If you’re an employer planning to reopen for business, you’re no doubt wrestling with questions and challenges you’ve never encountered.
Pressure continues to mount to reopen businesses to put back to work and revive the nation’s gasping economy.
The pressure is on employers to prevent new outbreaks in the workplace. Until a safe and effective vaccine is developed, employers, employees and families will need to adopt practices to limit the spread of infection.
Dr. Catherine O’Neal, chief medical officer and a specialist in infectious disease, says employers will need to adopt new policies and procedures, and maybe even new attitudes toward employee health.
First and foremost, Dr. O’Neal says, employers need to understand and embrace their role as front-line warriors in this battle. The novel coronavirus is still with us and will spread whenever infected people spend time in close proximity to others.
Workers who’ve been at home for weeks need to start earning again, which could motivate some to conceal symptoms so they aren’t sent home. Employers will need to screen employees before they come to work to keep the workplace safe, and then arrange for the swiftest testing possible so their employee can receive prompt care if infected, or return to work quickly if they are not. Companies also will need to consider how and where to get employees tested if they do show signs.
Every workplace needs to adopt diligent disinfection procedures. Things such as keypads, doorknobs and elevator buttons need to be regularly disinfected. Hand sanitizing and hand washing supplies should be readily available, Dr. O’Neal advises.
Office workers whose desks are closer than six feet may have to be shifted around in order to prevent the spread of infection.
Many employers will want to educate and train employees how to prevent the spread of infection not only in the workplace but at home.
“Home has been the safe haven for six weeks, but as everyone the family reenters work and society they are susceptible to catching the virus and spreading to each other,” Dr. O’Neal explained. Disinfecting high-touch surfaces like door knobs and TV remote controls will be just as important as home as in the workplace.
As an employer you are not alone in the COVID-19 fight. Our Lady of the Lake provides free resources for businesses.