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Tips For Coping With Facility Closure

Tips For Coping With Facility Closure

Social distancing is the most effective way to slow, and hopefully eventually stop, the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, as more social distancing policies are put in place, facilities are closing for weeks at a time.

There are right ways and wrong ways to deal with closing a facility. Here are a few tips to help you handle safely closing your facility, and staying productive during its downtime:

1. Perform risk assessments beforehand

If your facility is subject to the EPA's rules for facility closures, you will need to perform a risk assessment to determine what, if any, issues may come into play. You will also need to find ways to contain or dispose of any hazardous waste, and ensure that there is a strategy in place to keep that waste safely contained. This is primarily a consideration for businesses that are subject to closure with waste in place, or "closure as a landfill," but a risk assessment is a good idea for anyone getting ready to close up for an extended period of time.

2. Work on preventing burglary or vandalism

Make sure your building's cameras, security systems, and backup power supplies are in good working order. If you can, board up windows and doors to prevent vandalism. Ensure that any and all cash is removed, if applicable, leaving drawers open and visibly empty. Remove or secure any items that might attract an opportunistic theft. Thieves may take this chance to try to break in and steal any equipment that's been left behind during the closure, so try to stay one step ahead, keep your security airtight, and reduce your facility's appeal to burglars.

3. Take care of perishable items

If your facility includes a food prep area, discuss proper disposal methods with your cooks or food service director. Contact local food pantries or other charitable efforts and see if they would be willing to accept donations of any unused food. This can help keep it from going to waste and help people struggling with food insecurity at the same time. If you can, cancel or reduce any regularly scheduled deliveries of perishable items.

4. Perform a good, thorough deep clean

Even if your facility isn't closed yet, the dramatic slowdowns many businesses are seeing makes this a great time to get a jump on spring maintenance. If you have any maintenance projects that you've had to put off, now is also the time to get working. Follow the EPA's guidelines on virucidal cleaners, and give the whole facility a deep clean and sanitization -- pay extra attention to surfaces, doorknobs, and other areas that are the most at risk of droplet contamination.

5. Double-check HVAC systems

Deep cleaning and maintenance can increase the indoor air pollution levels of a building, especially if you need to resort to heavy-duty cleaning agents. A good HVAC system should be able to return your facility to its baseline within twenty-four hours. Make sure your facility's HVAC system has new (or clean) filters, no leaking ducts, and isn't waiting on any deferred maintenance. The last thing you'll want to deal with after re-opening is increased indoor air pollution and HVAC maintenance.

6. Examine your automated tasks

Chances are, the automated parts of your facility were set up with its occupants' schedules in mind. If they aren't going to be there, you may end up with automated tasks going on and off for no reason, wasting power and inventory. Double-check your facility's automated tasks with a view to adjusting them to account for the closure. You may want to reduce their frequency or stop them completely for the time being.

7. Communicate with your tenants

While you're performing all of this work behind the scenes, your occupants are busy with their own responses to the pandemic. Make sure to stay in touch, let them know what you're doing to make sure your facility is kept clean and safe, and keep them abreast of any changes you'll be making to the decor or functionality. This will help boost their confidence in your facility, and allow them to voice any concerns or suggestions that they may have.

When you manage the day-to-day operations that keep a facility running, it's hard to see it close -- even when that closure is necessary and appropriate. These tips can help ensure that your facility stays clean, safe, and in good working order, no matter how long you need to keep the doors closed.

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