As the Covid-19 pandemic continues into 2021, protecting the health and safety of building occupants is vital. The International WELL Building Institute recently developed a new rating, the WELL-Health Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management to create an evidence-based, third-party verified rating for all new and existing building and facility types. This rating is focused on operational policies, maintenance protocols, occupant engagement and emergency plans. The strategies that are within the WELL Health-Safety Rating are broad-reaching and apply to numerous health and safety issues that have arisen as a result of the pandemic. It’s specifically geared towards empowering owners and operators across all businesses to make updates to their policies and protocols in order to successfully incorporate this Rating.

The WELL-Health Safety Rating consists of a subset of relevant features from the WELL Building Standard (WELL), which was originally adapted for facilities and operations focus. The WELL Health Safety Rating focuses on six main health-safety themes including:
– Cleaning and Sanitization Procedures
– Emergency Preparedness Programs
– Health Service Resources
– Air & Water Quality Management
– Stakeholder Engagement & Communication
– Innovation

In order to achieve a WELL-Health Safety Rating for your building, the rating requires that each building or space achieve 15 “features” by pursuing a combination described below:


Support Handwashing –  Reduce pathogen transmission associated with washing and drying hands through the provision of proper handwashing supplies, implementation of additional sanitization strategies, installation of signage for effective handwashing, use of disposable soap containers and availability of hand-drying towels.

Reduce Service Contact – Implement temporary and/or permanent strategies to reduce the amount of contact with high-touch surfaces.

Improve Cleaning Practices – Implement rigorous cleaning protocols that address hightouch
surfaces by detailing the extent and frequency of cleaning, provide annual trainings for cleaning staff and require detailed documentation procedures.

Select Preferred Cleaning Products – Restrict use of hazardous or harmful ingredients in cleaning,
disinfection and sanitization products.


Develop Emergency Preparedness Plan – Conduct a risk assessment to inform the resources,
education, training and management plans necessary to respond to diverse emergency situations.

Create Business Continuity Plan – Develop a business continuity plan that identifies critical
business functions necessary for recovery and responds to the results of a remote work readiness assessment.

Plan for Healthy Re-Entry – Create a plan for re-entry after an emergency event that addresses maintenance and sanitization protocols, stakeholder engagement,
access to personal protective equipment (PPE), dedensification (including phased re-entry), ongoing communication and training methods, and the continuous evaluation of health and safety protocols in the building.

Provide Emergency Resources – Provide resources, personnel and training that support the
occupant response to diverse emergency situations.

Bolster Emergency Resilience – Support health and well-being during and after emergencies through the provision of occupant education, emergency assistance funds and/or designated emergency spaces.


Provide Sick Leave – Support the overall health and well-being of individuals by promoting stay-at-home policies and providing short-term and long-term sick leave.

Provide Health Benefits – Provide access to essential health services, screenings and assessments.

Support Mental Health Recovery – Create opportunities for recovery after emergency situations through occupant access to mental health services and resources.

Promote Flu Vaccines – Promote community immunity through occupant health by providing vaccine programs and annual seasonal flu prevention campaigns.

Promote a Smoke-Free Environment – Deter smoking, minimize occupant exposure to secondhand
smoke and reduce smoke pollution.


Assess Ventilation – Minimize indoor air quality issues by assessing the ability to increase fresh air supply through mechanical and/or natural means, thereby
diluting human- and product-generated air pollutants.

Assess and Maintain Air Treatment Systems – Conduct a system inventory of all filters and UVGI equipment
to inform proper air treatment and filtration maintenance.

Develop Legionella Management Plan – Establish protocols that minimize the risk of Legionella
colonization by analyzing hazards and maintaining documentation of regular water system inventories.

Monitor Air and Water Quality – Perform annual monitoring of water and indoor air quality

Manage Mold and Moisture – Limit the potential for bacteria and mold growth within buildings from water infiltration, condensation and internal leaks.


Promote Health and Wellness – Cultivate a culture of health by reinforcing programs, amenities and policies available to support health and safety, including regular communications, occupant education and health risk assessments. Support healthy behavior through signage that communicates important health safety actions and information.

Share Food Inspection Information – Promote health and hygiene awareness by conducting regular
food inspections and making the results visible to all occupants.


Innovation – Innovation strategies pave the way for organizations to develop unique strategies for
creating safe and healthy environments. Up to three innovations may be submitted for review and awarded for developing unique strategies for promoting health and safety.

Here are the steps businesses can take to pursue the WELL Health-Safety Rating:

  1. Explore – Download and review the criteria for achieving the WELL Health-Safety Rating.
  2. Enroll – Sign up and share your commitment to pursue the WELL Health-Safety Rating.
  3. Customize Your Approach – Select the features that are relevant to your building or space.
  4. Upload Documentation – Provide feature-specific documentation using the digital platform to demonstrate your building or space meets the requirements of the WELL Health-Safety Rating.
  5. Review – Undergo third-party documentation for review by GBCI to confirm you’ve successfully met the feature-specific intent and requirements.
  6. Achieve – Earn the WELL Health-Safety Rating and promote your achievement.
  7. Renew – Apply for your annual seal to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to upholding operational policies, maintenance protocols and emergency plans.