Operating a business during the COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges for employers trying to protect their staff and customers.
Bringing workers back to work safely during the pandemic requires adaptability and a commitment to ensuring your workplace is as safe as possible. Here, we will outline some steps you can take to make sure your workers have a reduced risk of contracting the coronavirus while on the job.
Federal and state laws require employers to maintain a safe and healthy workplace. Employees returning to work full-time after an extended absence need extra care to address at-risk workplace behaviors. Workers who have been away for a while may have taken up physically unsound practices.
Several techniques that will help reduce risk include:
- Use safety reminders prior to their shift, repeating common precautions.
- Implement five-minute breaks every hour for a few weeks to allow for a gradual progression into full-scale production.
- To help prevent injuries, make sure you respond promptly to employee complaints of discomfort.
- Try a job rotation. If that is already part of the job, increasing the frequency of the rotation may more evenly distribute the workload among various muscle groups.
- Establish pre-shift warmup and stretch routines.
- Provide returning employees with a refresher course on safety practices. Reviewing safety rules and policies can help promote a safety culture and lower the risk of injury due to unsafe practices.
While some safety precautions apply to all workplaces, other measures vary based on the risk level of your particular workforce. After you have a thorough understanding of your compliance requirements, take a close look at your workplace to determine the specific COVID-19 exposure risks facing your workers.
Your risk analysis will determine the degree in which you must implement workplace controls to mitigate coronavirus risks. Carefully review the facts and circumstances of your workers’ roles within their work environments. Keep in mind that all employers are required to conduct an assessment to determine if coronavirus presents a workplace hazard and if more protective equipment is required.
What Are the CDC Guidelines for Workplaces Regarding COVID-19?
Employers can play a major role in preventing and slowing the spread of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that the plans you have for business take into account factors such as:
- Social distancing,
- Staggering work shifts
- How many workers interact with the public
- Geographical isolation of the workplace
- Policies on employee sick leave
According to the CDC, employers should consider the number of coronavirus cases in their communities. The CDC encourages business owners to coordinate with state and local health officials to obtain accurate, up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 and respond accordingly.
The CDC recommends employers implement a plan that:
- Is specific to your workplace
- Identifies all areas with potential exposures to coronavirus
- Includes control measures to reduce exposures
Speak with your employees about changes to their workplace and seek their input. Be sure to communicate important COVID-19 information. Your plan should take into account the fact that workers might be able to spread the virus even if they don’t exhibit symptoms.
Think about how best to decrease the spread of coronavirus and lower its impact in your workplace. You can do this by implementing a plan that includes:
- Maintaining healthy operations
- Maintaining a healthy work environment
- Preventing and reduce transmission among workers
The CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering to contain respiratory droplets and help protect others. The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in settings where social distancing measures are hard to maintain, particularly in areas of significant transmission. It’s important to remember that wearing a cloth face-covering does not replace the need to practice social distancing.
How Can I Prepare My Business?
You can do the following to help prepare your business for COVID-19:
- Make sure your workplace is well-ventilated.
- Make foot traffic one-way in narrow or confined areas if possible. This includes aisles and stairwells to encourage movement at a 6-foot distance.
- Change the alignment of workstations where you can.
- Set up barriers between workers and between workers and customers. Plastic barriers, strip curtains, and similar materials can serve as impermeable dividers.
- Move credit card readers further away to increase the distance between the customer and the cashier.
- Use floor decals, colored tape, and signs to remind workers to maintain a distance of 6 feet or more from others.
- Place handwashing stations or hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol throughout the workplace for employees and customers.
- Make sure bathrooms are stocked with soap and paper towels.
How Can I Ensure My Employees’ Safety?
To ensure their safety, all workers should:
- Wear cloth face coverings when around coworkers or customers or clients.
- Wash their hands with soap and water often. When soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
- Not touch their eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with their elbow.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick and practice social distancing with coworkers and customers or clients.
- Stay home if sick.
- Identify risk factors. Some people, such as the elderly, people with preconditions like heart disease, liver disease, or diabetes, are at a higher risk for developing COVID-19 complications.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
If you have been seriously injured on the job, know that you are not alone. The compassionate workers’ compensation attorneys at Teddy, Meekins & Talbert, P.L.L.C are here to help put you on the path to recovering compensation for your injuries.
Call now or contact us online to set up a free and confidential consultation.
A native North Carolinian and a fourth-generation lawyer, Ralph W. Meekins literally had the desire to help those who are not able to help themselves as well as to be a practical life adviser to people in his blood.