Business owners, who are trying to minimize their employees’ exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, should implement a set of protocols that everyone must abide by. This guide will help you implement basic measures at your workplace in order to keep your workers and clients safe. First off, the goal is to put in place effective measures that minimize the risk – and if that’s impossible, to minimize the exposure of your workers to the virus.
We’re going to suggest a set of measures that you can implement gradually, or at once, that involve wearing personal equipment and re-assigning the workforce based on priority. The measures below are general-purpose measures that can be applied to all workplaces that have multiple employees:
- Only perform essential work. Businesses should postpone non-essential work until the pandemic is over or its risk minimized. For non-essential work, try to implement remote measures, such as meeting with clients over the internet (video conferences), and do the same with worker meetings.
- Only hire essential workers. Make sure that the most essential personnel are present at the job site, and request that other personnel work remotely for the time being. The fewer people you have at the office, the less the risk of exposure for your employees.
- Minimize physical contact between workers. This doesn’t only apply when they’re working, but it should also apply during lunch breaks and company meetings. If workers can carry out the tasks independently, try to separate them by least 6 feet, which is the minimal guidance recommended for social distancing. Ideally, you should isolate workers in their own rooms. If it’s impossible, due to lack of office space, try to convert other rooms into offices, such as staff rooms, warehouses, meeting rooms, or any other room in the building.
- Ask workers to work for home. This should be an automatic directive for all workers who are sensitive to virus – i.e. workers with respiratory conditions, heart problems, diabetes, cancer treatment, pregnant workers, working seniors and aged staff members. Certain workers with family members who are at high risk, such as workers married to medical personnel, should also be sent home.
- Establish social distancing rules in the workplace. For instance, mark 6 feet distance between customers in a queue. Limit all physical interaction between your employees and customers. Instead of selling directly at the store, start taking phone orders and delivering personally.
- Apply caution with your delivery services. When your delivery personnel are at work, instruct them to deliver outside the premises. Always make sure the delivery personnel have good hygiene and provide them with disposable gloves that they can discard after each delivery.
- Create barriers in the workplace. There should be physical barriers in the workplace if the employees are working within less than 6 feet from each other. These barriers can be made using DYI methods such as plastic sheeting or similar. If it’s impossible to lift barriers, rearrange the furniture you have available, such as placing 2 desks between employees.
- Reduce physical contact time. For instance, if you run a medical service and can’t avoid close contact with patients, you can limit each session to 10 minutes. If the business has multiple departments, reduce the contact between each department at the end of shifts. Apply the same for worker interaction. If the workers go to lunch at the same time in the same cafeteria, design special lunchtimes to separate them.
- Make sure the bathrooms and changing rooms are used by one worker at a time. Place signs at doors to indicate that employees should check whether one person is using the room.
- Supply PPE and sanitary equipment. To protect your employees, purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) packs, such as surgical masks, which you can hand out to each employee for the duration of their workday. If you want to invest in better safety protection, purchase respirator masks that filter out the air while they’re working – for example DittoMask. Make sure there is abundant soap and hand sanitizer available at the office, cafeteria/lunchroom, and bathrooms.