By Reagan Nickl
Director of Partner and Customer Success
As businesses scramble to organize amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the fate of many workplaces remains uncertain. Some employees still go to an office each day, but it’s far from business as usual. Companies need to adapt their workplaces to the current environment, which is why we’ve put together this COVID-19 workplace safety protection checklist.
Below you’ll find actionable steps to ensure the safety of on-site employees. OSHA has also prepared a comprehensive guide on workplace safety precautions specific to COVID-19. Use these resources to plan for and address hygiene concerns and minimize possible transmission of coronavirus in your workplace.
Pre-screen employees and visitors
Health and safety begins even before you enter the workplace. Self-screen and pre-screen policies can keep the virus in-check and alert potential carriers to seek medical attention. Employees and visitors should monitor for symptoms that include fever, cough, and body aches, and avoid coming to work if they feel under the weather. Along these same lines, enact policies that reduce the comings and goings in the workplace, which works to minimize exposure.
- Encourage employees to self-screen before work
- Ask visitors to report symptoms before checking in
- Institute symptom reporting policies
- Offer alternatives to in-person interactions
Hand washing and workplace hygiene
Encourage employees to be mindful of their personal hygiene and the cleanliness of their workspaces. Make clear the importance of hygienic habits. It may seem like a reiteration of basic concepts—and it is—but it’s nonetheless vital to keep good habits top-of-mind. Cover personal habits like hand washing and face touching, as well as office cleanliness.
- Institute mandatory hand-washing policies
- Provide hand sanitizer at key touch points around the office
- Supply paper towels and tissues
- Encourage proper cough and sneeze action (into the elbow)
- Enforce sanitizing protocols for all shared workspaces
- Contract with commercial cleaners for routine sanitization
Provision and distribution of PPE
The CDC recommendeds people wear masks in public—including in the workplace. Employers should accommodate these guidelines and support employees who wish to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Create policies that comply with CDC guidelines and, where possible, provide access to PPE for employees. Set rules for acceptable PPE and educate employees on proper ways to wear it.
- Determine the need for PPE in the workplace
- Purchase and provide PPE for employees
- Share best practices and proper utilization of PPE
Social distancing in the workplace
Social distancing is a key part of the plan to reduce COVID-19 transmission. Workplaces bring us close together, but they shouldn’t needlessly expose employees to risk. Social distancing in the workplace is possible. Companies can make a variety of changes to reduce person-to-person contact throughout the day—for example, turn meetings into video conferences, or rearrange floor plans to position desks at least six feet apart.
- Create and share distancing guidelines (min. six feet apart)
- Reorganize workplaces for social distancing
- Post guidelines and suggestions for social distancing
- Provide alternatives for proximity-based tasks (ex. video conferencing)
Symptom reporting and quarantine
Coronavirus prevention in the workplace extends to when someone reports symptoms. A confirmed case doesn’t necessarily mean your workplace is a hotspot. Swift and decisive action can stymie the spread. It starts with proper symptom reporting protocols and reactive policies for dampening exposure. The most important consideration for employers is to avoid turning COVID-19 into a taboo. Employees need to report symptoms or self-quarantine without fear of being ostracized or penalized for their honesty.
- Create a policy for employees to privately report symptoms
- Create action plans for notifying employees of possible exposure
- Institute policies for self- and mandated-quarantines
- Create ready-to-go remote work alternatives for employees
Take precautions and plan ahead
Use this checklist to be proactive. To keep your workplace virus-free and your employees safe demands careful consideration of all the ways the virus spreads. This COVID-19 workplace checklist is the basic foundation for an action plan that every employer needs to develop specific to their workplace. The more you do to protect your employees, the less disruption you’ll see and the quicker you can return to normal operations after the pandemic passes.