Building Owner and Managers Association (BOMA) Canada has updated its pandemic guide that was first published for its members in response to 2003’s SARS outbreak in Toronto.
“After a while, it collected a bit of dust and we decided it was well past time to revisit it,” BOMA Canada president and chief executive officer Benjamin Shinewald said of the new edition, which was sponsored by Citron Hygiene and Bazak Consulting.
“In buildings, you have very large numbers of people coming together from all walks of life. You have transit in some buildings. You have food services in many buildings. Garbage and recycling are collected there. So the impact can be quite significant.”
Pandemic guide authors and inclusions
A committee comprised of Shinewald, BOMA Canada member services manager Debbie Prince, emergency management specialist Susan Bazak, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority medical officer of health Dr. Bunmi Fatoye, Provincial Infection Control Network of B.C. director Bruce Gamage, Martek Morgan Finch Incorporated vice-president Wayne Purchase and Solmon Rothbart Goodman LLP senior partner Randall M. Rothbart completed the guide a few months ago.
“The whole idea was to target flu season and, thank goodness we did, because we’re in the middle of a doozy of a season,” said Shinewald, who noted his wife was at home battling influenza.
BOMA Canada’s pandemic guide provides information on: pandemic plans for properties; employee health and safety considerations; the physical environment; communicating during a pandemic; supplies and suppliers; information technology considerations; security; and legal considerations for property owners and managers.
Citron Hygiene’s involvement
Citron Hygiene is a provider of washroom hygiene, pest control chemical solutions and life safety services for commercial facilities. The company — which is headquartered in Toronto and has eight other offices in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia — also has a pandemic-preparedness program. That made the company a logical sponsor for BOMA Canada’s new pandemic guide.
“Pandemic preparedness awareness has been a message of Citron’s ever since the end of the SARS pandemic that served to raise the alarm bells amongst all our customers, including the property management community,” said Citron Hygiene president Peter Farrell. “They weren’t ready — nobody was.
“Following SARS, a lot of our customers were asked by their leaders to prepare, but they really didn’t know what prepared meant. We sought to fill that void of the unknown, and our pandemic preparedness program was born.
“When H1N1 hit Canada, our early work in this area, and our ability to help our customers respond to the threat, positioned us strongly as the leading company for preparedness.”
Supplies may quickly become scarce if a pandemic breaks out, and Citron Hygiene encourages its customers to inventory basic protective equipment so they don’t run out during a crisis. It also suggests a comprehensive hand hygiene program, including generous sanitizing opportunities throughout the workplace.
“This measure alone decreases absenteeism and pays handsome dividends,” said Farrell. “Combining this with no-touch washroom automation goes a long way to ensuring minimal contact point risks that spread infection.”
Updated pandemic guide condensed
In addition to having updated content, BOMA Canada’s new pandemic guide has been condensed to a more easily usable length.
“The last thing you need in an emergency is a phone book-sized document,” said Shinewald. “You need to know what to do right now to help.”
The 19-page pandemic guide, which will be updated annually, is available in English and French. It will also be translated into Chinese since Bazak will soon travel to China to share its contents and provide other emergency management information with BOMA China members.
Shinewald is unaware of any other BOMA International chapters (or their affiliates) around the world having a similar pandemic guide. Some have inquired about the Canadian version, however, and Shinewald said his association is happy to share its information.
Shinewald said BOMA Canada expects to publish similar guides dealing with resilience and extreme weather, cyber-security, and net-zero energy buildings in the future.