Workplace Health and Safety in the World of COVID-19

As we look toward returning to our workspaces, a common topic of conversation is around what the risks of exposure are in an office setting. Public health experts all over the world are hard at work researching this evolving pandemic, and a recent CDC study may be our best source of information at the moment.

This study tracked and tested every individual who was in or around one specific building in South Korea for five or more minutes. While there is more to the study, the key findings showed that the virus:

  • Did not seem to travel through HVAC systems,
  • Did not spread in the circulation areas of the building,
  • Transmission resulted from prolonged exposure to another infected person in a close setting.

Even with much interaction between occupants of different floors and in the elevators and lobbies, all infections at this building were confined to a single floor, with most of those infected having been in close proximity to the source. The illustration below shows that transmission (in blue) is affected by proximity and prolonged exposure to an infected person:

While this is not to say that there is no cause for concern when traveling through the Link, it is important to base our decisions on the available facts. The one point on which there seems to be wide consensus though is the role of facial coverings in minimizing transmissions.

It is believed that it may take as few as 1,000 viral particles to infect a new host. A single cough can create as many as 3,000 such particles, with sneezes releasing 10 times that number. It has been shown that facial coverings can reduce the spread of these particles at the source. For this reason, we are asking every person who comes in to The Link to wear facial coverings, especially given that the data shows asymptomatic transmission is a large part of the outbreak. Furthermore, studies show that masks do indeed play a significant role in decreasing your chances of being infected.

This policy will be enforced in common areas, and we ask that you encourage all staff to keep these on as much as possible even within your workstations. These specific asks can be found in the “Asks for Tenants” section in the guidelines below.

In partnership with Boston Properties, we feel that, by working together, we can ensure a safe working environment at The Link. As with everything COVID-19 related, this will be an evolving document and we will keep updating you. The latest version of this will also remain available on this page.

Upon your return, you will notice some changes in the environment of the building, but one thing that will remain the same is that we will continue to be a safe place for you to do the important work you do for our society. As always, it is a pleasure to have you all as part of The Link Community, and I sincerely look forward to the next time we can all exchange some uncovered laughs.

 

Thank you,
Christina Dickson
Facilities Coordinator

The Link – Reopening Procedures and Policies

General Social Distancing Rules:

  • Everyone is required to wear face masks in all common and circulation areas in the building.
  • Please maintain 6 feet social distancing when in public and common areas and whenever feasible avoid congregation in common areas.
  • If you have any flu-like symptoms, please do not enter the building until cleared by medical professionals to do so, if possible.
  • Do not use any meeting spaces that are not reserved, and only use these spaces for the reserved times. Availability of conference spaces, and limitations on usage, is to be determined but will be done in accordance to best practices at the time.
  • As per the current State Advisory, social gatherings are limited to 10 or less people. Please note any common area, conference room, lobby, kitchen etc. cannot be used by more than 10 people at any given time ensuring 6 feet of social distancing.
  • Conference Rooms will be limited to the number of persons allowed to congregate per government guidelines. We will keep you all informed about these guidelines when we start confirming events from outside organizations.
  • As much as possible, please stagger the work schedules, lunch and break times

 

Entry/Exit Protocol:

  • All the employees will be able to access the building through their access cards.
  • There will be signs, signage, and decals at the lobby to guide the public through the new health security procedures.
  • Only 4 people will be allowed at one time in the freight elevator.
  • Only 4 people will be allowed in an elevator at one time and each person must stand in a corner.
  • AT ALL TIMES, please respect any requests from the front desk staff person or the security personnel.

 

Visitor Access:

  • Please limit the visitors in the building and invite them only if absolutely necessary.
  • ALL visitors must be entered into the visitor system before they will be allowed into the building.
  • Visitors will be required to have face coverings at all the time while in the building.
  • It will be the responsibility of the host to fetch their visitors from the lobby to their respective areas.

 

Cleaning Procedures by Boston Properties throughout the Building:

  • Standard operating procedure for cleaning has been updated to include more frequent cleaning of building common spaces, lobbies, shared conference rooms, and other areas of congregation.
  • Additional cleaning services and staffing will be provided as necessary to execute regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces throughout the day.
  • To maintain safe distances, only 4 persons will be allowed in the elevator at one time and 4 in the freight elevator.
  • Some common area locations will be provided with hand sanitizer dispensers with sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Conduct indoor air quality testing and provide filtered indoor air quality.
  • Increase ventilation rates and air changes, and reduce air circulation.
  • Explore and pilot commercial HVAC technologies.
  • Conduct water sampling.

 

Requests to our Tenants:

  • In order to facilitate social distancing at The Link, we suggest you stagger the work schedules of your employees along with the lunch and break times. This is to ensure that all staff maintain at least 6 feet of distance between their work areas. Unfortunately, the desks cannot be rearranged since they are permanently connected to both electrical and internet cables. However, we would be happy to discuss additional options.
  • If possible, please also stagger the arrival and departure times for your staff.  
  • Please limit any in-person meetings and outside visitors to the building
  • Please ask that your staff practice general social distancing guidelines when commuting, going out for lunch, etc. 
  • In addition to the cleaning protocols of the building, we ask that you wipe down any surfaces in your offices that you interact with as often as possible. 
  • SELF-CLEAN - If using any shared spaces, please wipe down all surfaces and any items touched (door knobs, markers, etc.) before leaving the room. 
  • Please self-check your symptoms before coming to office everyday
  • Please DO NOT enter the building if you are experiencing flu-like/COVID-19 symptoms which may include but are not limited to – chills, headache, muscle ache, sore throat, fever, cough and/or shortness of breath.
  • Wear a face covering at all times when in public or common guest areas.
  • Wash your hands properly and frequently and/or use hand sanitizer frequently.
  • At any given time, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

 

Guidelines for Disclosure of Confirmed Cases within the Building:

If we come to know of any confirmed case of COVID-19 within the building, all the tenants in the building will be notified. Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting services will be provided in the common areas. We do not plan to close the building unless specifically directed to by the local public health department.

 

Package Deliveries:

We will designate one corner for all the package deliveries where you will be able to pick them up.

 

Additional Precautions:

  • We recommend you ask each employee to stick to a single work desk while working at the office.
  • Please use wipes to disinfect your desk and use the “Clean In and Clean Out” approach (disinfect items you touch before and after use).
  • We recommend that larger meetings be held via videoconferencing or other means.
  • It is suggested that you leave your office doors open to increase ventilation. 
  • Please use the “Clean In and Clean Out” approach when using the printer room. We will make sure to provide wipes and disinfecting spray to be used during every single use.
  • While the kitchen remains a common area for everyone, please limit the capacity of up to 10 people at a given time ensuring 6 feet of social distancing.
  • Wipes and disinfecting spray will be provided for the “Clean In and Clean Out” approach while using any common items like the refrigerator, microwave, tables, chairs, toaster and coffee machine.
  • It is recommended that you eat your meals at your respective workstations until we are able to return to a pre-COVID-19 state.
  • Please do not keep any unattended items in the refrigerator. All the items must be tagged and named.  
  • Due to health and safety reasons, we will no longer be providing coffee in the kitchen till further notice.
  • We request everyone enable work from home options where feasible to reduce density in the office.
  • Limit business travel as much as possible.

 

As per the State Advisory on May 18, 2020, the organizations have been asked to limit the occupancy within their office space to no more than 25% of the maximum occupancy level. We will be working along with each one of you to understand how we can plan to achieve this. We will be preparing a suggested seating floor plan for the workstations, keeping in mind the current social distancing norms. We will also be sharing a survey with all of you asking your expected date of return to workspace. This will help us plan better and safely for everyone.

The Link at Kendall Square, 255 Main Street, 8th Floor, Cambridge, Mass. 02142

617.945.2562

info@link-kendall.org

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