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Relying on Science and Health Data: The Critical Balance to Safely Reentering the Workforce

Reopening the nation’s businesses will require a uniform approach by building operators, infrastructure employees, and local and state officials under the safety guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To help with reopening, the National Institute of Building Sciences hosted a COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall, “Preparing for Reentering Buildings,” on May 7.  More than 1,800 registrants attended to hear the panel discussion; the panel included representatives from the Building Owners & Managers Association, the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, and architects and engineers.

There are a number of complex issues that should be considered as part of a reentering strategy:

  • Proper hygiene and handwashing, social distancing and face coverings in public areas remain critical. Office seating density must be thinned out.
  • Elevators should not exceed more than four people at a time, depending on the size of the elevator cab.
  • Companies should perform an audit of the HVAC system, making improvements where necessary. If possible, increase outdoor air ventilation and reduce recycled air flow.
  • Buildings that have sat empty must flush stagnant water and replace it with fresh utility water.
  • When it comes to transportation and transit systems, cleaning must be accomplished in concert with disinfection. Social distancing and face coverings remain the best ways to avoid virus transfer.


Different businesses will have different needs, and each must be in a position to empower employees to perform work in a safe and healthy atmosphere.


Click here to view the recording and see the session notes of the virtual town hall.

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