COVID-19: Facility Closure Guidance
At Redwoods, we have made the difficult decision to close our physical offices and serve our customers from home. We know many of you are making similar decisions in an effort to slow the spread of this virus. That means your facilities may be closed for some time, and that your teams will be getting used to new ways of working. Generally speaking, it is recommended that organizations have an Emergency Action Plan that covers facilities closure—and this plan should be your primary point of reference.
However, here is a checklist of considerations you may want to keep in mind in the event you decide to close:
While your facility is closed, you may need to reach out to us to report new claims, assess progress of existing claims, or discuss safety, operations or training issues with our team. We may also need to reach out to you too. Please provide us with updated contact information while your facilities are closed, and please also make note of the following contact information for Redwoods.
- Online Incident Report Form
- Redwoods Office Phone Number: 800-463-8546
- After-Hours Crisis Reporting: 877-590-4678
- Redwoods Employee Directory
Make a list of all contractors and services that have access to your facility. This may include: lawn care, cleaning services, municipal services such as trash collection, vendors such as personal training or IT contractors. With an indefinite closure, think about irregular services that may come up in the next 8 weeks, such as fire extinguisher services.
- Notify these vendors, as appropriate, that your facility is closed and that they may not have access to the building.
- Consider the impact if these services are no longer available.
- Secure all equipment and vehicles in safe locations.
- Isolate or remove any chemicals that may act violently with one another or with water.
- Is your pool set up to be unattended for a significant period of time? Will water levels be checked regularly, and has the auto-fill function been disabled? What steps need to be taken to ensure its safety?
- Relocate valuable items, electronics and files by taking them off the floors of below-grade facilities or any area that is prone to flood.
While buildings are unoccupied, they may become vulnerable to theft or vandalism. Similarly, without regular occupancy, unexpected issues such as weather damage or flooding may go unnoticed. Try to stay on top of situations that might develop:
- Depending on local conditions and regulations, explore whether it is possible and safe to have staff check daily on facilities. Use a buddy system, with appropriate physical distancing, to avoid having a single staff member in buildings alone.
- Notify law enforcement that your building will be empty. Ask them to perform regular spot checks or re-route patrols to include your facilities and parking lots.
- Move all cash, checks and important company records to a secure location.
- Set thermostats to an appropriate energy saving temperature while preventing any issues with excessive temperature or humidity swings.
- Move all vehicles to a secure or well-lit location.
- If possible, find a way to flush toilets on a regular basis to keep water in pipes.
Our society as a whole is facing an unprecedented situation, and cases of COVID-19 are likely to become a lot more commonplace now that testing is becoming more widely available. Below are some communication/PR considerations to keep in mind:
- Plan your internal and external communications in the event that an employee is exposed or diagnosed, or it becomes apparent that a member or guest may have been ill while at your facility. Be sure to respect medical privacy and non-discrimination protocols, even as you alert stakeholders to potential exposure.
- Designate one employee to be the media contact. Even if there is no exposure, the media may want a statement about why your facility is closed.
This is a stressful time for everybody. That means it is important to take extra care in how we communicate with and look after each other as we navigate the challenge together. If facilities are closed, some hourly staff may lose income, while salaried staff may need to get used to working in different ways. Consider ways to minimize eventual disruption:
- What communication channels will you use to provide a transparent window into organizational decision making?
- If staff are being asked to go without income, how will you communicate this with them—and is there any support you can provide to lessen the blow?
- For staff that will continue to work from home, how can you make sure they have the tools they need to succeed?
- What additional communication channels might you need to maintain staff morale and connectedness? (Redwoods is increasing the frequency of our virtual meetings and check-ins—partially just to ensure engagement and provide social interaction.)
- What tasks or projects lend themselves to remote work? This might be an excellent time to ensure all salaried staff are up-to-date with their trainings for example.
In the event that your facility is damaged while you are away, the following will help your insurance carrier process the claim faster:
- Take immediate action to mitigate and prevent any further damage, if needed.
- Notify your insurance carrier of the damage: Redwoods customers may report incidents online.
- Take photographs from different angles before moving broken equipment or damaged areas; include some with a wide enough view to provide context.
- If your facility is open or re-opens, keep any broken equipment or damaged areas out of use until it is inspected by your insurance company.
- Collect purchase order, installation, inspection and maintenance records for the equipment involved.
- Save any security camera footage that documents the incident and/or area involved.
By closing down facilities, organizations are making the choice to make difficult sacrifices in pursuit of public health and safety. This is entirely consistent with the values of our movements. However, there may also be other ways that we can step up for our communities in times of need. Please consider the following:
- Are you in touch with local and regional governments and/or non-profit partners? What needs might need to be met that your organization can help with?
- Can you use your social media or other communication channels to support public health and/or community service messaging?
- Are there online volunteer opportunities for staff or volunteers who are now forced to stay at home?