The outbreak of COVID-19 continues to impact businesses around the globe. And while many companies are ready to re-open offices, they’re looking to do so as safely as possible so employees can have peace of mind when walking through the front doors.
Enter: restoration contractors.
Restoration contractors are trained professionals who have the knowledge, tools, and expertise to help mitigate the risk of COVID-19 contamination in the workplace.
This article provides background on the business of restoration and restoration contractors, along with best practices, protocols, and procedures to help reduce exposure risks in the workplace.
Getting Started: What is restoration and abatement?
Restoration is usually categorized with abatement because of their correlation on certain restoration projects. Yet, the two can be quite different.
Restoration services are needed after disaster strikes – such as fire, flood, or wind damage. Restoration contractors are certified individuals who have the appropriate air filtration/drying equipment and disinfectant products that can restore a location back to working order.
Abatement contractors are responsible for the removal of asbestos, lead, and mold. As mold growth can be the result of recent flood damage, restoration and abatement often intersect with the removal of mold.
Why work with a restoration contractor?
Restoration contractors are experts in health and safety procedures that get businesses back up and running. Contractors are required to obtain certification from the IICRC, which sets international standards for the inspection, cleaning, and restoration industries.
In a COVID-19 environment, businesses are depending on restoration experts and contractors to provide sound health and safety advice that aligns with CDC protocols.
Other benefits of working with a restoration contractor include:
- Having certified technician partners that clean first for health, second for appearance
- Working with individuals with extensive experience in the removal of biological contamination, including Avian Flu, sewage, and norovirus
- Providing access to certified and commercial-grade air cleaning equipment with optimized cleaning processes
- Having the ability to scale across a larger footprint with equipment, staff, and facilities
- Leveraging existing partnerships with environmental/hygiene professionals
- Having access to and use of approved disinfectant and commercial-grade equipment
- Operating under current disinfecting regulation policies
What if your facility or employees are exposed to COVID-19?
Having a plan in the event that COVID contamination occurs is one of the biggest concerns for employers as they re-open. Here are some tips for establishing protocols if an employee or facility is exposed to the virus:
- Send home any individuals testing positive for COVID-19 immediately.
- Assign any potentially infectious individuals to isolation where symptoms can be monitored for 14 days.
- Contact your local healthcare provider if symptoms develop further.
- For essential businesses that are unable to send all employees home, isolate any contaminated area using standard industry procedures, including workspaces of the affected person(s). This recommendation applies to first responders, medical clinics, grocery stores, financial institutions, and other essential service providers.
- Have the facility cleaned and disinfected in confirmed or possible exposure areas by a certified company.
Case Studies: See a Safer Workplace in Action
Minimal Downtime at Hazmasters After COVID-19 Exposure
The spread of COVID-19 has impacted everyone – even the health and safety experts. Hazmasters’ central office in Burnaby, BC, was exposed to COVID-19 in late March. The company worked quickly with its largest national restoration partner to decontaminate the entire building overnight. By taking quick action and working with a restoration contractor for workplace cleansing, Hazmasters was able to re-open the Burnaby office the very next day.
“With COVID-19 evolving at a rapid pace, we had to respond quickly with procedures to keep employees safe and give them reassurance that they aren’t going to become sick at work,” said Sylvia Kolitsopoulos, Head of Business Development, Hazmasters.
PPE and Fit Test Training Provided Quickly After Explosion
A large building in Toronto experienced a hydro vault explosion which filled the entire building with smoke. Hazmasters received an afterhours call from one of its large restoration contractor partners that would be conducting the restoration. The company needed truckloads of PPE, cleaning supplies, and equipment as soon as possible, but they needed to have all of their employees and individuals working in the affected building fit-tested with proper respirators and cartridges.
Within two days, Hazmasters supplied the restoration contractor with the required PPE, fit tested over 250 people, and trained the contractor's staff to fit test people throughout the job.
Ready to partner with health and safety experts?
Hazmasters, a subsidiary of WESCO Distribution, has been a restoration industry leader for more than three decades. The company provides safety and IICRC training, products, and equipment to national restoration contractors.
With Hazmasters’ deep experience in safety and restoration, the company regularly consults with contractors and companies to help local businesses prepare for safe re-openings.
In addition to being a North American safety services and safety products distributor, Hazmasters is also the largest provider of industry-recognized training for the inspection, cleaning, and decontamination of workplace environments.