Yankee Stadium, home of the New York Yankees, is the first sports and entertainment venue in the world to achieve the WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management. The rating requirements are a blueprint for best operating procedures to help combat COVID- 19, and provide world-class standards for overall health and safety. By achieving this designation, which has been confirmed by third-party verifier Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), the club can operate with confidence that it’s utilizing best practices for players and staff, and that it is appropriately prepared to accommodate the reintroduction of fans when approved to do so by Major League Baseball and local governmental authorities.
Launched in June and created by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), the WELL Health-Safety Rating is informed by guidance developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), global disease control and prevention centers and emergency management agencies, recognized standard-making bodies, such as ASTM International and ASHRAE, and leading academic and research institutions. IWBI has leveraged insights from its Task Force on COVID-19, established at the outset of the pandemic to help business and building leaders integrate actionable insights and proven strategies in the fight against COVID-19 and other respiratory infections.
The WELL Health-Safety Rating achieved by the Yankees is an evidence-based, third-party verified rating for all new and existing buildings and spaces. The WELL Health-Safety Rating provides operational policies, maintenance protocols, emergency plans, and stakeholder engagement strategies to help organizations prepare and maintain their spaces for re-entry in a post COVID-19 environment. The Yankees joined more than 100 organizations, encompassing over 500 facilities, who enrolled in the documentation-based program at launch and who have begun implementing its scientific guidance.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored to companies in every sector how critically important it is to be prepared for a crisis. The Yankees have demonstrated outstanding leadership by taking immediate and thoughtful action to help support the health and safety of their players, fans and employees,” said Rick Fedrizzi, IWBI chairman and CEO. “We are proud to celebrate this achievement with the Yankees.”
Adapted from features in the WELL Building Standard (WELL) that focus on facility maintenance and operations, the WELL Health-Safety Rating is designed to guide and empower the actions of large and small businesses alike in taking the necessary steps to maintain facilities that prioritize the health and safety of their staff, visitors, and stakeholders. It also serves as an annual process that supports efforts to promote long-term health and safety.
“Working with IWBI to achieve the WELL Health-Safety Rating allowed us to focus and implement the most effective and efficient methods known to help mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission in both a workplace setting and a place where the general public will eventually gather again,” said Yankees Senior Vice President of Stadium Operations Doug Behar. “Given that the WELL criteria have been informed by renowned experts and standard-making bodies in this field gives us confidence that we are taking appropriate preventative measures to support the health and safety of our players, field staff, employees — and eventually fans. Reaching this level and receiving third-party verification from GBCI was a long and uncompromising road, but one that is clearly in the best interests of everyone who steps foot into Yankee Stadium.”
Yankee Stadium achieved the WELL Health-Safety Rating by implementing features across five categories:
- Air and water quality management, which includes the assessment of ventilation and fresh air supply through mechanical or natural means, and reviewing inventory of all filters and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) equipment.
- Cleaning and sanitization procedures, including ensuring proper handwashing and surface contact by staff, improving cleaning practices and their frequency, and selecting cleaning products that disinfect without harmful ingredients.
- Emergency preparedness programs, which provide a blueprint for dealing with unforeseen events and providing an actionable plan for re-entry after an emergency event.
- Health service resources, which promote the well-being of employees through screening services, mental health services, seasonal vaccination programs, and a smoke-free environment.
- Stakeholder engagement and communications, which include employing proper signage throughout Yankee Stadium and promoting health literacy to employees, partners, and patrons, including food service safety verification.
“The Yankees already had many of these strategies in place and used the WELL Health-Safety Rating to further strengthen their COVID-19 response and to document and verify these actions with our third party reviewer GBCI,” said Rachel Gutter, IWBI president. “As a result, players, staff, and fans can feel confident that the Yankees have implemented our research-backed strategies to provide a safer and healthier environment to play ball.”
“Restoring the sports and entertainment sectors is among the most complicated challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has engendered, socially and biologically. The New York Yankees’ effort to provide confidence to its players, staff and its community is a model for all sports venues to emulate,” said Allen Hershkowitz, Environmental Science Advisor to the Yankees and Co-Chair of the WELL Advisory for Sports and Entertainment Venues.
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