If you’re a business owner or manage properties or facilities, how do you go about preparing for that moment when the all-clear is sounded? What steps should you take to ensure you and the workforce is ready?
Until there is a vaccine, it’s unlikely we’ll all return back to work at once and gradual return is more likely. Certain industries will reopen before others. A gradual return gives businesses time to require employees to complete health assessments or get tested for COVID-19 before they return to work. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has said asking employees if they have symptoms of COVID-19, such as a cough or shortness of breath, and taking their temperatures is legal.
Hand-washing, use of sanitizer and no-touch receptacles for tissues are obvious measures that need to be enforced, but what other protocols will ensure working conditions are safe for returning employees?
OSHA’s guidelines for COVID-19 preparation in the workplace is a good place to start. Occupational safety and health professionals know that the best way to control a hazard is to systematically remove it from the workplace, rather than relying on workers to reduce their exposure. The most effective protection measures are referred to as engineering controls and administrative controls.
Engineering controls protect employees from work-related hazards. COVID-19 engineering controls include:
- Installing high-efficiency air filters.
- Increasing ventilation rates in the work environment.
- Installing physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards.
- Installing a drive-through window for customer service.
- Specialized negative pressure ventilation in some settings, such as for aerosol generating procedures (e.g., airborne infection isolation rooms in healthcare settings and specialized autopsy suites in mortuary settings).
Administrative controls require action by the worker or employer. Administrative controls often alter procedures to reduce or minimize exposure to a hazard. COVID-19 administrative controls include:
- Reminding sick workers to stay at home.
- Establishing alternating days or extra shifts reducing the total number of employees in a facility at once, allowing them to maintain distance while maintaining a full onsite work week.
- Providing workers with up-to-date education and training on COVID-19 risk factors and protective behaviors (e.g., cough etiquette and care of PPE).
- Training workers who need to use protecting clothing and equipment and how to put it on, use/wear it, and take it off correctly, including in the context of their current and potential duties. Training materials should be easy to understand and available in the appropriate language and literacy level for all workers.
Depending on your line of business, some of the above may be unnecessary. But as any risk manager can tell you, where there is an exposure, there should be a control. To help your business become Covid-19 ready, call MAC today. MAC is a contractor Kansas City property and facility managers have trusted for more than 25 years. MAC can help you with any facility repairs, remodeling, custom cabinetry and many other projects. Contact us today for a free consultation.