Establishments are beginning to reopen, and people are returning to the workplace. Employers need to establish plans to help keep employees healthy and the workplace safe from infectious disease.
Timelines for reopening workplaces will vary based on the jurisdiction and nature of the job. Some will open sooner than others. Employers should look to their local health departments and governments for guidance on when to return.
A well thought out plan can prepare you for reopening and help prevent last-minute concerns. The plan should include a policy that communicates:
- what the company is going to do to prevent the spread of the virus
- what employees should expect
- people distancing protocols
- travel guidelines
- employee, and visitor screening
- disinfecting protocols
Take steps to assure the workplace is clean. Conduct regular cleaning routines of objects and areas that are frequently used such as bathrooms, break rooms, conference rooms, door handles, and railings. Install alcohol-based hand sanitizers throughout the workplace and in common areas. Create and put in place work rules that promote safety through infection control.
Ask all employees to cooperate in taking steps to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace. The best strategy remains the most obvious; frequent hand washing with warm, soapy water, covering your mouth whenever you sneeze or cough, and discarding used tissues in wastebaskets.
Ask employees to help keep their work areas clean and sanitized by frequently using disinfectant to wipe desks, equipment, tools, and other items.
Avoid meeting people face-to-face. Encourage employees to use the telephone, online conferencing, e-mail, or instant messaging to conduct business as much as possible, even when participants are in the same building. Encourage eating lunch at desks rather than break rooms or restaurants.
Assess the supplies needed to disinfect and sanitize the workplace. Some supplies may be in short supply so plan accordingly. Develop a routine to clean high touch areas such as copiers, printers, and door handles periodically throughout the day. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website guides on proper cleaning methods.
Ask your building maintenance what protocols they use to help keep the space clean. Are they disinfecting or conducting pre-pandemic cleaning routines?
Employee and Visitor Screening
Consider implementing screening for employees and visitors coming into your workplace. This could be a simple questionnaire, taking temperatures, or a full COVD-19 test. Each business is different; one size does not fit all. A small company may determine a questionnaire is enough whereby a larger company may want to conduct temperature taking.
Reopening requires different thinking and routines than before. Develop your plan, maintain the plan, and revise the plan when needed. The CDC is a good resource to help you develop your plan to combat the spread of COVID-19.