What's Next: A Guide to Post-Quarantine Workplace Safety
Updated: May 13, 2020
It is imperative that all businesses and organizations everywhere have proper protocol in place to ensure safety and protect their returning employees. Here's how Environ can help...
Soon, we will return to our workplaces, with trepidation. Those of us who have not been infected by the virus certainly do not want to be, and some virologists are talking about the possibility of reinfection. Everyone realizes how important it is to feel safe at work to be productive and not overly preoccupied with possible health hazards. Thoughtful steps to make the transition back to a safe working environment is imperative. Environ is ready to provide employers with valuable and strategic tactics to successfully and confidently achieve a safer post-COVID workplace.
Now that most of us have been working remotely, we have found that it is not only possible but, in many ways, more efficient. Our own video conference meetings are more focused and take less time than our traditional in-person meetings. Our team communication is more direct and better documented. As you will find a post-COVID workplace will require more space but this space can be regained, for example, by allowing the appropriate staff to work remotely one day or more every week.
This also will force a change in the way work is conducted and alter some work processes for better efficiency. With that said, it is a unique opportunity to implement a paperless office and the shared workspaces with hotelling that may have originally been under-prioritized.
Step one - Protection.
Everyone should wear a mask and gloves upon entering and leaving the workplace. If an elevator is used, clear floor marking will designate where to stand within the cab to maintain distance. Only a few can use an elevator at the same time, so allow for additional time required to get to and from the workplace. If stairs are available, they should be opened for staff use. It is equally important that social distancing is maintained within the stairways.
Step 2 - Monitor.
Someone should be assigned to take everyone's temperature with a touchless infrared thermometer. Also, looking for signs of illness, cold or flu is essential. Send anyone home who exhibits signs of illness. Masks and disposable gloves should be worn when traveling through the workplace.
Step 3 – The Workplace.
All workstations should be positioned so that they provide at least 6 feet of separation between workers. They should have rolling pedestal files to accommodate a shared workspace. Plexiglass screens should be on three sides of each station to block sneezes and airborne germs. Using disposable craft paper desk pads keeps surfaces free and clear of germs at the start of every shift, and easily cleaned up after. Each employee would pick up a new one at the front door at the beginning of each shift.
All corridors should be designated one-way traffic to avoid having to pass someone and reduce the required 6 foot distance. Markings should be placed on the floor to designate the distancing and the direction of traffic within the workplace.
Common areas such as conference rooms should have two doors and one-way traffic through the room. Lounge areas will be spread out and have floor marking's indicating social distancing.
Step 4: Meals / Breaks:
Getting outside food will most likely have it's challenges. Restaurants will be challenging due to operating at partial capacity. Congregating in break rooms will violate social distancing and eating with a mask is impractical. Break rooms should not be used or, if used, should be discretely scheduled with seating that complies with social distancing. If possible, installing an additional door to provide for one-way circulation is optimal. Another solution, and a better one, would be to have dedicated staff in PPE staffing the break room. These staff members would bring food and beverages to individuals at their workstations and meeting rooms. They can be the same staff members who greet everyone at the door and clean all high touch surfaces.
Step 5: Maintenance.
Assign one person to disinfect all touch surfaces throughout the day. Doorknobs, handles, file cabinet pulls, elevator call buttons, railings, etc. should be routinely cleaned on a set schedule.
Restrooms should ideally have an attendant whose duty is to disinfect after every use.
Every evening, all surfaces and equipment must be disinfected to be ready for the next shift.
We as employers have a duty and obligation to our employees to provide the safest possible workplace, giving them the tools to protect themselves and an opportunity to create an environment where they feel safe and cared for. Let Environ help you put a game plan in place to achieve this goal so you can and your employees can be confident important safety measures and personal needs are being met during this stressful time. We can do it together.