A global pandemic can cause chaos and commotion everywhere. Cities are on lockdown, businesses are closed, communities are being quarantined and what-not. As this can pose a grave threat of an economic fallout that can lead to an even bigger problem of recession, cities are slowly opening up to keep the economy rolling. But this move is not without a stern warning of caution to everyone especially businesses to keep employees and clients safe while in operation during a pandemic.
Office Safety Protocol
Other businesses have gone the digital and remote work approach for their employees. But this is not applicable to many other businesses that are engaged in transactions that need to be consummated face to face or would need office or plant equipment that cannot be brought home.
So, if you are one of those that would need your employees to report to the office or factory then here are some of the office safety protocol that you can impose in your own facility.
Be guided by the health advisories issued by regulatory agencies
In an active global pandemic, you can expect health advisories being issued every now and then. It could contain an information as to the statistics, which areas are considered high risk, and other updates that could be very relevant and valuable to your business. Keeping abreast of the latest can help you decide on ways to keep your employees and clients or customers safe while in your office.
Clean and disinfect
Before letting your employees report back to work, you have to ensure that they are safe to work. So, you have to do a thorough cleaning and disinfecting. You can initially call in the professionals to do the disinfection and train your own utility personnel to do the maintenance.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, issued a guide in cleaning and disinfection of community facilities. You can use this as your reference in crafting your cleaning and disinfecting protocol for your utility personnel and all your other employees. After all, heath and safety should be everyone’s responsibility.
Check air ventilation system and air quality
Part of your health and safety protocol is to ensure that the air circulating around the office is clean and quality. You have to check your HVAC system if you have and monitor if you need additional filtration to remove air impurities.
Not Allow Anyone With Symptoms to Enter Office
While checking each person entering the office is tasking, it is one way to protect everyone and prevent infection and contamination. Other establishments have put up a health monitoring area before the main entrance of the office to do temperature checks with the use of thermal scanners.
For your employees that manifest symptoms, you have to let them stay home under quarantine if found necessary, with the assurance that it will not be taken against them.
Implement health and sanitation measures within the office
Prevention does not end at disinfecting the office. It is important that you enforce strict health and sanitation protocol that must be complied with by everyone in the office including clients or customers. One is to step on the foot disinfecting mat before entering the office. This should also be properly checked if the mat still has disinfectant and to add if it has slowly dried up.
You can also put up Sensor operated sanitizer or alcohol dispensers in conspicuous areas. For additional safety, your rest rooms have to be equipped with hand soap, tissues, disposable toilet seat covers or wipes. For employees, they have to be provided their personal sanitizers, disposable towels to clean their desks and no-touch trash cans too.
Use of PPE
Aside from face masks, other offices require the use of other PPE such as gloves, face shields, goggles and shoe covers within the premises. They have to be properly fitted and be worn conscientiously when required. But while these are required they shouldn’t be taken as a measure to replace proper hygiene, cough etiquette and frequent hand-washing.
Enforce Social or Physical Distancing
This is the battlecry of health agencies from all over the world – for communities to practice physical distancing to prevent infection or contamination. To do this, you have to limit the number of people entering the office. Others have imposed work rotations or flexible schedules and work from home arrangements to limit the number of people and the number of hours that your employees have to stay in the office.
Congregating in common areas in the office such as the pantry, stock room or lobby, must be strictly prohibited. For meetings, teleconferencing is encouraged to minimize face-to-face contact and communication. Delivery of products to customers’ homes can also be implemented to keep them from going to your office or facility.
Implement Engineering Controls
Aside from the constant reminders and other measures put in place, you must also do some engineering control to your facility if necessary. There are cases where your physical office layout can fall short of the requirement for physical distancing. You can install transparent shields or physical barriers to separate co-workers from each other and from customers.
You can also install decals on the floor as a cue for people on where each must stand to keep the required distance from each other. Or, arrow markings as guide on the direction on where they should go so there will only be one flow of traffic.
Educate Employees and Clients
You have to educate your employees and clients as to why you are doing these things and not just have them comply. They have to understand the risks of moving around and that what you are doing is a preventive measure that will protect everyone.
You can put up signages all over the office and other conspicuous spaces in your premises containing relevant information about the ongoing global pandemic and the sanitation measures that they must do to help prevent its spread.
All Hands on Deck
It is being emphasized that health and safety in the workplace is the responsibility, not just of the business owners or managers, but of everyone. The customers too have the responsibility to follow the health protocols of your business. So in the time of a global pandemic, all hands must be on deck, and sanitized of course.
They might find your health and sanitation protocol as an overkill but in these days, it is better to err in the side of caution.