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NCLS Reopening Guide: Building Safety


Before reopening your building, procedures must be in place to ensure the safety of staff and patrons. Many areas and items are commonly touched in your building and cannot be disinfected easily and consistently. Please consider closing or limiting staff and patron contact to areas of your building.

CDC Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility: Everyday Steps, Steps When Someone is Sick, and Considerations for Employers.

High Risk Areas

For areas that you cannot close and are still in use, identify high risk areas and items where the virus is allowed to spread easily. You may consider modifying the area entirely, or adding protective equipment such as a sneeze guard. If you can’t remove the contact people will have with these areas and items, determine a plan for cleaning and disinfecting them. The following is a sample cleaning checklist that can be edited for your own needs.

Hierarchy of Controls

Controlling exposures to occupational hazards such as COVID-19 is the fundamental method of protecting workers. Traditionally, a hierarchy of controls has been used as a means of determining how to implement feasible and effective control solutions.

The idea behind this hierarchy is that the control methods at the top of the graphic are potentially more effective and protective than those at the bottom. Following this hierarchy normally leads to the implementation of inherently safer systems, where the risk of illness or injury has been substantially reduced.

Libraries can apply this model in a variety of ways. The following document provides a sampling of items that fall within the Hierarchy's categories.


Consider signage inside and outside to remind patrons of executive orders, social distancing, and more. Please assess what signage and it’s placement would have the most impact for safety.


Workplace Safety in a Pandemic

Nellie Brown is the Director of Workplace Health and Safety Programs for the Worker Institute at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She gave a recent webinar for eCornell on Workplace Safety in a Pandemic: Slowing the Spread of Coronavirus and Communicable Diseases.