Maintaining a Safe Workplace: Reopening Your Business during the Covid-19 Pandemic
Maintaining a Safe Workplace: Reopening Your Business during the Covid-19 Pandemic
As you know, due to COVID-19, almost all states passed Stay At Home orders and temporarily closed most of the business. Some governments are taking a step back and allowing some companies to reopen their workplaces with SOP, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These rules are made to overcome risks for employees from COVID-19.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance also available to reduce workplace risk of COVID-19. Under OSHA rules, the employer must provide a safe workplace to employees, free from all types of hazards that become the cause of death or any other serious harm.
Now I am going to explain some crucial points necessary to ensure a safe place during COVID-19 Pandemic.
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When to Allow an Employee Suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 to Return to Work
A sick Employee should not be allowed to join the workplace, but in certain conditions, if any suspected employee has to join an office with specific circumstances only. CDC also set criteria in guidance for that kind of employee; therefore, any suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 should not join the office without following this guidance.
Some of the keys point to follow are:
With the consultation of expert health care providers.
If it is determined that a person is not tested with available testing service, then he can join the office only if the below conditions are met.
● This person had no fever without the use of any medicine that reduces body temperature from at least 3 days.
● There are no any respiratory symptoms like cough, breathing problem ETC
● Minimum ten days are passed after the appearance of symptoms the first time.
Use of Cleaning Products
Proper cleaning can cure most diseases, so the use of the appropriate product can also kill viruses that cause COVID-19. A list of products provided can be used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There are some ready to use liquid sprays, soaps, hand washes, and sanitizers.
CDC also said that soap and water can save you from infection of the virus by decreasing the number of the virus on your body and surfaces you use while working. So by using these products, you can disinfect the workplace on a daily basis.
This also shows your seriousness about the health care of your employee. Because it's also the social responsibility of any organization to provide a safe environment to clients and employees, both are precious assets of your business.
Disinfect and Clean Areas/Items
In this step, we are going to identify the commonplaces of use. Those are needed to disinfect appropriately at different times and frequencies. Some of them need to be clean ones a day, and some are twice or more according to the use of this specific place or item.
For this purpose, we have to do some paperwork to notify users of each specific place; it's a way of working and cleaning this surface because each item has a different nature. There are various ways to disinfect each.
For example, cleaning solid surfaces like furniture, doors, locks can be done with any liquid cleaner, but on the other hand, electrical items like boards, fans, and refrigerators have different specifications and different procedures of cleaning. We cannot use water to clean an electric board. If you talk about computer accessories, there are entirely different concerns required to clean them safely.
There is also care to do because some of the cleaning products are not good for human health, so special care is needed. These items do not directly infect human health by the transition of poisoning items through kitchen plates, glass, or other frequently used items.
Here is a list of objects daily used in business hours:
Daily used chairs, tables, rugs, cupboards, and stands fall in this category. These things are of frequent use and must be cleaned with recommended products frequently to kill harmful viruses. Due to swear effects of COVID-19, you need specialized training of cleaning staff to follow recommended practices. Without proper kits and cleaning tools, cleaning staff also can be affected.
Electrical fitting/ appliances
Electrical buttons, lights, fans, frig, and water dispensers, are also used in the office multiple times in a day. So here also proper cleaning is required to disinfect the virus. Usually, these items are ignored by cleaning staff in routine cleaning due to the electric current's risk.
There is also not any standard protocol and training to deal with electrical items by most businesses. But in the current situation, it's necessary to make special efforts to ever come to all possible risks of said virus.
Nowadays I.T. is the backbone of every organization. Computer hardware is used by almost every employee more frequently than any other item. On the other hand, computer hardware is more sensitive than all other things of use in routine.
That's why you need to search for that type of tool which can disinfect these appliances from viruses without damaging and disturbing their working.
Keyboards, touch screens, mouse printers are also frequently used items at the office and also have different procedures to clean because of their sensitive structure.
Baths and other common areas
Staff rooms and bathrooms are mostly used by all staff frequently. These also should be cleaned by using easily available products. Most of them are already in a routine, so some extra care can quickly disinfect these places too.
Standard Practices and policies for a safe workplace
Here we are going to explain some practices and policies that need to be followed strictly to save others and you also as social and business responsibility. By following these practices, you can reduce virus transmission quickly.
To control the COVID-19 Pandemic, the USA government has implemented a social distancing policy across the country. Social distancing is a tool to control transmission speed of viruses from infected persons to healthy ones.
There are some instructions to individuals to keep a specific distance from each other when in public gatherings, business activities, and at home.
Although there is massive resistance to social distance orders because there are many economic and social loss factors involved in this matter. We have to teach them against misleading information from different sources and motivate them to follow them strictly to save them and their family.
As for a business place I am concerned, it's a vital responsibility of all employees to keep 6 feet distance between them and customers as much as possible. So avoid coming close if not necessary.
By avoiding unnecessary employee meetings, you can also make them safe from the transition of the virus. There are many options available to avoid meeting and discuss all essential matters without physical presence.
For example, you can also use video conferencing for business meetings to overcome this problem. Anyone can participate in meetings by using the necessary technology even at home or at his cabin. You just need a laptop or mobile and a good internet connection only for this purpose.
Minimize Physical contact
Limit employees to avoid physical activities like a handshake and do a practice to keep distance as much as possible. Also, teach customers to keep distance while sitting and standing on counters. For this purpose, you can place a simple notice to a visible place to implement said policy.
There is also a need to limit office gatherings to lunch and other parties. Also, teach them to avoid gathering in the break room and staff rooms.
Educate Employees Practice Regarding Hygiene
Proper awareness about any problem can solve half of the problem itself, so it's necessary to teach employees keenly about this disease and its way of effecting.
As for as COVID-19 is concerned, you can avoid it by following simple hygiene practices like:
washing hands frequently,
using hand sanitizer ( having at least 60% alcohol),
and avoiding touching hands-on nose and eyes.
Some other essential practices to follow are:
● Stay at home when infected.
● Use a face mask and wear clothes covering the body properly.
● Respond timely to any instruction passed as a proactive approach and communicate to others as much as possible.
● Check temperature daily before joining the workplace and not report to work if you have a fever.
● Consult with health care authorities if any kind of symptoms are shown.
This information is mostly based on CDC and OSHA guidance.
This information is much reliable, but you have also followed the instruction passed by federal, state, and local authorities.
You can also get information from the below platforms directly.
OSHA Guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19
CDC Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and disinfecting public places
CDC General Business FCQs
CDC Discontinuation of Isolation of persons with COVID-19
U.S. EPA List N: Disinfectants for use against SARS-COV-2
CDC: Cleaning and Disinfecting Facility