In many states, non-essential businesses will be allowed to reopen starting May 1 – The White House and the CDC have partnered to offer general guidelines for employers. But reopening your business after the coronavirus quarantine isn’t like turning on a light switch. It’s a multi-step process, and many companies will need help from workplace safety experts like National Safety Compliance.
Your rebooted workplace will look a lot different than it did in the days before COVID-19. Some of the safety precautions will be temporary, but many will become permanent policies. For example, one study estimates that one-third of all U.S. jobs can be performed remotely. Thousands of businesses that were reluctant to let workers telecommute or participate in online training are now enthusiastically jumping on board.
Here are some ways you can prepare your workplace for a safe reopening:
Reconfigure the workplace
- Ensure that all employees are separated by the recommended 6-ft. distance. You may need to stagger employee hours to make that possible.
- For the remainder of this year, you should remove all shared water coolers where germs can easily spread. Instead, encourage employees to bring their own bottled water from home.
- The crowded, boisterous lunch room will disappear for a while. Make sure the tables in your lunch or break rooms are spaced six feet apart, with just one chair per table.
- Determine whether you need additional filters for the HVAC system.
- Install no-touch trash cans and consider installing sliding doors to eliminate virus transmission on doorknobs.
New daily routines
- Designate a workplace safety coordinator to oversee COVID-19 policies and procedures
- Check employees’ temperature before allowing them to enter the workplace
- Disinfect the workplace throughout the day. Make sure every employee has been trained in cleaning/disinfecting procedures for door knobs, desk surfaces, phones, computers, etc.
- Instruct employees not to touch each other’s phones or desk surfaces.
- Make sure that you’re adequately stocked with the proper cleaning supplies.
Training new hires
It’s important to make sure that new employees are promptly trained in your company’s infectious disease practices and policies.
Here are some key points to communicate to new hires:
- What to do if you’re feeling sick (don’t report to work, self-quarantine, etc.)
- Your company’s policies on telework, staggered hours and sick leave
- Your company’s guidelines for cough/sneeze etiquette, handwashing, sanitizing workstations and equipment, social distancing, etc. NSC has a free addition addition to your labor law poster that summarizes many of these points.
- Explain your company’s work travel policies designed to keep employees safe.
Taking Disinfecting To The Next Level
The days of routine janitorial cleanup are over. Every business must now take extra steps to ensure that the workplace remains clean and disinfected.
Here are some highlights of the CDC recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting your facility:
- Wear disposable gloves and gowns for all cleaning/disinfecting tasks, including trash emptying
- Clean first with soap and water
- Concentrate on high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, faucets, countertops, desk surfaces, keyboards, toilets, sinks, etc.
- After cleaning with soap and water, disinfect these surfaces with an EPA-registered household disinfectant or diluted household bleach (1/3 cup of bleach per gallon of water) (source)
- Use appropriate cleaners on soft surfaces like carpets, rugs and drapes
- Consider putting wipeable covers on electronic devices
- Wash hands thoroughly after each cleaning/disinfecting task
Check State and CDC Guidelines
Before returning to work, carefully review your state’s guidelines for reopening. In many cases, businesses that serve the public must operate at reduced occupancy for a period of time – and numerous businesses will require employees to wear face masks and gloves on the job.
Small business owners can also get guidance from the CDC about how to safely resume operation. But you’re still likely to have many questions. For more than 21 years, our company has been helping businesses operate safely. If you have questions or concerns, call us toll-free today at 1-877-922-7233, use the chat link, or e-mail us.
National Safety Compliance is here and ready to help your company stay safe as America gradually gets back to business.