COVID-19 has temporarily shuttered the doors of many businesses across our state and the nation. While employee safety remains the top priority, it’s important to consider your vacant property and how to effectively reopen. Although some businesses such as restaurants and medical facilities may require special reopening tasks, here is a list of general items the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety recommends to help the return go smoothly for your building and its systems.
1. Assess Property.
Designate a key employee with assigned recovery responsibilities to return to the facility, assess conditions, document damages, and notify the business owner, key managers, etc., of their findings.
- Inspect the perimeter for signs of trespassers and damage to property (outdoor inventory) and building components (windows, walls, personnel doors).
- Look for signs of rodent and insect infestation.
- Inspect domestic plumbing (water piping that supplies water to the water heater and to all fixtures within a building) and turn on the water supply line to individual fixtures such as sinks and toilets.
- Check your HVAC air filters and replace if necessary.
- Consider thoroughly cleaning the facility, paying special attention to heavy usage areas such as event centers, gym/locker rooms, and restrooms. Follow CDC recommendations for cleaning guidance.
- If there were any severe weather events during the temporary closure, inspect your roof for signs of damage or ponding water.
- Hire a licensed contractor to mitigate any damage found.
2. Notify Essential Service Providers/Partners of Your Return.
- Fire and security alarm monitoring companies
- Local police department
- Insurance company
- Cleaning and landscaping services
- Customers and clientele
3. Check Fire Protection Systems.
Ensure fire protection system (smoke detectors, sprinklers) is in proper working condition. Contact a fire protection contractor if needed.
4. Consider Equipment/Machinery Startup.
Review equipment/machinery startup plan with all employees. If your facility does not have a startup plan and has equipment/machinery, create one.
5. Report Damage to Management.
When employees return, they should inspect their workspaces, tools, equipment and/or machinery used in their daily routine and report any damage to management.
6. Report Damage to Insurance Company.
Management should report any damage and/or related expenses to their insurance company.
7. Debrief and Update Reopening Plan.
Hold a debrief meeting with all staff to review the reopening. Note successes and failures, compile a log of actions to be taken, and incorporate improvements into reopening plan.