How can employees avoid infection with COVID-19 at work? What are the duties of employers in this regard?
- Many employees are concerned about their safety as businesses reopen after the shutdown.
- Researchers and experts have advised that companies should educate their staff about social distancing, and also provide personal protective equipment, cleaning services, and ventilation to keep their staff safe.
- Companies also need to know that the health and welfare of their employees is important for their financial interest.
Safety concerns at offices
Your workplace may not have resumed, but there are chances that it will soon do.
Staff at a Ford plant have learned that a return to work might be precarious.
The facility located in Chicago had been temporarily closed after two workers tested positive for the virus. The plant reopened for business after a session of thorough cleaning and disinfection.
Whether you work in a dental office, a factory, restaurant, or supermarket, you certainly have concerns.
Is your safety guaranteed? Many experts have given answers to this question.
Peter Dooley, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health Senior Project Coordinator advised that company heads and employers should write down their plans. Have a written plan.
Your plan should state how your employees will be protected from COVID-19 at work. The plan should include suggestions from the workers themselves and also be a living document – one that will be updated regularly.
It is important to note that physical distancing remains the most important precautionary measure.
As a rule of thumb, the more distance and space between employees, the better. Also, space and distance should be maintained between employees and customers.
So, what does this mean for workers in restaurants for example?
Well, outdoor seating will do for now. Once safety levels have reached a reasonable standard, then indoor dining may be reintroduced with the tables spaced apart.
Waiters should maintain a distance from the customers to mitigate their risk. Restaurants can have their patrons write down their orders instead of communicating them verbally to the waiter. Patrons can also place an order online beforehand.
Facemasks should be worn by both the customer and the waiter while orders are taken and food is being served. However, wearing of facemasks isn’t feasible when people are eating.
How about people working in retail establishments like supermarkets and retail stores? What safety rules apply here?
Well, customers and employees should maintain a 6-foot distance. Workers and customers should also wear facemasks.
Less congestion among workers
Some states have asked that physical barriers be set up between workstations. That’s a bit complex. Different variables apply to every industry. Companies should work with experts in industrial hygiene and get safety recommendations to protect their work environment.
A plexiglass barrier has been installed by some automakers.
Ford has given its assembly workers wristwatches that beep when they get six feet close to each other.
Employers have the option to recall workers in phases. Employees who can work from home should be allowed to do so.
By so doing, density will be checked and air circulation improved.
There is a need to increase the flow of air within the space to blow off any respiratory particles.
As an employer, you can talk with your HVAC heating and air conditioning technician to see if airflow can be increased. Use air filters of high quality and ensure that they are changed regularly.
Cleaning & disinfecting
The CDC has issued directives for cleaning and disinfecting workplaces.
Experts recommend easy access to handwashing stations at every corner in the workplace.
Mobile workers should have hand sanitizers with them.
Businesses should note that getting disinfectants might be harder than it was in the past. As such, you should have stock for your employees and also for cleaning purposes. This will reduce the risk of COVID-19 at work or infections among customers.
Personal protective equipment
Just like disinfectants, the supply chain for PPEs may not be easy to access. It may be hard to come by some items.
If a PPE is necessary for your workplace, then you must provide them.
It is also important that you purchase the right equipment, ensure that it is the right fit, and also buy enough of it so it can go round. Doing so will minimize the risk of COVID-19 at work.
How will your company benefit from this?
With the world going back to work, safety and health protocols will be put to the test.
Are these plans enough to safeguard the health or workers and customers?
By taking these suggestions seriously, you’ll minimize any potential losses to your business. Frankly, it’s a win-win situation. Your workers stay safe and your business continues to make a profit.
Employers need to know that even if their employees get sick, even if it is not a fatal condition, it reduces their productivity. You have a moral obligation to protect lives. Any attempt to take shortcuts may end in financial harm.