Conference and exhibition safety – Conference and exhibition facilities can be challenging when it comes to prevention of communicable diseases. With tens or hundreds of people in a room, there is no doubt there will be plenty of challenges for conference and exhibition organisers to manage their work health and safety obligations effectively.
Here’s our tips for preparing your conference facility or exhibition faciity for safe work as we emerge from COVID-19 and other communicable diseases.
Tip One – Train your staff
Ensuring all staff are trained in COVID Safe Procedures like ones available at https://tafeqld.edu.au/covid-safe or others is fundamental to protecting your workers but also meeting some of your obligations. While it may seems obvious, ensuring that your staff know and understand communicable disease (including COVID-19) prevention strategies, you’ll put yourself ahead of the game.
Tip two – Understand your current obligations for ratio of persons to area
Ensuring that specific requirements for numbers of people in spaces comply with health directives i.e. currently at 1 person per 4 m2 is an important step in preventing the spread of communicable diseases. You may need to make an assessment of current size of the facility and how many people you are going to pop into a room. You’ll also need to think about your air conditioning and air handling in the facility. See details below
Tip Three – You may need to think about COVID-19 screening!
Yes, it sounds like a difficult question to ask but you may need to ask your attendees if they have been exposed to communicable disease prior to entering your venue. Ensuring that personnel attending the facility undertake COVID-19 screening and/or pre-screening (temperatures) prior to entry (this includes, but not limited to, all staff) can be a good way to help prevent the spread. Encouraging the use of the COVIDSafe App for all attendees at the facility is another way you can contribut to minimising the spread of disease;
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Tip Four – Gather and store contact details (securely)
Ensuring that the contact details of personnel attending the facility are captured. Current best practice involves retaining contact information on all guests and staff for contact tracing purposes, including name, address and mobile phone number and retaining for a period of at least 28 days;
Tip Five – Getting those hands clean before they enter
While hand cleaning wont stop airborne transmission, it will assist in prevention of contamination of contact surfaces. Ensuring that non-touch hand sanitising stations are used at, or immediately adjacent to the entry points to the facility is a great prevention method.
Tip Six – Spacing of tables and chairs
Yes We know it seems inconceivable that a few months ago we would be considering separating chairs in a training or exhibition venue, but it will now form part of the process in the foreseeable future. Ensuring that tables, seating is managed to provide appropriate social distancing will be another means to help you meet your obligations;
Tip Seven – Clean and Clean Again
Keeping your facility clean has always been important but its’ now more important than ever. Development of a cleaning regime for the facility that follows principles of infection control including but not limited to:
- the use of sanitisers on chair, desks, tables, door handles, toilet facilities;
- periodic dry fogging of room surfaces.
Current recommendations require that frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned hourly. You’ll also need to ensure quality control measure are adopted that assess the integrity of cleaning of the facility;
Tip Eight – Airconditioning
The elephant in the room is definitely airconditioning when it comes to spread of communicable diseases. We would encourage conducting a review of the air handling in both conference rooms and toilet facilities to ensure that:
- There is enhanced air filtration such as HEPA filters or MERV 16 in rooms that are likely to be occupant dense;
- Increase exchanges of fresh outdoor air that ensure a clean air delivery rate to meet known standards (i.e.ASHRAE);
- Ensure that exhaust air from buildings is diluted and directed away from areas where there are likely to be personnel i.e. such as court yards.
- Ensure no recirculation or short circuiting of air;
- Maintain temp and humidity to minimise infectious aerosols;
- Consider the use of room air cleaners;
Tip Nine – Preparing for actions in the event of an outbreak
Having a formal plan that details processes and what actions would be taken in the event of an outbreak will be a fundamental component of any good conference or exhibition business going forward. You’ll need to think about what your response might loook like if you do get an outbreak. You might consider:
- Contacting personnel who have been in attendance;
- Cleaning and sanitisation regimes;
- How to mitigate the efects of a business closure if an outbreak was to occur.
Tip Ten – Consider your legal duties for conference and exhibition safety
Safework Australia has highlighted a range of legal duties for personnel managing safe working obligations in a workplace.
Duty to other people in the workplace
You must ensure the work of your business or undertaking does not put the health and safety of other persons (such as customers, clients and visitors) at risk of contracting COVID-19.
Protect others from the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by, for example:
- requiring them to practice physical distancing, including through contactless deliveries and payments
- requiring them to practice good hygiene, and
- requiring others to stay away from the workplace, unless essential, e.g., such as family, friends and visitors.
Duty to maintain the workplace and facilities
You must maintain your workplace to ensure the work environment does not put workers and others at risk of contracting COVID-19.
Maintain a safe work environment by, for example:
- cleaning the workplace regularly and thoroughly
- restructuring the layout of the workplace to allow for physical distancing, and
- limiting the number of people in the workplace at any given time.
You must also provide adequate facilities in your workplace to protect your workers from contracting COVID-19.
Facilities that are required include:
- washroom facilities including adequate supply of soap, water and paper towel
- hand sanitiser, where it is not possible for workers to wash their hands, and
- staff rooms that are regularly cleaned and allow for physical distancing.
Provide workers with regular breaks to use these facilities, particularly to allow workers to wash their hands.
Conference and exhibition safety – It doesn’t end there
Unfortunately there will be, of course many other issues to consider. Food preparation and handling, how you manage fitout of the conference or exhibition space just to name a few.
If you would like furthe information on how Safetysure can help you meet your obligations for conference and exhibition covid safe or other communicable disease, please feel free to chat with us now or call our team on 1300 087 888.