These days it’s more important than ever to help ensure that your workplace is clean, safe, and as germ free as possible for your staff and your customers. Even though many jobs have gone remote or contactless, there are still many millions in the U.S. who are still having to show up to a crowded workplace every morning, just like all the way back in 2019. So, if you’re an employer who still has many or most of your employees coming into the workplace on a daily basis, what steps can you take to ensure that their chances of contracting or spreading COVID-19 are minimized? There are many guidelines out there from OSHA to the CDC and elsewhere, so we’re going to gather some important strategies that they suggest and give you links to the full guides as well for further reading.
OSHA recently published an extensive (and free) manual for employers and employees that you can use to help maintain safety and peace of mind in the workplace. It is called Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 and is available on their website or by clicking on the link above. Here are some important highlights and takeaways that you can start enacting right away in your workplace:
- Start with a plan. Get together with your company’s top decision makers and put to paper an actionable plan that fits your company's unique footprint for worker and client interaction.
- For the plan, figure out your business's level of risk and interaction with the public at large. Do you handle food or other consumables? Does your business have a showroom floor that is open to the general public? Or are you primarily an office complex with no public interaction?
- Include in the plan proactive solutions to limit exposure like:
- Social distancing in the office
- Staggered work shifts
- Increased remote work availability
- A company wide mask policy
- Share the plan with your employees
- OSHA also recommends the following measures that you as an employer can help facilitate in order to limit exposure and transmission of communicable diseases in the workplace:
- Strongly promote frequent hand washing and provide extra breaks, materials, and alcohol based hand sanitizers wherever possible.
- Distribute CDC approved masks and stick to a mask policy that is right for your company.
- Make masks available to all outside people who interact with your business like customers, delivery persons, janitorial staff, etc.
- Encourage workers to stay at home if they feel at all sick.
- Make testing available to employees if they need assistance doing so.
The CDC has a lot of similar recommendations to OSHA, which is no surprise, but they also recently published a guide that has some helpful tips and frameworks for employers as well. You can also find that in the link above this paragraph. Here are some excerpts from their recommendations:
- Have your employees take their temperatures before work each morning. If someone spikes a fever, encourage them to stay at home sick or work remotely for the day or until their fever disappears.
- Refrain from sharing any workplace equipment like telephone headsets, keyboards, mice, safety goggles, etc. Employers are encouraged to provide extras as necessary so that there is no unnecessary contact between two individuals sharing equipment.
- Speak with building maintenance staff to have them increase the air exchange rate in the building if at all possible. See if they can swap air filters more often and upgrade to more sophisticated filters.
- Have your commercial cleaning company (or in house cleaning staff) clean and disinfect the office more frequently.
There you have it! Some great guidelines from OSHA and the CDC on how you can take steps to help keep your workplace safer during these uncertain times. Good luck out there and remember, when in doubt, wash your hands and keep your mask handy!