How FMs can prepare facilities for the autumn season

As summer draws to a close and darker autumn nights set in, the way facilities are run must be addressed. But what kinds of factors should be considered when preparing for seasonal changes brought on by the autumn and winter months?

 

Prevention of slips, trips and falls

During the colder months, slips, trips and falls pose a considerable risk to a company's employees, as well as to any visitors to the premises. According to the UK's Labour Force Survey, a total of 609,000 injuries occurred in the workplace between 2016 and 2017. And the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also reported that slipping, tripping and falling (on the same level) were the biggest cause of workplace injury in that same time period. With the colder months there is an increased likelihood of heavy rains, icy conditions and snow, thereby increasing the risk of injuries, such as falling on premises. Thus, FMs need to ensure that the building´s they maintain are well prepared for these seasonal changing conditions.

 

This preparation includes ensuring that the external building pathways are regularly cleared, and suitable entrance mats and/or matting systems are in place for visitors’ to be able to dry their shoes and to remove any debris from them. Entrance mats are an effective means when it comes to wiping wet shoes, as well as protecting floors from the damaging effects of dirt, dust and debris that are being dragged from the outside in. And many mats are designed with yarn that is twisted and heat set to enhance the amount of moisture that can be absorbed. With mats in a company's entryway, customers and employees can safely walk in and out of the premises without incurring the risk of slipping and falling.

 

Minimising the spread of seasonal colds and flu

The transition from warmer to colder weather can make people more susceptible to colds and flu as it can lower the immune system's defences. This risk is heightened in smaller, enclosed spaces (like offices) through people coughing and sneezing. Such symptoms can spread and impact employees' productivity. To minimise colds and flu from spreading in a company's office, FMs can encourage employees to wash their hands regularly by putting up signs in kitchens and washrooms, and by providing hand sanitizers that can be kept on their desks or carried around with them. FMs should ensure that surfaces and equipment (such as phones, keyboards and computer mice) are wiped down regularly.

 

Depression

As the days gradually get shorter, and the weather gets colder and wetter employees can experience a low mood due to SAD (Seasonal Effective Disorder). This is a type of depression that tends to occur in the colder and darker winter months, and many theorise that it is caused by a lack of sunlight.  To minimise the symptoms of SAD, FMs can ensure a company's office is designed to be as bright as possible in autumn and winter seasons. To make the most of a limited amount of daylight, they can make sure that windows are not blocked by thick blinds and large objects, and use clever design hacks to trick the mind into thinking the room is more illuminated than it is. This includes adding mirrors (which reflect light around the room) and painting the walls a bright colour.

 

Most modern office buildings have built-in lighting systems that are operated by sensors. However, if a building has lightbulbs that are operated by a switch, swapping standard bulbs for daylight bulbs can make a difference. They are less harsh than fluorescent bulbs and they provide a similar amount of light to natural daylight. Similarly, if an office does not have a built-in heating and cooling system, portable safety-checked heaters should be supplied for any members of staff that are particularly sensitive to the cold.

 

Check heating systems

Testing out the boiler before the coolness of autumn sets in is also vital. Many people never check their boilers over the summer months and as soon as it becomes cold, then they find out that it is faulty. During the cold season, it will likely be the busiest time for most plumbers, so getting things sorted before this period will only help in the long-term.

 

Pests

As the weather gets colder, different pests will try to get indoors to find shelter, warmth and food, causing problems for homes and businesses alike. Hotels and other overnight accommodation facilities play a large role in the spread of bed bugs due to the high number of customers they receive. Some common autumnal pests include stink bugs, spiders, bed bugs and fleas. Depending on the weather, stinging insects such as wasps and bees can often remain active during the early stages of autumn. Both cockroaches and rodents can start to migrate indoors to escape the cold. FMs must ensure buildings are regularly cleaned and checked to prevent the spread of these types of pests.

 

Making these jobs a part of an everyday routine can ensure FMs are organized and prepared months in advance of seasonal changes.