane or a walker), it’s important for facility managers to note the non-human factors that reflect accident-prone statistics: floor surfaces.

Floors and flooring materials contribute to more than 2 million fall injuries per year, usually due to them becoming wet from leaks, spills, snow, rain, mud, wet leaves, and other floor contaminations. Thankfully, these issues are easily preventable with the implementation of a tight floor maintenance problem. So, while you may not be able to control the weather or how people walk, you can start by identifying problem areas in order to minimize the chance for slips, trips, and falls.

The Five “Danger Zones”

Lobbies. As a welcome space, lobby areas tend to be shiny and attractive -- but this doesn’t come without a cost. Lobbies are often buffed and waxed, in an effort to offer optimal appeal for visitors and workers. Also, as the point of entry, lobbies are often subject to shoes, umbrellas, and the debris that both track in.

Breakrooms/cafeterias. As a space where food and beverages are prepared and consumed, spills are more likely to occur. Coffee machine areas are especially susceptible to drips and spills, where occupants tend to pass through with uncovered mugs full of the hot beverage.

Restrooms. It goes without saying that wherever there is water, there is an increased risk for slips, trips, and falls. Restroom floors are subject to becoming wet in numerous ways – everything from the slightest hand-dripping, to overflowing sinks and toilets, and plumbing problems.

Piping. Corrosion and wear can cause piping to leak. Preventative maintenance is key when it comes to piping, especially if it’s in close proximity to where occupants are.

Roof. Both cold or inclement weather can make any roof vulnerable to leaks. On top of that, buckets that are left on floors to collect liquid from roof leaks are also susceptible to being tripped over by a distracted occupant.

Five Tips to Prevent Accidents

Fortunately, there are several ways that facility managers can plan ahead in order to prevent these various flooring/area hazards:

Watch the Weather. Preparation for storms, snow, rain, or any other weather event that could leave debris on your facilities’ floors is of utmost Have signs handy to make building occupants aware of potential hazards, and have floor blowers on hand to dry up rain water.

Use Matting for Liquid Absorption. Floor matting can help absorb water and other liquid debris. However, matting comes with its own set of hazards. Avoid matting that gaps, wrinkles, or easily moves around. Ideally, your matting should have an adhesive backing to keep the mat flat and in place.

Analyze Past Problem Areas. Examine any previous slip or fall claims and use them as a map to help you identify high-risk zones in your facility, or to help you determine primary areas for potential hazards. By looking at “root cause” errors of the past, you can help to ensure a safer present and future.

Use Proper Cleaning Aides. Be sure to purchase the right cleaner for the right contaminant and floor surface. For example, what you use on tile may be quite different than what you’d use on wood or concrete. Work with your janitorial supply company to determine which chemicals are best to use on the various surfaces of your facility. In addition, be sure to carefully read the directions on all chemical products in order to use these cleaners correctly. Take special note of any dilution ratios and water temperatures required.

Have a Floor Maintenance Management Program in Place. An established program is an important preparation tool for proper floor maintenance. Your program should include ways to properly store cleaning products and equipment, training staff, regular floor inspections that are shared with supervisors, and specific procedures and protocols for various areas.

Slippery flooring is unsafe for building occupants and can turn into expensive claims for your facility. Getting ahead of these potential problems can go a long way to eliminate risk, and make for an all-around safer, happier workplace for everyone.

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Facility Manager Tips For Designing and Maintaining Restrooms

Restroom Maintenance

Restrooms are an integral part of a well-run facility. Whether you're dealing with a building's employees or its clientele, everyone will need to take a bathroom break at some point in the day. Poorly designed or maintained restrooms aren't just unpleasant for people to use, they can negatively impact their perceptions of the facility itself. Don't let that happen to you -- keep these three things in mind when you're dealing with bathrooms.

1. Standardize, standardize, standardize.

Nothing is worse than having to use a restroom that doesn't have adequate supplies. When fixtures aren't standardized across an entire facility, it can make it more difficult for staff to keep things adequately stocked. Toilet paper, paper towel, and soap dispensers should all be of the same type, so you won't have to worry about staying on top of ordering refills for multiple different makes and models. This will also help save money over the long run, by allowing you to order large quantities at a bulk rate.

2. Plan for traffic.

When it comes to designing restrooms, the biggest mistake you can make is to fail to take traffic into account. Some finishes may be attractive, but not durable enough to hold up to heavy use without beginning to look worn and shabby. Corian, for example, is becoming a popular choice for partitions due to its durability over metal or composite. Placing groups of restrooms in high traffic areas allows them to be serviced by a centrally-located supply closet. If space allows, restroom plans an even allow for a maintenance corridor that will let facility employees perform regular maintenance without cluttering up high-traffic hallways.

3. Keep them bright (but not too bright).

No matter how well-maintained a restroom may be, poor lighting will make it look dirty and dated. Lighting that is too bright will make it unpleasant for users, as well as wasting power. Choose energy-efficient bulbs and ballasts -- standard fluorescent ballasts typically use 14-16 watts, while energy efficient electronic ballasts use as little as 8 -- and set up an automated lighting system. This will ensure that lights are only on when they're needed, and don't waste power when they aren't. Place fixtures in areas where they'll be easy to access, and avoid choosing spots where they will be partially blocked by door or partitions.

Keeping restrooms clean.

Do you know what maintenance employees have to say about cleaning public bathrooms? 80% consider it a difficult job and cite a lack of time and too much foot traffic as the biggest contributing factors -- two things that can be mitigated by proper planning. The scary part here is that restroom maintenance consists of both cleaning for looks, and cleaning for safety. An overwhelming majority of cleaning professionals (94%) claim to rely on product use information to train their employees, but 15% of those same employees say that a lack of training makes their jobs more difficult, and nearly 70% of professionals say that their staff doesn't understand disinfection or sanitization. A simple wipe-down might be enough to keep a countertop or faucet looking clean, but is it really enough to make it hygienic?

To keep public bathrooms really clean, it's vital that facility managers develop their own training and standard procedures, and train their employees in basic disinfection and sanitization best practices. Coupled with bathrooms designed with cleanliness and ease of maintenance in mind, this alone should be enough to make sure restrooms say looking fresh and hygienic while cutting down on the public health risks posed by restroom germs.

People generally don't spend more than a few minutes at a time in the bathroom, but those few minutes can create a big impression. By choosing durable finishes, locating bathrooms where they can be easily reached for maintenance, and making sure employees have the tools, supplies, and knowledge they need to keep them sanitized and well-stocked, facility managers can make sure that their restrooms always look and feel their best.

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The Many Benefits of Ground Maintenance

The Many Benefits of Ground Maintenance

It may be easy to discount mowing, raking, pruning, and other upkeep of your commercial property as irrelevant and unimportant chores. However, it actually does have critical consequences for your building. You may commit yourself fully to high-quality lawn care by discovering how it benefits your Long Island building’s appearance, safety, and cost efficiency.

Increased Revenue

Having a well-kept landscape for your Long Island business can significantly increase its revenue and profitability. In fact, one study showed that effective lawn care can increase rental rates in a commercial building by as much as seven percent. Further, respondents to the survey reported being willing to spend as much as 10 percent more on products and services if a building in Long Island and elsewhere had high-quality tree canopies and other landscaping features.

Moreover, people surveyed about how important landscaping is to where they shop or do business at responded that would be willing to travel greater distances to businesses that had well-kept properties. They also would spend more time at these commercial districts if the properties were well groomed and visually appealing.

Reduced Heating and Cooling Costs

Effective landscaping can also make a significant impact on your building’s utility costs. During the summer, for example, you may spend thousands of dollars keeping the building at a cool and constant temperature. However, the sun and heat streaming in through windows can make your efforts more challenging during the hottest times of the year.

When you plant and maintain trees that can grow and provide shading to the building, you provide a natural barrier against the heat and sunlight. The shade from the trees can help keep the building’s interior cooler during the hottest months of summer. In turn, you spend less money on air conditioning bills.

Likewise, well thought out landscaping can keep your building warm in the winter. Shrubs planted along the bottoms of windows and along the foundation can keep heat in during the cold winter season. Vegetation planted strategically along the bottom level of the building can act as insulation when the weather is at its coldest.

Improve Safety

Vegetation like shrubs, flower beds, and small trees can also provide a safety barrier for your commercial property. When you plant them under and along the windows on the building’s ground level, you make it more difficult for burglars and trespassers to break into the building. They may be unable to climb over the vegetation to breach the windows and gain access to the business. 

Along with installing a security alarm for your building, you can also discourage break-ins by planting strategic vegetation like cacti, flowering shrubs, and thorn bushes under and along windows. Trespassers may decide the effort is not worth the risk of breaking into the business.

Improve Mental Health

Attractive landscaping can also improve the mental health of people who work or do business within the building. Studies have shown that visually appealing gardens significantly reduce stress levels in people. It also improves health outcomes of patients who can see these gardens from the windows of hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other medical facilities. 

Given the positive impact of beautiful landscaping on people’s mental health, facilities managers have seen an increased demand for gardens for hospitals and healthcare facilities. FMs can play a key role in lowering stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions in people who visit their buildings. 

Noise Reduction

Finally, practical lawn care can reduce the amount of noise that comes in and out of your building. Trees, shrubs, and flower beds can absorb noise pollution and prevent it from going into the building or out into the neighborhood. When noise levels are a concern, you can effectively minimize them by planting vegetation like trees, shrubs, and more around your commercial property.

As a facilities manager, you have the responsibility to maintain your property’s lawn and garden areas. You can appreciate this task even more by realizing the positive impact it has on numerous facets of your building.

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Keeping a Facility Running During Expansion or Renovation

Keeping a Facility Running During Expansion or Renovation

Most buildings at some point need to undergo renovations or expansions. Few older buildings can accommodate the hectic pace and increased volume of today's consumers. They must be renovated and expanded in order to serve the public better.

When you plan on renovating or expanding the building in which your own organization or company is located, you might wonder how you can remain open for business without impeding the construction projects. By keeping these tips in mind, you could keep your doors open while meeting the demands of your public and still affording the construction crew the room they need in which to work.

Coordinating Your Daily Operations around Construction

During the renovation or expansion work, you will need to figure out how to run your organization or business without getting in the way of the construction workers. If possible, you could simply relocate some or all of your business's operations to another part of the building. If you have rooms in the building currently not being used, you could move your employees, equipment, and other daily operations to these areas while allowing the construction crew to work in parts of the building where you normally have operations set up.

If you cannot completely relocate to another part of the building, you may need to do mini-relocations during the expansions or renovating. While one hallway or corner of the building is being worked on, you could have your employees share office spaces until the work in that part is finished. You can continue in this way until all of the construction work is done.

If it is impossible to relocate even small areas of the building during the construction work, you may need to ask the remodelers to do their work during the evening hours or on the weekends. This accommodation would allow you to continue to run your business during normal working hours and remain completely out of the way during the after hours when the construction crew is on site.

Reasons to Stay Open during the Work

You might wonder if it is best for you just to shut down during the construction project. Depending on the industry in which your business or organization operates, you may not be able to and may even be required by law to keep your doors open.

For example, if yours is the only hospital or medical clinic in the county, you may not be able to safely close your doors until the remodeling work is finished. Patients who come to your facility for care could experience dire illnesses that could put their health at risk. In this instance, you could incur fines or penalties from government regulators and the state medical board if you shut down during the construction.

Likewise, if you run a school, you cannot really shut your doors during the school year. By law, students have to be educated. They cannot transfer to another school until your building is renovated. You have to remain in operation even while the work is ongoing.

Finally, if you are a business owner, you may not be able to afford to shut down if you want to continue to make a profit. You still have bills and employees to pay. How can you do that when the doors of your business are closed and you have no money coming in? Staying open during construction work is the only way you can generate revenue. 

Hiring a Contractor

You might be able to minimize the amount of time you have to coexist with a construction crew by vetting contractors for the job thoroughly first. Before you hire one to do the renovation and expansion work, you may want to find out details like:

  • Whether or not the contractor has done projects like yours before
  • What kind of network of subcontractors the contractor has access to
  • How flexible the contractor's work plans can be if your business or customer demands change
  • How the contractor can make future renovations or expansions seamless


These details can let you know if the contractor can get the work done in a timely manner and accommodate you as a building owner.

Expansions and renovations are part and parcel of owning and operating a business or organization in most buildings today. At some point, you may need to hire a construction crew to make improvements to your building. You can outlast the projects by knowing how to coexist alongside a renovation crew and how to hire a contractor who is qualified for the work.

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