Returning to work after months during the pandemic can be daunting for staff members. Many people are experiencing high anxiety levels as they come back, worried for their safety and that of their families, especially as children return to school. Others are grieving the loss of a loved one while dealing with added personal responsibilities.
The pandemic is by no means over, and employee concerns are valid. Therefore, employers are taking steps to make the workplace a safe and stress-free environment by adhering to regulations and implementing the necessary precautions. Here, we discuss several ways to keep your workplace safe during the pandemic.
Provide Onsite Testing to Keep Workplace Safe During the Pandemic
One way to ensure that all employees on the premises are COVID-free is to implement a testing program to keep a workplace safe environment. Select onsite medical services that offer corporate COVID testing packages which can be conducted at your place of business. These services send friendly medical professionals to visit companies, where they conduct standard PCR tests or rapid antigen tests. Results are treated confidentially to respect employees’ privacy rights. The company follows all state and local public health COVID regulations to ensure staff and test subjects’ safety.
Regular testing is a preventative step that can put employees’ minds at ease and ensure they can focus on their jobs instead of worrying about catching COVID. Employers should counsel employees who are hesitant to get tested about the advantages of testing. Should they continue to refuse to test, alternative arrangements, such as working in an isolated area or remotely, can then be considered.
Identifying Weak Spots
Before opening their facilities, employers should conduct a thorough audit of their location and operations to determine when and where employees are at risk of a COVID infection. For example, retail store owners know that checkout counters place employees in a vulnerable position. Other weak spots in an employment environment include common spaces, such as break rooms and waiting areas.
Having identified these areas, employers must implement additional measures to prevent a COVID outbreak and to keep the workplace safe. These could include limiting how many people can be in common areas at a time or closing them altogether. Perspex screens that act as barriers between employees and the public should be installed, minimizing potential exposure to COVID.
Since COVID primarily spreads through the air, an inefficient ventilation system can lead to infections as contaminated air is not effectively circulated out and replaced with clean air. A thorough assessment of a building’s ventilation is essential before welcoming employees back to a workplace safe environment.
Maintenance, repairs, or upgrades might be necessary to ensure the system works optimally. This includes increasing total airflow supply in HVAC systems and disabling on-demand settings that reduce air supply when reaching optimal temperature and room occupancy settings.
Where possible, employers should encourage workers to maximize fresh air usage by opening windows and doors to enhance air circulation through a building. This measure should only be implemented if it is safe and does not pose an unnecessary hazard to workers.
Reconsidering Your Office Layout
Physical distancing means that employees can no longer sit as close to each other as they did pre-pandemic. Many office spaces require configuration to accommodate social distancing for a workplace safe environment. This could entail changing the entire floor plan to maximize the space between desks. Plexiglass screens around desks to protect each worker should be considered when complete physical distancing is impossible.
The world of work has changed since COVID hit, and many people can do their jobs remotely. Employers should consider allowing this practice to continue if they cannot effectively implement distancing protocols among employees.
Emphasizing Employee Responsibility
Communication with employees is essential to maintain a safe workplace. Frequent emails and messages regarding COVID precautions should be sent to everyone, and signage throughout the building to encourage workers to abide by regulations must appear everywhere. Employers should provide employees with the necessary PPE (personal protective equipment), including masks and hand sanitizer.
However, none of these measures will be optimally effective if employees do not play their part. Employers need to stress the importance of each worker taking responsibility for the safety of themselves and those around them when implementing protocols designed to curb the spread of COVID.
Read more: Coping Mechanisms During COVID-19