Commercial Office Building Operating Guidelines
These guidelines are effective as updated on June 29, 2020 in St. Louis County. In accordance with the St. Louis County Department of Public Health’s (“DPH’s”) Second Amended Order Business and Individual Guidelines for Social Distancing and Re-Opening dated June 26, 2020 and effective June 29, 2020 (the “Order”), these guidelines may be replaced or modified by DPH based on new scientific information and local information including the trajectory of influenza-like illnesses, cases of COVID- 19, and any other information deemed relevant to protect public health in St. Louis County.
As St. Louis County returns to the workplace after several months, it is critical that precautionary measures are followed to continue the success that mitigation efforts have had on the spread of COVID-19.
This document provides guidelines for business owners and managers of commercial buildings as they prepare for their tenants to return to the workplace. The most effective tool for preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus is physical distancing, but there are other proven successful measures that can reduce transmission and ensure a safe workplace.
The recommendations contained herein do not supersede Public Health orders, laws, or regulations that apply to your business and jurisdiction.
There are a number of strategies that can be implemented to in the workplace, including:
- Elimination strategies: removing the virus, for example by educating employees about disinfection processes and social distancing requirements.
- Substitution strategies: restructuring work expectations, such as allowing remote work.
- Engineering controls: which means creating physical barriers or implementing other design measures to promote physical spacing.
IMPLEMENTING STRATEGIES IN THE COMMERCIAL BUILDING CONTEXT
Reduce Face-to-Face Contact
- Whenever possible, have employees work from home.
- Restructure employee responsibilities and stagger work schedules to minimize the number of employees who need to be physically present at any one time.
- Arrange for contactless payment, pick-up, and delivery options whenever feasible and provide postings as to the availability of such services.
- Require frequent sanitation of all high touch surfaces, such as restrooms, shared computers, and any other areas that may be frequently touched by customers, employees, or any other individuals.
- Provide breaks for employees to wash their hands throughout the day.
Require Face Coverings
- Face coverings are required in any public place. Employers must provide face coverings or supplies to make face coverings to all employees working in their facilities.
- Require employees to wear face masks at work, unless the employee or volunteer is working alone in an enclosed area or has a medical reason not to wear one.
- Interior and exterior signs must clearly indicate the requirement for face coverings.
- Limit the number of employees, customers, and other people who are permitted to be in the building, especially in areas where individuals may congregate at any one time so that each of them can follow social distancing practices (for example, lobby areas); and
- In all areas which are prone to lines or congregation, install clear markings with signage or tape that show six feet of distance as the appropriate spacing between individuals.
CONTROLLING BUILDING ENTRY
Building Entry and Security
- Strategically post signs promoting social distancing guidelines at building entrances, lobby, security desks, parking facilities, loading docks, and amenity centers.
- Minimize open entrances or designate separate doors for ingress and egress to help regulate the number of people gathered at exterior doorways. Consider implementing a clockwise or counterclockwise traffic flow to prevent people from crossing paths when entering and exiting.
- Install transparent dividers at reception and security desks. Mark 6 foot spacing on floors in these areas.
- If applicable, determine a protocol for tenants who have lost their ID. Consider having the person wait outside while a company escort arrives.
- Security staff should be trained to politely and firmly encourage tenants to maintain 6 feet distancing and wear face coverings.
Visitor Protocol for Secure Buildings
- Tenants shall provide a list of visitors, including each visitor’s name and time of arrival, to building management in advance via email or visitor management system.
- Clearly communicate procedures to tenants and ensure tenants provide their visitors with a phone number to call in the event of an anomaly. Tenants should inform their visitors of procedures in advance of a visit to diffuse potential misunderstandings and negative experiences.
- Recommend tenants limit the number of guests as the building adjusts to re-entry.
- Ensure security guards and building staff have clear instructions for implementing these guidelines.
Employee Arrival and Departure
- Upon arrival at work, employees should wear a face covering and employers must conduct health checks.
- Conduct health checks respectfully and in accordance with any applicable privacy laws.
- Check temperature with a touchless thermometer;
- Ask about the presence of new or worsened cough, shortness of breath or trouble breathing, fever, chills, muscle aches, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell;
- Ask if the employee has had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days; and
- Ask if the employee has traveled outside the St. Louis and, if so, what precautions were taken.
- Employees with a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or above, or who answer yes to any of the screening questions must not be allowed to enter the workplace. Employees who develop any symptoms of respiratory illness while at work must immediately be sent home.
- If an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, work with DPH and compile a list of employees, tenants, or other people known to be in close contact with the person diagnosed with COVID-19. Employees identified as having close contact should be immediately sent home or told not to come into work until the investigation has been conducted.
- Close off areas recently used by an employee or customer who has tested positive for COVID-19 and do not reuse them until after cleaning and disinfection. Wait as long as possible before cleaning.
- Employees should always wash hands when arriving at and before leaving the worksite.
CONFIGURING SHARED SPACES
- Post signs in elevator lobbies promoting social distancing. Promote the use of stairwells, where accessible.
- No more than 2-3 people should use a standard size elevator at one time. Encourage elevator occupants to disperse among the four corners of the cab. Post signage in the cabs and floor markings indicating where tenants should stand.
- Encourage the use of touchless door openers and button-pushing tools to prevent contact with buttons and door handles. Hand sanitizing stations should be placed in elevator banks.
Hallways and Stairways
- Post signs to promote social distancing and designate a path of travel; staying to the right.
- If stairwells are accessible, and where there is more than one accessible stairwell, designate one stairwell for traffic going up, and one for traffic going down.
- Prepare for more frequent and thorough cleaning and disinfecting of stairwells and handrails.
- Post signs in restrooms promoting social distancing and proper hand-washing. Place decals on the floor to mark distance if lines form.
- Block use of every other sink to separate people at handwashing stations.
- Provide adequate soap and water, and if possible, provide hand-sanitizer stations at hallway entrance to the restroom to allow for cleaning hands before and after touching the door handle. Promote the use of paper towels when opening doors.
- Any amenities, such as food service, gyms, and retail vendors are required to follow the DPH guidelines that set forth the requirements and business-specific restrictions for those businesses. See, for example, Food Establishment and Bar Operating Guidelines, Retail Operations Guidelines and Gyms and Fitness Center Guidelines.
- Restrict congregation in common areas by limiting the number of individuals that can congregate safely by social distancing.
- Remove or relocate chairs to maintain 6-foot distance in common areas.
- Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfection in these areas. Building cleaning staff should be visible throughout the workday to build tenant confidence in safety protocols.
PROMOTE TENANT RESPONSIBILITY
- Tenants must report positive cases of COVID-19 to building management. Personal identification of the individual is not required.
- Building management should provide frequent and thorough communication to enlist senior leadership of office tenants in enforcing policies and reducing confusion.
- Encourage tenants to perform temperature or thermal scanning in their offices and require employees who are symptomatic or have a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, to leave the premises.
- Tenants should develop internal protocols for conference rooms, break areas, and shared workstations.
Adapted from the STL Regional Business Recovery Initiative