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This blog post is part of our ongoing coverage of Covid-19.
The coronavirus may feel like it will go on forever. But businesses will reopen eventually and return to normal operations - well, as normal as we’ll ever be after the pandemic.
But reopening your workplace isn’t as simple as flinging open your doors and brushing off the dust, especially if your business is reopening before the pandemic is officially over. You have to take extra precautions to ensure the safety of your workers.
Here are three key tips to protect your workers during the reopening process.
Before reopening, disinfecting is the best thing you can do for your employees.
Because the virus is so contagious, thorough and regular disinfection of public spaces is critical to the reopening process. This will require some planning on the part of employers.
When bringing in a cleaning crew, make sure to provide them with disinfectants approved by the EPA for use against SARS-COV-2. When these disinfectants are not available, alternative disinfectants can be used, such as 1/3 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Please do not stockpile disinfectants–other employers (including healthcare centers) need them too.
Also, keep in mind that routine cleaning with soap and water can dramatically reduce how much of the virus remains on surfaces, decreasing the chance of infection. Coupled with rigorous hand-washing regimens, it will go a long way to help protect employees.
Even if your workplace is clean enough to be fit for surgery, you should still take steps to monitor employee health while reopening. Remember, it only takes one infected person to create a cluster of infections.
Keeping sick workers at home is the first line of defense. The best way to check is for managers to take employees’ temperature before their shift. Anyone with a higher-than-normal temperature is going home.
In the meantime, healthy employees should all be provided cleaning supplies to sanitize their workstations, as well as personal protective equipment to minimize exposure. Workstations should be separated as much as possible to allow for social distancing.
If social distancing is difficult to achieve in your shifts, stagger those shifts so that a limited number of employees are in the workplace at any given time. That way, employees who do go to work will have an easier time maintaining a safe distance.
You should be prepared to invest in some in-office adjustments.
For example, doorknobs are soon to be a thing of the past. Everyone touches them, which makes them germ hubs. Instead, replace all your doorknobs with hooks so employees can easily open a door with their forearms.
You should also make arrangements to eliminate in-person meetings wherever possible. Move information delivery to bulletin boards, conduct stand-up safety meetings via video conferencing, and stagger break times.
Safety during the coronavirus pandemic is all about being careful and planning ahead. We know that there are a lot of adjustments to be made, but as safety professionals, our job is to make safety happen.
Make sure to check out our blog for more great tips on navigating the pandemic, like this post on health and safety during COVID-19.
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