While a vaccine is now available, the COVID-19 pandemic will likely continue to be a risk to citizens for many months. As we strive to move back to our normal routines, employers and employees alike must continue to take precautions to avoid transmission of the virus.
Make sure that all shared surfaces throughout the facility are wiped down at the end of the day, and consider adding a wipe-down in the middle of the morning. This includes light switches, door handles to offices and conference rooms, and buttons on tools such as your time clock. Detailed disinfecting of shared employee spaces is listed below.
Keep disinfecting wipes or a hospital-grade spray available in pods or workstations that include several people so anyone who feels the need can disinfect their space. This is particularly important in an office where keyboards are shared.
If employees must come together at certain points in the day, such as over the lunch break, make sure to allow space for social distancing. Encourage employees to eat in shifts during the workday, or create another space where people can take their breaks.
Before and after each break, make sure that all shared surfaces in the breakroom, such as
- table tops
- microwave keypads
- light switches
- cabinet handles
- refrigerator handles
are thoroughly wiped down with a hospital-grade disinfectant to reduce transmission risk.
Provide the Option to Telework When Possible
If employees work on machinery specific to your industry that can’t be relocated, then in-office work must be an option. However, if employees spend at least part of their day on a computer, make arrangements to allow this work to be done from home. Even part of a day worked from home can provide employees with a lower risk of transmission. This is particularly critical for parents trying to help children with remote schooling.
Such plans could be created by allowing employees to remote into their own computer setups, or by putting necessary programs on a laptop and sending it home. Of course, security for this inherent data risk is crucial to protect your proprietary data. If you don’t have a written policy for managing company hardware, create one.
Require Masks or Face Shields
If your employees are already working six feet apart, you may not need to require a face mask while they’re at their workstation, but you will need to require them in common areas. Your front office personnel and anyone dealing with the public should wear a mask to limit the risk of transmission to your staff or to the visiting public. Keep in mind you may have to provide face masks and shields for your staff if they don’t already have their own. Especially if you have employees who interact with customers regularly like cashiers or delivery drivers, it is important that you provide face masks to them so your consumers understand your company’s stance on COVID safety.
Make sure that your front office staff has the right to require patrons to wear a mask. If you have employees that spend time at a cash register each day, provide them with training on how to manage a client who is unhappy with the masking requirement. Give them the authority to refuse service.
Be prepared to provide your staff with the right gear, including
- face shield
so they can keep their area as safe as possible for themselves and customers alike.
Increase Sick Time to Allow for a Proper Quarantine
The time from incubation to symptoms can be up to 14 days for someone exposed to coronavirus. This means that anyone exposed while at work by another employee will miss 14 days of work, no matter how cautious they have been. Provide employees a private way to notify HR or your payroll department that they have been exposed and will need to quarantine to protect their fellow employees.
You will need to pay the required 80 hours as obliged by regulations passed at the origin of the pandemic. Make sure you also allow workers other flexibilities and do your best to take into consideration their care of children or elderly parents.
It isn’t possible to keep COVID-19 out of your home or business, but you can make it very unwelcome. Let employees know that their safety, the health of them and their families, and the well-being of their fellow employees is of critical importance during this challenging time.
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