Building and Premises Safety

In response to growing concerns, Honeywell conducted a study on workers’ perceptions and feelings on the health and safety of their workplace. A staggering majority of the global workforce (68%) does not feel completely safe working in their employer’s buildings. This number is even higher for those working remotely (75%), who are especially sceptical about the safety of work sites. In fact, nearly one in four remote workers (23%) would look for a new job rather than return to a site that did not implement the necessary safety measures.

The November 2020 study surveyed 2,000 workers who typically work in buildings with 500 or more employees across the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and the Middle East. Further details can be found here.

“More than half of surveyed workers (54%) agree that their building management has not taken the steps necessary to keep them safer on the job, and 60% believe their building is more likely to make short-term changes in response to the pandemic versus long-term investments in building systems. Surveyed workers are most worried that building management won’t consistently enforce health and safety guidelines (42%), followed by worry that they won’t consistently invest in new technology to make working in person safer (30%).”

In order to get employees happily back into the workplace, employers need to start thinking more about building design and systems, and how this will support the future of the workplace. Below, we look at a new building standard that businesses may wish to consider and explore what the workplace may look like in the future.

Immune Standard

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the IMMUNE Building Standard™ (IMMUNE™) is the first, open-source global certification standard to certify a built environment’s level of immunity to withstand present and future health challenges and minimise the impact of a pandemic such as Covid-19 and other bacteriological or toxicological threats.

Features in such buildings include:

  • IMMUNE™ stewards within each building to implement and monitor activities.
  • Quarantine room – a specially designed, fully equipped, and ready-to-use area in case of an immediate need to isolate any exposed people.
  • An emergency warehouse – contriving a rapid and effective relief logistic system for pandemic response, containing specific protective materials, including PPE.
  • Digital Twin technology – digital screens placed in receptions to display immunity-boosting indicators such as daily improvement of indoor air quality in comparison to outside air, water parameters vs. the water source received from the city network etc.
  • Different measures imposed by the IMMUNE™ steward and relevant information related to the good functioning of IMMUNE™ equipment throughout the building displayed on digital screens.

Other elements include:

  • Built-in technologies to enhance the sanitisations of indoor spaces in the prevention of bacteria, viruses, and toxins spreading.
  • Bathrooms to be fully equipped with bio sanitisers and urinal and WC hygiene flushing system.
  • Ozone space and water treatment.
  • Walls covered with antimicrobial paint proven to prevent bacteria as well as mould and mildew growth.
  • Rounded corners to minimize bacterial deposits in toilet cubicles.
  • Crowded areas such as meeting rooms, cafeterias or break-out rooms to be fitted with high-class filters for the intake air.

Full information can be found here.

The Future of the Workplace

In August 2020, BBC News published an article on what our future offices and homes may look like with changes in technology and design. The article suggested we are likely to see some significant changes in our workplace, including the introduction of:

  • Thermal body scanners
  • Voice-activated technology to reduce touch points (e.g. lifts)
  • Wider corridors/passageways to encourage social distancing
  • Antimicrobial materials used in furniture and surfaces
  • Use of copper for handles (copper is a naturally microbe-repelling material)
  • UV light in air conditioning systems to kill pathogens

Ultimately, living through a global pandemic and multiple lockdowns will have a significant effect on the way we work and our workplaces. Even once the vaccine is fully rolled out to the whole population, we should expect to see some changes that will help employees get back to their desks safely. This may be basic changes such as discouraging sick employees to come to work or, on the other end of the spectrum, upgrading building designs that put good hygiene at the centre of plans.

It remains unclear exactly how our workplaces will look in the future, but it is important businesses start to consider new requirements and modifications they will need to introduce to support their employees’ return to the workplace.

To find out more about how the Aston Lark Risk Management team can support you in your return to work, please contact Eliot Clarke at [email protected].