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How to reopen safely: a guide to hygiene control and ventilation

How to reopen safely: a guide to hygiene control and ventilation

With the end of lockdown 3.0 in sight, people are starting to reopen their businesses, children have returned to school and ‘normal’ life is resuming. Some people are booking haircuts, planning their next getaway and scheduling catch-ups with friends. 

On the other hand, some are hesitant at the prospect of going back to normal. We are just coming out of our third lockdown and could enter another if the R rate increases again. And, with the knowledge that around 40% of people are asymptomatic, being around others can create feelings of anxiety. You could spend time with someone who seems fine but could still have the virus and pass it on. 

This raises the question – how can we create an environment that not only keeps people safe but makes them feel safe? 

Things to consider when reopening your business

Some elements of creating a Covid-secure environment are easier said than done. Plus, many hygiene measures are open to human error. 

One of the main methods we’ve followed is the Government’s “Hands, Face, Space” campaign. We know about hand washing and sanitising, wearing masks and creating a 2-metre distance between ourselves and others. But how do we apply this when putting together a reopening strategy?

What are touchpoints?

Touchpoints are items or places throughout a building that are used by lots of people. These can include water machines, access control buttons, photocopiers or door handles. Such high-traffic objects can be cause for concern as they can allow for cross-contamination. 

Research shows that the virus can survive on surfaces from a few hours up to days. Making hand hygiene and reducing touchpoints a vital part of controlling the spread of the virus.

People aren’t using hand sanitiser units

As previously mentioned, human error can result in even the most robust hygiene measures becoming redundant. People may simply not notice the sanitiser units available or the signs on display. 

Stephen Peppercorn, Facilities Officer at Monmouthshire County Council found that even after implementing hygiene measures around his building in line with government advice, they weren’t being used. Stephen explained, “Hand sanitiser units had been installed throughout the buildings and in both reception areas with A5 printed signage above the units. Unfortunately, this did not draw attention to the units.”

How to increase the use of hand sanitiser and reduce touchpoints 

Stephen installed our Germgard Station, a portable stand that uses a sensor and digital signage to attract the attention of passers-by, prompting them to use the hand sanitiser before they move through the building.

Stephen says, “It has improved hand sanitisation and Covid safety because of increased use. It has also enhanced the Council’s reputation with the unit making a statement that we take Covid safety seriously and are encouraging all building attendees to undertake hand sanitisation.”

Having clear Covid-safe measures in place is an important way of making employees and visitors feel safe whilst also encouraging good hygiene practices. 

Why is ventilation so important?

Ventilation is the newest addition to COVID safety measures, recently mentioned by Sir Patrick Vallance when discussing the reopening of schools. Professor Cath Noakes, who studies the transmission of diseases, also recently discussed in an interview how good ventilation throughout a building can reduce the risk of pathogen inhalation by 70%.

Diagram showing how to improve ventilation by creating fresh air inlets and exhausts for old air.

The best way to improve ventilation is by opening your windows and doors in a way that creates an inlet for fresh air and an exhaust for the old air. Opening windows is an easy step to increasing fresh air. However, many buildings have fire doors fitted and it’s dangerous to wedge these open. 

How can I hold my fire doors open legally?

Fire doors are in place to prevent the spread of smoke and flames when a fire breaks out. They can save lives and property. If fire doors are wedged open, fire can take over a whole building within minutes. 

Specialist door retainers and closers, like our Dorgard or Freedor, are made to hold fire doors open safely and legally.  They release the door to close upon fire alarm activation, allowing the door to prevent the spread of fire. 

Holding fire doors open encourages airflow throughout your building. Open doors also minimise the need to touch door handles, reducing touchpoints.

Implementing clear hygiene measures in your building will help you welcome back staff, customers and visitors and make them feel instantly at ease. Placing Germgard at the entrance to your building will ensure that everyone who enters has sanitised their hands, reducing cross-contamination. By installing Dorgard and Freedor, you’re opening up the building, people can see others approaching and stay 2-metres apart, and you’re reducing touchpoints whilst encouraging airflow. 

Do you need help with your return strategy or to reopen your business safely? Our simple solutions provide an easy way for you to keep your building COVID-secure and fire safe. Call us on 01273 320650 for more information or visit our online shop to order your hygiene products.

Returning to work: hygiene safety in the workplace

Returning to work: hygiene safety in the workplace

Now that schools have reopened and hospitality venues are preparing to follow, other businesses and offices will be planning on returning to work and opening their doors again too. Although some offices have signalled a permanent switch to WFH, this scenario isn’t always a practical option for many business operations. 

Whereas some workers might thrive WFH, others may sorely need a return to the office environment after a year in the domestic setting. And for certain employees, a balance between the two might be ideal, with employers offering a flexible arrangement.  

But above all else, there’s another concern that outweighs all the others: hygiene.  

With virtual meetings and webinars now commonplace, it’s obvious we have the technical means to drive essential communications forward; but when it comes to workplace sanitation, how does your business rate? There are certainly plenty of factors to consider and guidelines to follow. But for various reasons, some companies struggle with an effective hygiene control plan, with almost half of employers failing to carry out a Covid risk assessment or using inadequate prevention measures. Covid aside, this still seems surprising, especially when you consider that sick days have increased by 10 million since 2012. 

So what does a comprehensive business hygiene control system look like? I had the good fortune to find out recently when I started working for Fireco.  

A safe and hygienic welcome back to work

Beginning a new job is an exciting prospect, but during a global pandemic, it can also be quite strange and daunting. However, having researched the company, I knew that hygiene-control would be a major priority for Fireco employees. When I visited the offices for my induction, I was impressed with the measures that have been applied and decided to make a film about them.


After masking up on arrival, staff use a key fob to gain access, usefully avoiding the major touchpoint of the front door. I was then greeted by Fireco’s very own sanitising system, Germgard station, which welcomes reception guests too. Cleverly, it uses a Passive Infrared (PIR) Sensor which detects when someone is approaching the door. The connected screen then displays a message to remind the user to sanitise their hands. When the user complies, a customised message appears and then grants entry. 

It’s best to be on the safe side nowadays, so before entering the office space that’s located upstairs, another model, the Germgard System, requires you to sanitise again. 

Germgard comes in 3 different models and can be used as a stand-alone system or it can be integrated with electronic door locks, automatic doors, and access control systems. A welcome on-site presence, Germgard instantly reassures visitors that the business cares about visitor well-being. 

To further emphasise this, a temperature device sits near the main entrance. If you register over 37.8 degrees then you know it’s not safe to be at work and you need to do the right thing: go home, look after yourself and take a Covid test. 

Speaking of which, Covid Antigen rapid-result swab test kits are also available on site for staff who may not be registering the usual symptoms, but need some quick peace of mind. 

A refreshing work atmosphere 

As you make your way along the one-way system that directs you around the building, there are plenty of signs reminding you to stand 2 metres away from colleagues, as well as sanitation points throughout. Signage makes it very clear that toilets are only to be used one at a time. 

In occupied areas, all windows are open. Interior corridor doors are open too, essential in maintaining hygiene control with constant airflow providing ventilation and replacing stale air. This was underlined in Sir Patrick Vallance’s key points for the Government’s advice on returning to schools recently. 

The heavy doors are held open by Fireco’s million plus-selling Dorgard retainer and its popular sister product, the Freedor Smartsound. Dorgard is a wireless fire door retainer that holds open fire doors, allowing automatic closure on the sound of the fire alarm. Fitted onto the base of the fire door in under five minutes, Dorgard listens out for a continuous fire alarm of 14 seconds or more.

Freedor SmartSound is an overhead door closer which makes opening and closing a fire door effortless. Another wireless device, it lets you place your door open in any position and closes on the sound of the alarm.

Enough space for everyone 

There’s plenty of room to help you on your way to your desk, with zonal spacing marked out in communal spaces, including the kitchen/dining area and meeting rooms. Disposable cloths and antiviral disinfectants are also on hand to help keep surfaces clean. 

Fireco’s wide-ranging office safety measures are designed to instil confidence into anyone who needs to visit their workspace in these uncertain times. This was certainly the case with me and it just goes to show that with the right level of care, businesses can receive staff back to the working environment with confidence. 

If you need any help in welcoming your workforce and customers back to the office with peace of mind, then speak to us about our hygiene-control measures on 01273 320650

All products mentioned in this blog are available in our webshop

Do your employees feel safe at your premises?

Do your employees feel safe at your premises?

The impact of the virus on society

Since the beginning of the pandemic, scientists from all over the world have been researching the symptoms, transmission and prevention methods to help us better understand the virus.

In the meantime, we have all been following the ‘Hands, Face, Space’ campaign promoted by the Government in order to help keep everyone safe. With the belief that the best way to reduce the spread of the virus is to keep your hands clean and sanitised, wear a face mask in public and maintain a safe distance between yourself and others.

This year, we have gained a much higher awareness of the things we touch, whether it’s a shopping trolley, money or a door handle. We have also learned to risk assess our everyday surroundings, and social distancing and wearing a mask has become a habit for many.

However, day-to-day life has and will continue to be impacted by the virus. Returning to work, mixing with crowds or even seeing friends can seem daunting for those who have spent most of the year isolating. This raises the question – are employers and other establishments doing enough to support their employees and customers?

Are employers doing enough to keep the work environment safe?

To help you make your business a safe environment for employees, The Governments Health & Safety Executive (HSE) devised a Coronavirus Risk Assessment which identifies potential safety problems arising due to the pandemic and how they can be overcome.

One point included is “Mental health and wellbeing affected through isolation or anxiety about coronavirus”. Being isolated from lockdown and social distancing can heighten feelings of anxiety about going back to ‘normal’. Walking into a building after a few weeks or months and seeing nothing has changed can be very daunting for employees.

Before the first national lockdown ended, a study carried out by CIPD on 1000 working adults revealed that 44% of them were anxious about returning to work due to the potential risk of catching the virus.

Since then, a study carried out by Slater and Gordon, employment law specialists, uncovered that 46% of key workers have whistle blown on their employers for unsafe practices during the pandemic. With concerns ranging from lack of PPE, no social distancing measures in place or people being forced to return to work even if they are classed as vulnerable.

With the news that local councils will have the power to close businesses if they are not COVID-secure, it is vital to ensure your employees feel safe at work. These powers include an order for immediate action to be taken, closures for up to a week and fines if no action is taken.

What measures can be put in place to make a COVID-secure environment?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Fireco has been helping many businesses stay safe, reduce cross-contamination and improve hygiene with our simple germ control solutions.

Our Germgard Smart Sanitising Station is a portable hygiene stand that encourages the use of hand sanitiser to all building users. It uses an infrared sensor and digital signage to capture the attention of the passer-by and ask them to sanitise their hands, which in turn will reduce cross-contamination on surfaces.

The digital signage is customisable and can be used as a building management tool, for example, you can advise staff to use your one-way system or to take their temperature when signing in.

The Germgard station is a portable device, so you can move it to the location that best suits your building, all it needs is a plug socket nearby.

Germgard helps you provide visual evidence that your company is taking adequate measures to keep your premises COVID-secure and will reassure your employees that they are safe in their work environment.

For more information about Germgard or other ways we can help with your COVID-secure strategy, visit our website www.fireco.uk or call us on 01273 320650.

How Fireco can help with your Coronavirus Risk Assessment

How Fireco can help with your Coronavirus Risk Assessment

Coronavirus lockdown restrictions are gradually lifting and a phased plan is in place to reopen businesses. This means that all businesses must prepare return strategies in order to make their building safe for staff, customers and visitors.

The Government’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has devised a COVID-19 Risk Assessment designed for employers to use in order to ensure their workplace COVID-19 secure. The guidance aims to help businesses identify and manage the risks associated with reopening during the pandemic.

Employers should already have a standard Risk Assessment in place in order to keep their employees and others safe, as this is part of the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. This existing Risk Assessment can be adapted in order to suit the current risks associated with Coronavirus. The basic steps to creating a Risk Assessment include:

  • Identify hazards: What could cause injury or illness?
  • Measuring the level of risk: How likely is it that the risk will lead to injury or illness?
  • Take action: Reduce risks or, if possible, eliminate them.

If you need help to identify potential areas of risk in your business, HSE has put together a COVID-19 Risk Assessment template which can be printed and filled out. 

Fireco products can help you reduce the risks and contribute towards keeping your building germ free.

Here are some of the hazards that the HSE include in their assessment that Fireco can help with.

“Poor workplace ventilation leading to risks of coronavirus spreading”

Our hold-open devices will allow you to legally and safely hold your doors open throughout the building, improving airflow

“Getting or spreading coronavirus in common use high traffic areas such as canteens, corridors, restrooms, toilet facilities, entry/exit points to facilities, lifts, changing rooms and other communal areas.”

We have a range of products which can help with germ control for pinch points and shared surfaces. Our hold-open devices will allow you to keep your doors open, reducing the need to touch door handles, limiting the risk of cross-contamination. Our Smart Sanitising System, Germgard, can be installed by entry and exit points, which will promote the use of hand sanitiser before passing through.

“Mental health and wellbeing affected through isolation or anxiety about coronavirus”

Being isolated from lockdown and social distancing can heighten feelings of anxiety about going back to ‘normal’. Walking into a building after a few weeks or months and seeing nothing has changed will be very daunting for employees. Our hold-open devices can create a more open atmosphere and allow people to pass through without having to touch door handles. Germgard is a clear and visual way to show people that you have safety measures in place.

“Getting or spreading coronavirus by not washing hands or not washing them adequately”

Germgard is designed to promote good hygiene practices to building users through the use of hand sanitiser. It can also be integrated with access control and other systems to further reinforce sanitisation by only allowing entry once the sanitiser has been used.

Fireco’s product range can help unite both your COVID-19 and Fire Risk Assessments. If you would like to know how we can help your business with germ control and fire safety, contact us today on 01273 320650.

Social media giant turns to Fireco to assist with their return to work strategy

Social media giant turns to Fireco to assist with their return to work strategy

Fireco has been working closely with a high-profile social media platform client based in Soho, London, to provide an innovative and practical solution to guard against the transmission of germs in the working environment. The client wanted to find a solution that would work immediately, but which would also continue to be of use after COVID-19.

“When investing in technology to help combat COVID-19 as part of a return to work strategy, it’s important to retain that investment, to make sure that the technology will provide business continuity in other areas, in this case, fire safety.”

Fireco manufactures fire safety products which will be critical in any business’s fire risk assessment.  Fireco products are designed to stop people wedging open fire doors, which prevents them from closing in the event of smoke and fire.

Fireco has deployed a fully integrated solution based on our Pro ecosystem, using Dorgard Pro units. These are fire door retainers which hold open fire doors legally, allowing the door to automatically close when the fire alarm sounds. The Dorgard Pros connect to a ProHub gateway through wireless mesh network connectivity.

The ProHub can be directly connected to any fire alarm panel, meaning the solution is suitable for Category A fire doors. This system is managed through cloud-based software and provides users with interoperability through integration between multiple systems using Fireco’s open-source SDK.

Our social media client was not alone in looking for a solution which answered both fire safety and germ control requirements. Across all sectors, our customer base appears to have quickly learnt that one of the biggest risks of infection transmission in the office was through door handles.

Holding fire doors open compliantly reduces the need to touch door handles, which helps to control the spread of infection through commonly touched hard surfaces. Having doors open will also keep your building well ventilated, which can make germs less likely to spread.

If you need assistance with your back to work strategy and long term building solutions, call us today 01273 320650

Have you thought about your return to work strategy post-COVID-19?

Have you thought about your return to work strategy post-COVID-19?

As we edge towards the end of the Covid-19 lockdown phase, businesses are starting to look at their return to work strategies, and making their sites as safe as possible.

Many questions have been raised as to what the “new normal” will look like, but health and safety compliance will be just as important as ever. This means not only looking at ways to keep buildings fire safe, but also how to manage the spread of germs on shared surfaces. This will come from sensible staff management, social distancing and giving staff the correct equipment to manage their own safety effectively.

Fireco manufactures a range of self-install devices which allow doors to be held open compliantly. What does this mean for your staff? By holding the door open, you reduce the number of times people need to touch the door handle when going in or out of the room.

All our hold open solutions are fire-rated and can be used on all nominal and certified fire doors in a building. Brian Hughes from Venator, a leading global chemical company, has recently purchased 19 units. He said:

“I contacted Fireco today to enquire about the use of Dorgard for our doors. We are planning a return to work strategies and Dorgard is a safe way to keep our fire doors open and help stop the potential spread of germs”.

Fireco can help with your back to work strategies, call us today 01273 320650

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