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Many states across the country are unveiling plans to reopen the economy in the coming weeks. While that’s hopefully a sign the current pandemic will be over sooner rather than later, there’s no sure way to know.
There is, however, ways to ensure your employees can feel confident and safe returning to the workplace. While there’s no way to completely avoid the risk of spreading COVID-19, measures can be taken to dramatically reduce that chance.
While your organization is discussing reopening, here’s a couple things organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommending doing as you plan your reopening:
Review guidance from state, local entities
This may perhaps be the most important step before reopening – see what plans the state and local governments have in place. This may impact how and when your business can open, and at what capacity it can operate. These guidelines can, and likely will, vary from state to state.
Understand the risks
As mentioned above, there’s still a risk to expose employees to COVID-19 even after reopening. That means your company should do a thorough risk assessment before reopening. That means review all guidance from OSHA, state and local agencies and even industry associations. The local health department would also be a good resource.
When compiling a risk assessment there’s a few things to note.
- Identify hazards – Do a walkthrough of the facilities and note any possible high-risk areas where people will gather. Also examine what responsibilities employees will perform and if it causes them to be potentially exposed to COVID-19.
- Decide who may be harmed, and how – Make note of any high-risk individuals in your company, usually those individuals with preexisting and/or underlying medical conditions.
- Assess risk – Analyze the risks your business is facing. Is this risk likely to occur? What would the impact be?
- Control risk – Detail ways to manage the risk. Can certain operations be temporarily eliminated that help avoid COVID-19 exposure? Are there possible preventative measures to take?
- Monitor results – Once this assessment is in place, monitor its effectiveness and reassess if needed.
Create a response team
This may be overlooked, but creating a team with cross-functional abilities can help increase communication throughout the organization, and help keep everyone informed.
What consists of the response team will vary by organizations, but an effective one will have:
- Team leads
- Prevention and protocol lead
- Sanitization lead
- Communication lead
Having this variety can assure employees no step was missed. It just takes one misstep to turn a workplace into a hot zone.
For a printer-friendly checklist of actions to consider while returning to the workplace, download this flyer.
For more information about COVID-19 and the workplace, see Apex’s Resource Page.