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Employers need to ensure that the workplace is well-prepared to welcome back its employees after the lockdown, says Sanjay Seth, CEO, GRIHA Council

Employers need to ensure that the workplace is well-prepared to welcome back its employees after the lockdown, says Sanjay Seth, CEO, GRIHA Council

Please provide us an overview of the Building Fitness Indicator (BFI) tool?

Building Fitness Indicator (BFI) is a social initiative by GRIHA Council to assist people in tackling the COVID-19 crisis. BFI is a self-assessment tool that allows organizations to measure the preparedness of workplaces in terms of preventing exposure to COVID-19. The larger intent is to provide a certain degree of assurance to the occupants regarding their safety and comfort within their work premises when business activities resume as before. The tool has a checklist to assess the measures adopted by organizations and building managers to ensure hygiene and ventilation in workplaces. The resulting analysis appears as a reading on a meter, indicating whether or not the organization is prepared to combat COVID-19. The tool provides guidance based on the standard practices followed across the globe (as prescribed by organizations such as WHO, OSHA) and in India (byMoHFW and ISHRAE) to prevent workplace exposure to COVID-19.

BFI has consciously been designed as a tool, and not as a rating or a certification. The guidance provided is advisory and informational in nature and has a set of simple yet effective measures to combat the current crisis. The end-goal is to ensure the health and well-being of employees while enhancing the productivity of organizations and,ultimately, the economy of the nation.

How can employers create safe working environment for their employees?

A workplace with poorly designed workstations, inadequate lighting, lack of ventilation, and poor safety measures for emergencies can significantly lower the efficiency of the workforce. It is, therefore, the responsibility of every employer to provide a safe workplace environment and safeguard the workforce from occupational diseases and ergonomic injuries. If, after the lockdown, employees do not see any noticeable difference in their workplace as compared to before, they might not feel confidence about returning to work. The fear of exposure will subside only when there is a visible difference in the way organizations implement measures for hygiene and social distancing. Employers need to ensure that the workplace is well-prepared to welcome back its employees after the lockdown and give employees the confidence that there are enough measures in place to minimize exposure to COVID-19.

What are the various features of Building Fitness Indicator (BFI) tool?

As of today, we have more than 225 users and have received encouraging response and feedback. GRIHA Council has developed this tool as a social responsibility in this difficult time to help organizations prepare themselves after the lockdown. BFI is a simple self-assessment tool (one has to simply say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in the checklist) that is available in the public domain free of cost. If an organization has not done something – if, for instance, they are not sure about providing PPEs to the maintenance staff – then the tool answers the two most important questions ‘Why’ and ‘How’. The complete checklist and more details areavailable on the link: https://bfi.grihaindia.org/

The tool incorporates government advisories and the best international practices to be followed during the pandemic, right from formulating the policies for standard operating procedures to implementing the strategies for social distancing and creating awareness. It has immense potential to be converted into a full-fledged rating system in the future, focused on health and well-being of the occupants of workplaces.

How will it enhance the health and well-being of the workforce along with productivity and business finesse?

The workplace environment can affect the workforce in both positive and negative ways. The performance and productivity of the workforce can reduce drastically in a poorly planned work environment, especially in present times. Hence, it has been strongly encouraged in the BFI tool to rearrange workstations and ensure proper ventilation as per the guidelines provided by ISHRAE (Indian Society for Heating, Refrigerant and Air conditioning Engineers). The tool also covers other measures that help enhance the performance of the workforce, which, in turn, eventually eases business processes. Strengthening the cleaning protocols and creating awareness in the workplace are two other important aspects covered in the BFI tool, so that there is no compromise on the health and well-being of employees. The relationship between workforce, work, and the workplace is crucial and interlinked, and it is necessary to focus on all aspects together.




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