With lockdowns lifting around the world and people beginning to go back to work, workplace safety is once again a concern. Businesses will have to follow government safety measures to keep their staff safe in order to reduce the risk of contagion and further lockdowns. This varies from country to country and industry to industry, but many of the measures overlap. You will learn about some of the most common Covid safety requirements businesses are implementing in this post.
How Does COVID Spread?
To understand the appropriate safety measures you must take to keep your employees safe; you must first understand how this virus is transmitted. According to the World Health Organization, there are multiple ways by which the virus spreads. The virus is thought to be transmitted primarily between people close to one another, often within 1 meter. An individual can become infected by inhaling aerosols or droplets containing viruses or coming into direct contact with their eyes, nose, or mouth.
The virus could also propagate in cramped and poorly ventilated interior environments, where individuals typically spend more extended amounts of time, such as in an office environment. Due to their suspension in the air or their ability to reach a distance of over a meter, aerosols remain the most dangerous form of transmission. People can also contract the disease by touching surfaces contaminated with the virus without first washing their hands. Therefore, any measures you put in place must consider a higher chance of transmission in an office setting. There are many things you can do to reduce the possibility of it spreading and closing your business.
Place Screens On Each Desk
This step is especially necessary if you have an open plan design with multiple team members sitting close to one another. An open-plan office is an office with no partitions. Everyone in the office can see and hear each other. This type of layout allows for a more collaborative and creative environment. The benefits of this type of design include reduced cost and the ability to provide better service by having people work together.
When contagion risks are taken into consideration, these benefits also translate into disadvantages. One easy and highly effective measure is to use perspex screens for desks, which you can place on every desk in the area. This still allows for collaboration, but it provides a shield to protect workers from airborne droplets. As you shall see in the next point, although masks are the ideal solution, wearing them for extended periods can be inconvenient, especially if you need to use the phone or speak clearly.
Ensure Staff Wear Masks Or Face Shields
You can either provide your team with masks or allow them to use their own, but the preferred option is to use an N95 face mask or shield. An N95 mask is a type of respirator with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter and up to 95% protection against most respiratory illnesses, including COVID. This mask is designed to protect the wearer against airborne toxic substances or particles up to 5 microns that are small enough to enter the lungs when breathed in. Masks without an effective filter may allow larger particles into the lungs while protecting them from smaller ones.
A medical face shield is a protective device covering the entire facial area and preventing a person from spreading or breathing in potentially harmful aerosols. The shield can be made of many types of materials, such as metal, plastic, or glass. However, the most common material is polycarbonate. You can compare these to the perspex desk screens mentioned previously, but they allow greater flexibility as you can move around with them. Nonetheless, a desk screen is preferable for each desk, as these face masks can become uncomfortable with prolonged use.
Implement Physical Distancing
It is crucial to separate your personnel from other individuals, such as other workers or customers, to ensure their safety. In confined or poorly ventilated environments, a safe distance of at least six feet is recommended, but this is not a guarantee. In offices, workers are often required to work near one another and clients and customers for long periods.
Nevertheless, maintaining physical separation from such people at work is critical for preventing COVID from spreading. To do this, you must rearrange your workspace to ensure the recommended 6 feet from others. You can mark these locations on the floor using tape. You should also extend these measures to communal areas such as canteens and kitchen areas.
Train And Educate Workers About Your COVID Policies
Managers should get training on how to put COVID policies into action. To ensure a safe and healthy workplace, you must communicate appropriate workplace rules clearly, regularly, and in various ways. Information should be made available in simple English to unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk employees and people with disabilities.
All employees, contractors, and any other personnel on the premises should receive training when necessary. In addition, you must ensure that workers are aware of their rights to a safe and healthy workplace, including how to reach out to a safety representative if they have safety-related concerns. It is also important that they know they have a right to speak out about occupational health and safety concerns without fear of disciplinary action.
Keep Ventilation Systems In Good Working Order
Proper ventilation is crucial to an office or workspace. It enables fresh air to come in and also exhausts stale air outside. An effective ventilation system allows for safe working conditions, optimum productivity, and enhanced employee morale. A ventilated office space aims to keep out unwanted pollutants and toxins while keeping all people safe from exposure. Improved ventilation to minimize viral particle concentrations in indoor air will reduce the risk of virus transmission among employees. When correctly maintained, ventilation systems are an essential control strategy for limiting the spread of COVID in all indoor workplace settings.
The strategies in this post will protect workers from infection and lead to a more productive workplace. From protective desk screens to ensuring efficient ventilation systems, there are many things you can do to keep you and your team safe from COVID infection.