If you’re anxious about returning to the workplace in light of the current pandemic, don’t worry; you’re not alone. Many other workers are nervous and concerned about not just the virus, but how other people will react to new safety measures.
As you prepare your workplace, you have the ability to keep it as safe and secure as possible. Following governmental guidelines is an excellent start, but also, look to other companies that have returned successfully to work. What regulations have they implemented that allowed their workers to stay healthy and in turn have kept the business going? Here is a list of various ways you can prepare your workplace and your employees for returning to work in a pandemic. This is not an extensive list by any means, but it’s a basic start towards workplace safety.
Install Hand Sanitizing Dispensers
Fortunately, COVID-19 isn’t a particularly strong virus, and an application of hand sanitizer stops the virus in its tracks. Install hand sanitizing dispensers around your office, particularly in places with a communal focus such as the kitchen, outside of the elevator, directly inside of the doors, etc. Make signs and ensure people are using them.
Enforce the Wearing of Masks
We all get it: masks are uncomfortable and really take away the personal aspect of working with others in a communal space. But wearing a mask has been proven again and again to slow down the spread of COVID-19 and other airborne viruses. It’s a temporary measure, but it’s also an effective one in slowing down the spread of the virus.
Ensure that people are social distancing at all times, including at lunch and smoke breaks, at their desks, in meetings, and in the elevator. Staying 6 feet away in conjunction with the wearing of masks really limits the ability of the virus to spread. It’s important that this is done consistently, because if you only enforce social distancing at workers’ desks but not in the break room, it’s essentially pointless. Stay vigilant and for many installing signs as reminders can be a great help.
If you are opening up a store, putting a clear plastic or plexiglass screen down to protect workers manning the check-out can keep your workers safer, especially if someone has entered your store and refuses to wear a mask. This may be an option for a front-desk worker as well, who has to interact with visitors on a frequent basis.
Sanitize Surfaces Throughout the Day
Think of common surfaces: kitchen counters, elevator buttons, door handles, conference tables, desktops, and more. Encourage your employees to clean their own spaces throughout the day, and to pitch in together and clean up a space before and after they’ve used it.
Send Sick Workers Home
Have a plan in place if workers fall ill. Recognize the signs of COVID-19 and be prepared to send an employee home if they exhibit those symptoms. Additionally, have a plan in place for testing, quarantining, and how to handle a coworker that is working remotely because they either have been tested, exposed or are waiting for results or because they’ve tested positive. Ensure that there are other people who can help out when an employee has been sent home. Containing the virus before it can spread to other workers can help keep your business open and running, despite ill employees.
David Rowland, Head of Marketing at Engage EHS, knows the importance of safety in business. He claims that “the role of safety in business is vitally important. It is imperative that we are proactive in developing a positive safety culture in our businesses. What we need is a genuine cultural shift, and this can have a profound impact on not just our workers, but also other KPIs such as consumer confidence and reputation.”
Preparing your workplace and your employees is a daunting task, but it’s not impossible. At the heart of all preparations should be a concern for your employees and an understanding that all of this is merely temporary. Following local regulations and using common sense can go far in fighting this virus and returning quickly to normalcy.