Preparing your workplace for COVID-19 restrictions has been on everyone’s mind. Since it first originated in Wuhan, China at the tail-end of 2019, coronavirus has rampaged its way around the world leaving a trail of death and upheaval in its wake. Thankfully now, as we reach the first anniversary of COVID-19, it seems we may finally have the promise of a return to semi-normality with the release of vaccines proven to counter the disease.
However, just because vaccines have been cleared for use, does not mean the dangers of the virus will simply disappear and it will take many months to roll out protection across entire populations. Meanwhile, it is expected restrictions could continue to be relaxed as we come out of the major danger period of the winter months, potentially posing difficulties for employers in keeping their workers safe.
Precautions you can take before the return of your workforce
Before employees start making their way back to work, you would be well-advised to start making preparations to maintain a safe environment. Nobody would intentionally spread the virus, but COVID-19’s incubation period and ability to produce asymptomatic carriers makes it particularly important you take sensible precautions against possible transmission.
Here are just a few ways of preparing your workplace you can take to help prevent the spread of the disease:
Perform a risk assessment:
Physical risk areas include any space where people congregate in close proximity which, unfortunately, pretty much covers all workplaces. However, it’s also essential you look at other processes and procedures in preparing your workplace to mitigate risk as much as possible –for example, shared office equipment, desks, and chairs must be sanitized and cleaned regularly. You can read more here about risk assessment and mitigation measures to take.. Taking measures to maintain physical distancing is vital – as is installing barriers and screens where required. You may also want to think about training staff on the risks of contact and avoiding close proximity.
Limit the number of workers:
An opportunistic disease like COVID loves big groups so, where possible, begin preparing your workplace by limiting the number of people, particularly in enclosed spaces. Many companies have found success in operating shift patterns with workers to reduce the number of people attending the workplace at any given time. While this has resulted in changed working hours, most employees have reported feeling safer in less busy environments.
Keep your workplace clean and hygienic:
Clearly, the greatest protection against the disease in preparing your workplace is to reduce exposure. Research suggests COVID-19 can survive on surfaces like keyboards, desks, and chairs for many hours (it can live for days on many materials and fabrics) so you must maintain a clean and hygienic workplace. Companies like Bee Line Support offer medical-grade cleaning for commercial businesses, including deep-cleaning suitable to clear coronavirus particles.
Manage customer/contractor numbers:
Depending on your type of business, you may want to think about limiting visitor numbers at your premises – including customers and contractors. The retail sector is, by nature, particularly reliant on footfall and customers entering a physical space. Be sure to implement restrictions based on the capacity of your premises and its ability to allow recommended distancing to be maintained. You should also consider the benefits of initiating one-way systems to facilitate the flow of people.
Implement additional hygiene measures:
When preparing your workplace, as standard, you should insist on mask-wearing within your buildings. Also, think about hand hygiene and install sanitizers in convenient locations around your workplace. Depending on the size of your company and how busy your buildings tend to be, you may also want to think about temperature scanning before allowing entry to your premises. Additionally, you should provide self-sealing bins for visitors to dispose of potentially contaminated tissues or previously used masks and PPE equipment.
Be sure to make all employees aware of any policies pertaining to vaccinations that you may require. If you are not sure how to go about wording such memos, you can use a sample Employee vaccinations memo from Zenefits.
Also consider cleaning products that can get the job done. You can use purchased products to clean the air and adapt your homemade cleaning products to keep surfaces, walls, and floors clean.
Final Thoughts on Preparing Your Workplace
Preparing your workplace doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds. Just by following these tips, you can be well on your way to a workplace that can handle any COVID-19 requirements.