When COVID-19 struck, many businesses were forced to shut down. That meant buildings were suddenly turned off and abandoned for several months. Buildings are not designed to sit empty or unused for extended periods of time. In fact, water and air systems inside buildings depend on the circulation provided through regular use to continuously introduce fresh air and water, keeping things clean and safe. Also, when a building is unoccupied, routine changes in condition that would normally be noticed and rectified immediately – such as electrical or mechanical system problems – may go unnoticed for some time. These can potentially turn what would have been a small problem into a bigger one.
What can you do?
Getting your building ready to reopen as soon as possible is clearly the highest priority right now. To the extent possible, companies should continue to perform normal exercising and preventative maintenance on their equipment. However, even by doing so, when equipment and systems are brought back online, they may not function properly. Building managers, together with their maintenance contractor, must develop and deploy a preventative maintenance plan. This plan should firstly include a thorough inspection of all buildings and equipment to distinguish and fix any hazardous circumstances such as damage and maintenance issues that may have grown since the shutdown. As well, any inspection, testing, and maintenance procedures that were not completed due to the shutdown should be reinstated. This preventative maintenance plan should include operating the equipment, servicing vital systems, lubrication of motors and gearboxes, reviewing automated systems, backing up all data and software, and scheduling future preventative maintenance calls.
Getting back to business as usual
With many businesses and schools preparing to reopen, these tips are meant to help prepare operations and serve as reminders of the many things to consider in order to minimize the risk of failure to machinery and equipment that may pose threat to the safety of employees or building occupants.