3 Strategies That Contribute To Occupant Health
Contributed by Brian Miller, business support specialist at milliCare Floor & Textile Care
The pandemic has brought an increased focus on wellness and safety. People want to know that the buildings they inhabit are healthy places to be. In response, facility executives are relying more and more on building health audits to show occupants they take their wellness seriously.
With audit results in hand, these facility executives can better address and assuage occupant concerns. They can also differentiate their properties from others by showing their commitment to being responsive as their occupants’ needs evolve.
What does this mean for building service contractors? It means developing the necessary skills to properly assess a space and understand how cleaning services contribute to occupant health. Building service contractors can use the following strategies to perform building health audits and help facility managers ensure the safety and wellness of their occupants.
1. Conduct routine spot checks on carpeted and high-touch areas.
Spot checking well-trafficked and frequently utilized areas is a proven first line of defense in staying on top of a building’s overall health. Start by conducting a simple carpet filtration test. Remember, carpets function as indoor air filters, but they can only improve indoor air quality if they’re clean.
Grab a vacuum with a clean canister and suck up debris from a 4-by-4-foot area. How much dry debris appears in the canister? If it’s a lot, the carpet is holding onto too much excess soil, which means it isn’t effectively filtering airborne pollutants like bacteria and volatile organic compounds. This is a potential long-term problem because it can lower indoor air quality ratings.
This fast exercise helps BSCs determine if an indoor environment is as healthy as it can be. As managers walk around the building, they can also spot-check doorknobs, handrails and similar high-touch surfaces. If a lot of soil is visible, use a clean rag and check it for soil transfer. Then, make decisions on how to reduce soil or cleaning product buildup.
2. Know the chemicals in the products being used.
The chemicals used to sanitize and disinfect the property can also impact the facility’s occupants. Be sure the team is using appropriate chemicals and provide facility executives with a complete list of the disclosed ingredients in those products.
Look to governing bodies to determine whether trustworthy chemicals are being used. For example, Green Seal certifies products for health, sustainability and performance. If cleaning is being done in a cafeteria setting or other areas where food is present, check that products are food safe.
Make sure everyone involved understands how to interpret a product’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS), as well. Each SDS has 16 sections, but it’s important to focus specifically on the pictograms and signal words. Pictograms are an easy-to-read and self-explanatory way to determine the safety of a product. With a deeper understanding of the SDS, managers can confidently relay information to facility customers.
3. Check for a system to report and communicate about building health concerns.
Many facility customers have systems for reporting and recording cleaning. It could be a shared spreadsheet available online to BSCs and building tenants or a logbook that technicians can use to note with their initials and timestamp where and when they cleaned certain areas.
The transparent recording indicates to facility customers that the cleaning team is serious about creating healthier spaces. BSCs can also set up a text or email hotline for facility managers to report building health concerns and notify management in real time, so there is never a missed opportunity to provide more support. This happens a lot with school districts or preschools through a text line.
Consider setting up regular meetings to discuss building health with facility executives and other stakeholders, as well. Use this forum as a chance to talk about the current and anticipated measures being created to protect the building’s assets and occupants. It’s a good idea to also make it virtual so more people can attend.
With an increased focus on health over the past two years, it’s clear to facility managers and building occupants that healthier spaces promote healthier people. BSCs can stand out as a trustworthy and reliable partner by knowing how to audit buildings for health and safety.