As businesses start to reopen, we all need to have a sense of paranoia about the return of the virus. The experts predict there is a very good chance there will be hot spots and a second wave. Employers and employees must be creative, flexible and think of everyone’s well-being, not just their own or profit. If we protect others, we are essentially protecting ourselves.
Before reopening, make sure all work areas are completely disinfected and have been sanitized. Be sure to include all workstations, computer screens & keyboards, equipment, restrooms, break room/cafeteria and any common surface areas. Once this deep cleaning is completed, there should be routine cleaning based on frequency to disinfect workplace surfaces, chairs, tables, etc.
Before employees come back to work, make sure every employee has been notified of the changes to the workplace due to Covid-19. This should be done by email, text or phone. Notification should include:
New Safety Measures –Health Screenings (possibly temperature checks, exposure response plan, stay at home plans). Most importantly, all employees must understand they cannot come to work if they are ill. There must be proper personal sanitary practice including washing hands after bathroom use and periodically throughout the day. Proper covering of sneezes and coughs into the elbow must be enforced.
PPE – will employees need face coverings, gloves, face shields, personal sanitizer
New Cleaning Procedures – Common areas like counter tops or conference tables should be cleaned after every use throughout the day. Door handles, faucets and bathrooms should be cleaned at least 4 times per day. Vending machines should be cleaned at least 3 times per day or more based on shifts and breaks. PPE should be worn when cleaning. Clean break rooms after each group and prior to next group coming in.
Physical Distancing – staggered start times, break/lunch times, new workstation locations, rotating schedules, one-way hallways/entrances/exits, phasing in employee return to work by seniority, department, building, etc. Try to eliminate any face to face work areas and exchanges such as hallways and doorways. No more than 10 people in a meeting or any work area.
Employers must do a great deal of planning before your employees can safely return to work. Seek the advice of some of your employees, OSHA, CDC and public health departments. We will find a way to do this with the least amount of confusion and disruption to our business.
Next week’s Part III of this series will cover what to do when you employees have a return to work date.
OSHA’s Guidelines as of 5/12/20 are found at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf