People are returning to work across America and the world. However, the threat of the current pandemic has not gone away. The recent death of an otherwise healthy vaccinated man demonstrates the need for continued precautions.
What can you do as an employer to ensure the safety of your staff? Here are five tips for keeping your workplace clean and safe during COVID-19.
1. Improve the quality of your indoor air
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), up to 30% of all buildings generate excessive complaints about indoor air quality. The problem extends far beyond the smell of reheated salmon that escapes from the rest room. It pays to have someone inspect your HVAC system at least once a year and fix any issues.
One action you should take before returning to the office is to change your air filters. Switching to filters with the highest Minimum Efficiency Ratio (MERV) value removes the maximum number of viruses from your indoor atmosphere. Germs often cling to larger particles, and removing them from your ducts helps prevent disease.
In addition, it helps to improve ventilation where possible. Open windows and use ceiling fans to improve air circulation.
2. Increase hygiene stations and supplies
Washing your hands is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. It costs relatively little to post reminder signs in the restrooms. This could be the prompt someone needs so they don’t rush to their post without practicing good hygiene.
You can’t always get to a sink after touching something nasty. Please install hand sanitizer stations in the workplace to encourage your staff to clean their paws more frequently. Here, the signs are also useful. It helps remind people that you need to rub your hands together until they are dry and use enough product to cover all surfaces.
3. Encourage masking indoors
When creating your sanitation stations, you may want to include one or two boxes of disposable masks. They cost relatively little – the amount you get back on infectious disease prevention can more than pay for your purchase in a short time.
Remember, COVID-19 isn’t the only germ you need to watch out for during cold and flu season. Although this is an unusual practice in the West, many Asian countries encourage the wearing of masks to prevent the spread of disease. You will get some funny looks on the streets of Hong Kong if you venture outside sneezing or coughing in the open.
The near disappearance of influenza during COVID-19 lends credence to the argument that masking prevents the spread of germs. Even though most communities have removed government decrees on wearing masks, you may consider requiring them for the office if you want to reduce the number of sick days your staff take.
4. Create outdoor workstations
Most scientists agree that outdoor activities are safer when it comes to preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Germs have unlimited space to spread and dissipate, making it less likely that any of them will land in your lungs and take hold.
In addition, exposure to plants and fresh air can improve the immune function of your employees. Research on forest swimmers shows increased activity of natural killer cells after spending a night in the woods. Consider creating outdoor workstations, or at least adding outdoor seating for employees to have lunch.
5. Consider temperature controls
You can pick up a non-invasive gun-type thermometer for around $ 20 at many department stores. Should you invest in one and zap your staff before they enter the building?
It could prevent some diseases, but not all. For example, about 40% of COVID-19 patients present as asymptomatic – meaning they don’t have the stereotypical fever, loss of smell, and headaches typical of many.
Therefore, adding temperature controls could prevent some, but not all, infected people from entering the building. If you know you have medically vulnerable staff members, you may want to consider this step, but be aware that it is not fail-safe.
6. Improve leave practices for sick staff members
However, you want to avoid the following scenario: A staff member shows up for work symptomatic because they will miss rent if they take a sick day. Such practices harm both your other employees and customers. Unfortunately, it is often the workers who have the most contact with the public who can afford to take the least a day off.
Therefore, please consider expanding your PTO policies. The United States is unique among industrialized countries in that it does not require the law to impose sick leave and paid family leave. This fact does not mean that the current rules are correct, adequate or fair, especially to prevent the spread of disease. It costs much more to replace a valuable staff member than to schedule a few days away from the office to minimize the risk of contagion.
Make your workplace a clean and safe place during COVID-19
As people return to work, employers have a great responsibility in protecting their staff from illness. Make your workplace a clean and safe place during COVID-19 with these tips.