Can you catch the coronavirus disease from sharing food with a coworker? What should you do if you accidentally brushed shoulders against someone at work? Mundane chores at the workplace have turned into a never-ending source of anxiety and uncertainty as processing facilities grappe to keep the ball rolling while also ensuring everyone is safe and healthy.
On top of that, the widespread misconceptions and fake news about the virus puts everyone at risk and only adds to the stress.
Researches have shown that the COVID-19 virus can transmit through direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected individual – for instance, through coughing, sneezing, and touching surfaces that’s been contaminated with the virus.
To make matters worse, studies claim that viruses can live on the surface for several days at a time.
And while the world may come to a standstill due to the pandemic, processing facilities producing essential goods simply cannot afford to. So, to help all brave frontliners working in processing facilities all over the world, we have researched and compiled the latest expert information on tips to design a hygienic processing facility in the COVID era.
Enhanced Indoor Air Quality
COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of clean air by many folds in the last 2 years. Well-designed, positioned, and monitored mechanical and plumbing systems will ensure a healthy indoor environment that’s able to filter, dilute, and remove pathogens from the indoor breathing zone.
Likewise, ventilation systems will pull small dust particles towards themselves, which in turn will collect at the end of the duct. As a result, you can safely remove the collected dust later.
Whether it’s as simple as installing extractor fans or applying the principles of thermodynamics and physics, improving indoor air quality should be on the top of your list to design a hygienic processing facility in the COVID times.
Don’t cut corners when it comes to conducting air quality assessments and designing a facility that can improve ventilation effectiveness of the existing systems. If you think your current status of air quality and ventilation isn’t good enough to meet the precaution guidelines of the pandemic, you can always consult with experts and make necessary upgrades.
Rethink Hand Washing Infrastructure
Soap and water. Wash, wash, wash your hands! Yes, you hear them everywhere. That’s because this is the best line of defence. Everyone should religiously wash their hands with soap and clean water for 20-30 seconds several times a day as needed.
If you don’t facilitate proper handwashing for your workers, there’s no point in spending thousands of dollars to reevaluate other safety measurements of your facility. That being said, handwashing should be approached as both an infrastructure issue as well as a behavioral one.
Make sure to strategically position the hand-washing infrastructure, including space clearance between sinks, limited touch points to optimally reduce all the possibilities of pathogen transmission.
Also, don’t ignore seemingly small things like water temperature and pressure to support proper handwashing.
As for behavioral strategies, you can address them by installing automatically controlled/sensor-based faucets to run for the recommended 20-30 seconds of handwashing time.
Likewise, you can also place lights over the siks to offer a visual cue on timing.
Since the coronavirus transmits more easily on wet surfaces, don’t forget to stock on paper towels and ensure proper functioning of hand dryers.
As for the long term, you should carry out water quality and hand-washing infrastructure assessment by having professionals test and build audits.
Mental Health Support Design
The most overlooked tide brought by the pandemic is mental health issues in millions of people across the world. Researchers have warned that the fear and stress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic will echo through many generations to come.
The fear of leaving home, the safest place, and coming to work where one can be infected is already a painful situation. On top of that, adapting to the strain of changing work-life balance can create long-lasting trauma.
Thus, harnessing the power of design to give workers a space to promote their psychological recovery is crucial.
From a design perspective, for this, you can apply biophilic design principles that have been proven to have an immediate and positive impact on mental health.
On the operational front, don’t forget to introduce protocols and organizational polices, like Mental Health Day, can help curb the fear of leaving home, infection, and so on.
It is critical to understand the risks and safety that come with processing facilities as facility workers come to the work. It goes without saying that the early identification of worksite hazards and evaluation of the potential risks will support the application of the right precautions and controls.
Especially in the post COVID-19 workplace reality, preventing harm to the workers is the key point to strengthening human resilience to fight the disaster.
To maintain the utmost industrial hygiene, you can use dust control curtains that work as barrier between workers and specialized processes. It helps to isolate the dust in the controlled environment.
Another excellent investment would be free-standing mobile clean rooms that can help to better divide and systematize the workflow of any facility to maintain optimum hygiene.
As cashflow is bound to be tight for some time post-COVID, mobile clean rooms also help to save energy and reduce bills drastically.
Other equally great options that will help you redesign your industrial facility in a safe and hygienic way are strip doors and double-layered curtains.
Retro Condition Assessments And Retro-Commissioning
Retro-commissioning refers to the systematic process created to improve and enhance an existing building’s performance. When it is applied to the older buildings, it helps to detect the deficiencies, uncover issues, and offer valuable recommendations for sound and economic solutions for rectification.
Retro-commissioning has never been more important than it is today. Facility administrators need reliable data and sound guidance to make the immediate prudent decisions that will help to safeguard the health of their employees.
However, it’s important to note that this is not a one-size-fits-all approach.
And there’s no better time to conduct a retro-commissioning than today – as the head count in facilities is significantly lower than what it used to be. Some common actions following retro-commissioning are implementation of materials that are durable and can be easily cleaned, installation of negative air systems to prevent infection spread, and removal of mold and asbestos.