Risk Management Plan for Buildings

Building interior

A seven-step risk management plan is available to assist architects and clients when re-occupying buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, the plan assists with assessing hazards, applying architectural or engineering strategies, and reducing risk.

It uses an evidence-based design approach, documents design decisions, and functions as a repository for coordinated work with building owners.

Follow the steps below and use the worksheets provided to develop and document the risk management plan. The plan should be regularly reviewed, updated, and documented through all stages of design, construction, and post-occupancy to ensure expectations are met.

1. Assemble the multidisciplinary team.

  • Disciplines may include chief operating officer, chief financial officer, human resource director, safety manager, risk manager, facility manager, architectural and engineering consultants, and public health or infection control consultants.

2. Establish goals and objectives for reducing risk.

  • Identify goals to reduce [virus transmission] risk. Goals could include restoring certain services by a certain date or prioritization of functions.

3. Describe the building flow and user experience.

  • Describe the user(s) experience from arrival at the building and through various functional locations within the building.
  • Identify and write a description of all functional uses of the building and intended occupants. Phased occupancy types and loads are possible during the pandemic conditions.

4. Conduct the hazard analysis and characterize the potential risk. (Use the worksheet to document the team’s work and decisions.

  • Identify space type and location in building.
  • Identify primary hazard (biological, SARS-CoV-2).
  • Identify secondary hazards: physical, chemical, biological, or psychological.
  • Characterize the risk: a.) provide short description of risk characterization; b.) determine occupant risk level: low, medium, high; c.) determine activity risk level:  low, medium, high; d.) using risk characterization (description, occupant, and activity), the team needs to determine if the risk is significant for each hazard identified at each building location.

5. Identify architectural or engineering controls for each hazard determined in Step 4. Suggestions may include the following categorized from the AIA Re-occupancy Assessment Tool. (Use the worksheet to document your work.)        

3.1   Programming

3.2   Space Planning

3.3   Non-structural partitions and openings

3.4   Signage

3.5   Plumbing and plumbing fixtures                                                            

3.6   Mechanical and passive ventilation

3.7   Electrical, lighting and communications

3.8   Appliances, equipment and accessories

3.9   Finishes and furnishings

3.10 Site work

4.1 Policies

4.2 Procedures to reduce the spread of pathogens (by humans)

4.3 Procedure to reduce the spread of pathogens (via fomites)

4.4 Procedures to support physical distancing

5.1 PPE Policies

5.2 PPE Procedures

5.3 PPE Equipment

6. Verify system hazard controls.

  • Describe protocols to verify that the controls as designed are maintained. Examples: maintain a log for cleaning and disinfection of tables and surfaces; or check daily to reposition tables when out of place, if tables were spaced apart.

7. Validate system hazard controls.

  • Assess whether actual applied building controls are performing to meet design intent.
  • Perform testing to determine whether actual applied building controls are performing to meet design intent.

The information contained in this document is meant to serve as a helpful reference, but should not be interpreted as legal or other professional advice. Though the information may be updated periodically, due to the rapidly changing legal and regulatory landscape related to the COVID-19 outbreak, it may at any time be out of date, and the AIA does not guarantee the accuracy of the information. Where appropriate, you should seek the advice of an appropriate licensed professional or relevant government office in your location for advice on current laws and regulations.

Image credits

Building interior