5 Ways to Improve Employee Safety During COVID
People are a company’s greatest asset. During this challenging time of COVID-19, it is more important than ever for companies to take all of the necessary precautions to protect the team safety and health of their employees in the workplace. We’ve outlined five key ways for your team to help improve employee safety during COVID-19.
1. Manage Capacity Limits in Your Space
By now, we all know that COVID is more likely to spread indoors, in confined spaces, with prolonged exposure to other people. Momentarily gone are the days of tight-knit workspaces where you could bump elbows with your co-workers while sitting at your desk. During COVID, new capacity limits should be set in order to ensure employees can properly social distance within the workplace. It is important to first understand the maximum number of employees that you want in your office on a given day. In addition to helping employees stay six feet apart at their desks, think about the traffic patterns within your office as well. Where could there be bottlenecks? The kitchen? Bathroom line? How can you ensure there are six feet of distance between people in all places within the office? When in doubt, be conservative in your estimations. If you have a team that is spread across multiple floors, you might also consider creating capacity limits by floor.
Once you’ve determined the capacity limits, make sure that all employees are aware of the new limits. Think through how employees will know when capacity limits are reached so that people do not commute into an office that is at capacity and then not be able to go into the office.
2. Set-up Daily Employee Health Screening
One way to help limit the spread of COVID-19 is to test for the virus. While it is not feasible for most companies in the US to currently administer a COVID test every day to every employee, there are other precautions you can take to help protect employee safety. Many companies are requiring employees to complete a health screening survey before coming on-site. This survey could ask questions about potential symptoms and exposures, and depending on how the employee fills it out, the employer can determine if the employee is allowed on-site or not. Reference our blog on Top Health Survey Questions to Ask for ideas. Always make sure to consult your legal team before implementing any system that asks employees for health data.
Some companies are also requiring temperature screening, either for the employees to do at home prior to coming on-site, or implementing temperature screening tests on-site prior to entering the office.
3. Enable Contact Tracing
While we hope that your office is never exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, it is important to be prepared for this potential risk. Contract tracing in the workplace is a crucial aspect of ensuring employee safety against COVID-19. In order to accurately contact trace, you must know who has been on-site, on what day, at what time. If you learn that an employee has a confirmed case of COVID-19, or has been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, you will then need to quickly confirm who else was on-site on the same day as the exposed person. You will then need to quickly notify those individuals of their potential exposure. You can think of putting a process in place to prepare for this potential scenario as insurance – you might not need to use it, but it will be extremely valuable if you do have to use it. Many companies use their IWMS for this.
4. Encourage Handwashing, Mask-Wearing, and Frequent Sanitizing
During this time, it is important to over-communicate and encourage employees to adopt the healthy habits of handwashing, mask-wearing, and sanitizing, to minimize any potential spread of COVID-19 and protect team safety. Consider displaying signs around the office, especially around high-touch areas, about washing hands and sanitizing. Some companies are providing employees with their own personalized hand sanitizer and even adding special hand sanitization stations throughout the office. It is also important to encourage mask-wearing when inside shared rooms. Encourage the leadership team to lead by example to encourage the adoption of this habit. You could even find ways to make mask-wearing more fun –– have a themed mask day!
5. Provide Flexibility
While the four above ideas are great ways to help keep employees safe while in the workplace, make sure employees know that their health and safety, as well as the health and safety of their colleagues, is more important than coming on-site if there is any potential risk of exposure to COVID-19. Employers should encourage employees to stay home if they, or someone in their household, is feeling sick or has had any potential exposure to the virus. Staying home when sick should not be looked down upon, but rather should be applauded as an action to keep everyone healthy. Employers should consider how they can support employees to be most successful in this new dynamic work environment that will combine office and home.