Inspection Impacts Due to COVID-19

Before we get into it, we’d like to set the record straight: no matter how seriously we take them, routine inspections and cleaning procedures alone are far from sufficient to ensure the safety of occupants from COVID-19. Their purpose is to ensure all areas within a property are in order and immediately bring attention to those that aren’t. In the context of an ongoing global pandemic, inspections are a tool to evaluate specific areas for potential vulnerability and reduce risk. Results from inspections are useful for guiding health & safety and sanitation procedures, but only if new strategies are implemented and behaviours are adapted on a broader level to reduce the risk of transmission. 

BOMA Canada has published a great resource on how buildings can prepare for return to work and implement new strategies to reduce risk of transmission. For information on return to work guidelines, check out their resource here

At Tap Report, we want to focus on what we do best and that’s streamlining inspections. With this in mind, we’ve consolidated our recommendations on how to use routine inspections and maintenance to limit the spread of COVID-19 at your property: 

Sanitation & Testing 
  • Increase sanitation inspections, especially as employees return to work in common/shared spaces and frequently visited areas including entrances, lobbies, elevators, stairwells, hallways, desks, washrooms, kitchens etc.[1] 
        • Everything should be getting cleaned and at increased intervals, especially in common/high traffic areas
        • Cleaning protocols, operations, training & PPE for staff should be examined and realigned to the "new normal" circumstances
        • Cleaning and sanitation inspections should be treated as a strategic resource against the spread of COVID-19
        • Cleaning protocols should be adjusted based on occupancy levels 
  • Verification of work for inspections/cleans not mandated by law, such as sanitation inspections, are increasingly more important
        • You're already keeping inspection records for mandated equipment/location inspections such as fire extinguishers, sprinkler valves, etc. but in our "new normal", it's best practice to keep inspection records for sanitation inspections not mandated by law
        • You'll want proof that the cleans were completed, time-stamped and by who
        • Verification of work will increase your due diligence and mitigate risk. It also helps create transparency and trust among employees and tenants
        • We anticipate that there'll be some eager employees or tenants that want to be assured that the appropriate cleaning protocols are being adhered to
        • Having documentation of who inspected an area, and when, especially over a history of time, shows a consistent story of caring, as well as taking the necessary precautions, which is really important, especially if something goes awry or if there's an outbreak at your facility 
        • Signing off on inspections puts more accountability on those performing the cleans and inspections
        • Digital inspections and documentation can help streamline your inspection process and provide real-time data that can be visually displayed or available upon request 
  • Where possible, incorporate automated, touchless controls for operation of doors, faucets, soap dispensers and trash receptacles 
        • Inspect and maintain touchless technology regularly to ensure proper functionality 
        • Monitor soap and hand sanitizer supply and as refill as needed 
  • Install automatic hand sanitizer dispensers in all areas of building and regularly monitor supply 
  • Monitor waste disposal units for overflow and empty as needed 
  • For buildings with significantly reduced occupancy since COVID, create new safety protocols to ensure water is flushed out of sinks, showers & toilets as part of weekly maintenance to prevent accumulation of bacteria and harmful chemicals in pipe systems. [1]  
        • At least 5 mins of flushing is generally recommended for sinks and showers, but flushing time may have to be increased according to tank size [1] 
        • Also include in new protocols, regular testing for harmful bacteria or metals as per public health guidelines for your building, particularly when water is not able to be flushed frequently [1]
  • Assess whether implementing regular adenosine triphosphate (ATP) bioluminescence-based swab testing and/or Pathfinder imaging of surfaces before and after cleaning to detect presence of bacteria/the virus on surfaces and common touchpoints is needed at your property [1][2][3] 
        • ATP swab testing: 
              • is a method used to detect the adenosine triphosphate compound, which provides energy to living cells and is present in the genetic material of all cells and microorganisms. 
              • works by producing bioluminescence when the swab reacts with ATP, and is often used in healthcare settings to evaluate the effectiveness of sterilization procedures for medical equipment as well as hand hygiene. [2] 
        • Pathfinder imaging: 
              • overlays a colour intensity map on surfaces to show the presence of germs 
              • In Pathfinder images, green is used to represent less contaminated zones with lower concentrations of microorganisms while red represents more contaminated zones where bacteria and viruses are most highly concentrated. [3]
        • If testing shows presence of viral/bacterial organisms, increase frequency of cleaning and address hand hygiene with occupants and staff [1] 
        • Keep record of results, along with cleaning specifications, your cleaning/sanitization work program and training procedures [1]
  • In the event of an outbreak, work with public health authorities and a decontamination team to develop remediation procedures for the following under their guidance and training [1]
        • Incident Site Risk Assessment: gather as much info as possible to map spread of the virus and develop mitigation strategies [1] 
        • Proceed with decontamination procedures as directed by public health officials [1] 
        • Post-Site Assessment: Conduct visual inspection, complete post operations documentation, dispose of waste and PPE properly, document results and lessons learned [1] 
  • Inspection records of all the above inspections and sanitation procedures should be kept in an easily accessible location in case tenants or authorities request the information; ideally, the inspection records should be digitally accessible for real-time data 

  • Increase airflow with greater fan speed [4] 
  • Limit air introduced into dampers to outdoor-only [4] 
  • Deactivate or bypass heat recovery unit and sanitize wheel of rotary heat exchanger[4] Maintain relative humidity setpoint of 40°C or above [4]
  • Test humidity and residence time of air within different areas of your building to assess risk of respiratory droplet transmission 
  • Maintain continuous ventilation operation even during off-hours to flush out viral particles in time for the next day [4] 
  • Inspect older equipment for leakages from the exhaust to supply-side [1]

Other Inspections 

With changing occupancy, you may be dealing with new sources of risk, such as the following, that will require more frequent inspections: 
  • Concerns over theft and suspicious individuals with building, streets and storefronts less busy, resulting in the need for increased guard patrols [5] 
  • Emergency Power Systems not up-to-date Inspections, testing and maintenance (ITM) falling by the wayside if building personnel are not present to keep to schedule as per NFPA guidelines [6] 
  • Blockages of open smoke or fire-protection rated doors going unnoticed 
  • Blockages or hazards in stairwells or crossover floors especially as their use may increase as tenants return to work 
  • Inspection of floors and areas for unsafe workspaces where physical distancing is not possible 
  • Exits & access points - locking and unlocking as required. For entrances that have been closed for several weeks, inspect that they are in good working order 
  • Pedestrian traffic and accessibility of new building protocols; ensuring that tenants and visitors are following newly implemented procedures 
  • Keeping an eye on occupancy levels in common spaces through increased guard patrols Escalator inspections and start-up protocols for any escalators that have been turned off due to lower occupancy 
  • Inspect your elevators, duress alarms and intercoms to ensure proper working order, especially for those that haven’t been used very much over the past several weeks 
  • Any inspections that are not up-to-date i.e. sprinkler protection, fire extinguishers, emergency exits, first-aid kits, eyewash stations etc. 

As the spread of COVID-19 slows down and fewer new cases are detected, it’s important not to forget that property managers and building occupants must continue to be vigilant and take steps to reduce the potential for spread wherever possible. 

For more information, please see our sources noted below. 

If you want to learn more about how Tap Report can help streamline or digitize your inspections, contact us at