The 10 Step COVID-19 Return to the Workplace Safety Checklist
November 20, 2020
As businesses begin to bring their staff back to the workplace, the number one concern facing all employers is safety.
This begs the question, what can businesses do to ensure a safe return to work for its employees? That’s why we’ve put together this 10 step coronavirus return to the workplace safety checklist to help you with your planning.
When planning a safe return for your employees, you should also consult official government advice, including:
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) protocols
- CDC guidance for businesses and employers
- All relevant state and local laws and guidance that apply to your business
And if you’re looking for information specific to offices, you can also read our guide on how to keep your office COVID-secure.
1. Pre-Screen All Employees and Visitors
Pre-screening staff and visitors can help to prevent the virus from entering the workplace in the first place. Mobile apps and websites enable employees and visitors to screen themselves for symptoms before starting each shift or visit. If anyone fails the screening process, they will be prompted to stay home and follow public health guidance in their jurisdiction on when and how to access a COVID-19 test.
There are a number of options when it comes to symptom screening, such as whether or not to use temperature checks, and whether to complete this on-site or off-site. Read our guide to screening employees for COVID-19 symptoms and our employee COVID-19 questionnaire template for more information on this.
2. Designate Movement Flows
If you have more than one entrance into your premises, designate separate entrances and exits to prevent overcrowding at peak times. Apply the same principle to staircases, by separating them into ones for walking up and ones for walking down.
When it comes to elevators, instigate a usage rule that cuts down on unnecessary usage which you feel is sensible for your workplace. For example, able-bodied employees should walk up or down two flights of stairs instead of using the elevator.
3. Provide Access to Handwashing and Sanitizer Stations
All entrances into the building should have a hand sanitizer station. It may also be appropriate to install handwashing sinks in these locations for some businesses.
Further hand sanitizer stations should also be installed in high touchpoint locations, such as outside elevator doors, internal doors, meeting rooms, and break areas.
The provision of hand sanitizer stations should be accompanied by mandatory handwashing policies.
4. Decide if Face Masks are Appropriate for Your Business
If you are a customer-facing business where your employees have a lot of contact time with customers, you may consider it appropriate to enact a face mask mandate when staff are in public areas.
Or for non-customer facing businesses, you may consider mask-wearing to be necessary when in high traffic areas or confined spaces, such as elevators.
5. Consider What PPE Your Employees May Require
Aside from face mask usage, consider what other personal protective equipment (PPE) employees may require and how you’ll source this. For example, employees in customer-facing roles with large amounts of contact time, such as cashiers, may request perspex face shields and gloves.
You also need to consider how you will educate employees on the correct way to use, clean, and store the PPE.
6. Rearrange Workstations and Install Screens
Rearrange work stations where possible to provide 6 feet of space between each employee. Or if this isn’t possible, install screens to provide a physical barrier between employees. Apply the same principle to break areas.
Assess whether or not meeting rooms can remain in use, based on floor space, or if other better-ventilated areas would make more suitable meeting spaces.
7. Implement Clear and Concise Communication
Communication is crucial to ensure workplace safety. Regular communication to all employees should include information on the following topics:
- What your screening process is
- What an employee should do if they have symptoms, have been in contact with someone who has the virus, or if they themselves have been diagnosed with COVID-19
- The training you’re implementing to ensure workplace safety
- The social distancing measures you’re applying
- How to request and access PPE
- Movement flows around the building that employees must abide by
8. Lay Out Your Recall Procedures
Do you alternate days in the workplace and days working from home for employees? Do only essential members of staff return? Are there any employees in a high-risk category who may benefit from continuing to work from home? These are all major considerations to factor into returning to the workplace safely during COVID.
Furthermore, it may be worth gauging your staff’s perception of returning to the workplace. If they feel unsafe or unwilling to put themselves at risk, you may need to find compromises or alternatives.
9. Stagger Shift Patterns
Avoid overcrowding at the start and end of shifts by staggering shift patterns. Do the same with break patterns to reduce overcrowding in break areas.
Canvass how your staff travel to work, so you can identify those who travel by public transport. Prioritize their shift patterns so they can avoid traveling on public transport during peak hours.
10. Publish Clear Guidelines for Reporting Symptoms and Diagnoses
Employees must feel confident that they can report symptoms or a positive diagnosis without fear of being penalized. Swift reporting will enable you to contact trace other employees which can help limit the spread among a workforce.
This should include a private and confidential channel for employees to use, a contact tracing procedure, an employee quarantine policy, and home working alternatives for employees.
As you can see, there are many considerations to ensure a safe return to the workplace during COVID-19. However, by following this checklist, you’ll be setting your staff and your company up for success in the new normal.