SSR WELL Health-Safety Rating Journey: Keeping Things Going
Reducing occupancy loads, adjusting seating assignments and circulation paths, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer EVERYWHERE! These are all protocols and procedures that facilities began analyzing and implementing in early 2020 to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The WELL Health-Safety Rating has multiple features related to keeping people safe while keeping business going to guide facilities into creating a healthier environment for their building occupants as they begin to return to work and beyond.
This category of Emergency Preparedness Programs focuses on keeping organizations going in the face of emergency. During the past year, companies had to scurry to figure out who could work from home, what technology requirements were needed to run a business virtually, and many more logistics of moving a company that used to be entirely in person to completely virtual. What most companies thought was impossible, turned out to be possible, as long as you had a good team to make things work. All the logistics of keeping the business running during a pandemic can be used to prepare for next time so that companies aren’t taken by surprise.
A company can only be prepared for situations that have been reviewed, therefore this feature requires projects to undertake a risk assessment and create an emergency management plan for natural (e.g. flood, wildfire, heatwave, earthquake), human-caused (e.g., civil unrest, active shooter), technological (e.g., power loss, hacking), and health-related (e.g., medical emergency, infectious disease pandemic) emergencies and educate occupants on the plan to support emergency preparedness and response. This type of plan is location specific since it requires knowledge of the local surroundings as well as the needs of potential vulnerable groups (e.g., older adults, people with disabilities, pregnant women, children) within the building. Key requirements are to educate occupants on the plans in place so that all occupants are aware and prepared, at a minimal level, for if/when any of the emergencies may occur.
All procedures that businesses created in early 2020 to make sure the right people had the right resources to keep working is what’s known as a “Business Continuity Plan.” The problem that may exist is that the plan wasn’t fully documented at the time. Documentation of that plan is what this feature aims to address, so that next time an emergency occurs, building occupants and business leaders will know what to do in an efficient way so that business continuity will be maintained.
This feature requires projects to create and implement a re-entry plan that includes re-evaluation of existing policies, protocols and programs, risk inspections of building systems, frequent occupant communications, and flexible re-entry options to meet occupant needs. Most companies will have gone through this process and will have some information already available, therefore all a project will need to do is gather it together in a concise manner for the GBCI to review.
Depending on the number of occupants in a building and the type of work being performed, emergency resources, training, and dedicated personnel may be in place to help in the case of an emergency. This feature could be feasible if the following are already in place for a project, otherwise, a project may not find this feature feasible within their current operations.
At least three of the following are in place:
- Emergency management plan available to all guests at building entry
- Emergency notification system
- At least one first aid kit per floor
- AEDs accessible to any occupant within 3-4 minutes, maintained as required
- Undesignated epinephrine auto-injectors for food allergy emergencies
- Subsidized (by at least 50%) to destination of need for emergency situations
At least two of the following are in place:
- Emergency response team for medical emergencies, including at least one qualified personnel who has received emergency medical training present within the building during regular business hours
- Security or crisis response team for human-caused disruptions
- Annual availability to regular occupants of a certified training course on CPR, first aid and AED usage
- Trainings provided to promote personal individual and family emergency preparedness available to regular occupants
This feature for SSR was documented through the help of Human Resources based on the company’s Employee Assistance Fund. Alternate feature parts are available based on a company’s resources and benefits set up to assist employees in times of personal emergency outside of work. A project that provides a designated outdoor/indoor space for emergency responders or has a shelter-in-place plan for emergencies can also achieve this feature.
SSR’s Top Picks
Based on the requirements of the above features, priority was placed on Plan for a Healthy Re-Entry, specifically to address COVID-19 concerns for occupants and is documented through a corporate policy implemented at all SSR offices. SSR has gathered some information for a Business Continuity Plan and most offices have Emergency Preparedness Plans, which are anticipated to be pursued during next year’s recertification. Overall SSR has gathered at least nine points towards the minimum 15 required for certification.
Follow SSR’s Journey
During our next edition, our resident WELL Accredited Professional, Hannah Walter, will continue to dive into more detail about SSR’s pursued credits and the coordination and documentation required for each.
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