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Harvard Expert Charts Five-Layered Approach to Reopening Offices

A Harvard healthy-buildings expert has laid out a lower-cost, five-layered approach for employers and building managers as they consider how to safely reopen their establishments, the Harvard Gazette reported.

Assistant professor Joseph Allen said existing safety guidelines called the “hierarchy of controls,” normally used to reduce risk in situations such as hazardous chemicals in the workplace, would be suitable for blocking exposure to COVID-19.

The hierarchy consists of five steps, including:
o Hazard elimination, which means keeping employees home.
o Personnel substitution, in this case initially bringing back just those key employees who need to be physically present.
o Engineering controls, including healthy-building.
o Administrative controls, such as de-densify buildings by having portions of the workforce come in on alternate days or times.
o Use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

“Everyone has to be really clear,” Allen said. “There’s no such thing as zero risk.”

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About Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 13-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 15-20 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces. Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications. Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).