26 March 2020 | The Facilitate Team
The IWFM has called on the government to add workplace and facilities management professionals to the list of national key workers under the guidance first issued last week by the education secretary as a matter of urgency.
CEO Linda Hausmanis said yesterday in a letter to the secretaries of state for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy that ministers should acknowledge workplace and facilities management professionals, and their contractors, as key workers in the national effort to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
She says: "Buildings enabling the provision of essential services that are so crucial in the Covid-19 response need to be clean, secure and well maintained to ensure they are safe for the people using them.
"The profession has an essential role to play during the pandemic by ensuring that buildings, and their users, remain safe and operational."
Despite this, workplace and FM professionals had not so far been recognised by the UK government as 'key workers'.
Her letter goes on to detail what the FM industry considers to be essential services and safety-critical systems, such as cleaning, security, fire safety, and waste management.
"Temporarily unoccupied buildings (such as closed down offices, hotels) and residential buildings still need essential maintenance, repairs and security to minimise any risk to user safety now and in the future, and to ensure business continuity. Water systems need to be maintained to avoid legionella, and refuse collection continued and telecommunications systems checked, for example.
"As tighter measures are rightly implemented, these professionals (and their contractors) need to be able to continue to work, travel and access their buildings so that they may continue to provide the essential services and work that will keep people safe and enabled in their workplaces and homes.
"We acknowledge that such exemption has the potential to cover a significant number of people, so to minimise this we consider facilities professionals best placed to determine which of their teams and contractors are essential and necessary to uphold essential management, including critical maintenance and repair, and achieving safe and healthy outcomes."
As the pandemic has rapidly unfolded over recent days, the IWFM has been keeping members updated with the latest guidance. Its dedicated web page - developed in collaboration with the Risk and Business Continuity Management SIG - incorporates advice for workplace and facilities professionals responding to the Covid-19 crisis. It includes updated government and public health advice, as well as valuable resources from business sector and partner organisations.
The IWFM's request for FM's inclusion in the list of critical workers joins a chorus of similar pleas from others in the built environment industry, such as the British Cleaning Council, the British Security Industry Association and the Unite union.