Covic_19_Pandemic

How to Safely Return to Work after a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a number of new challenges for everyone. Businesses have been shut down and many employees sent to work from home. Slowly but surely the economy will have to get back on track to be productive again. The only way to safely return to work after a pandemic is to take extra precautions and ensure the safety of everyone involved.

In order to return to work safely during a pandemic, there’s a lot to consider. The main thing a company should focus on is reducing the risk for employees and ensuring their safety.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has provided the public with numerous guidelines and revised practices that should be followed to allow for a safe, stable return. There’s so much information out there on the pandemic it can be quite overwhelming.

Companies will need to make safety measures their number one priority by:

  • Making sure the facility is fully cleaned, disinfected and equipped with a plan for maintaining safe conditions
  • Providing a support system for employees returning to work and adjust to new realities and emotional challenges associated with the pandemic
  • Creating a plan for a safe work environment that protects employees and customers alike from exposure and transmission of Covid-19

As employees return to onsite work and people return to shared and public spaces, they are anxious about the safety of these spaces and seek validation that a space has been cleaned and disinfected before they enter. In order for this to happen, employees will need to participate in the cleaning and disinfection process. They will need resources to help them effectively complete these tasks. Employers should:

  • Provide training and dedicate resources to the cleaning and disinfection process
  • Select products to allow effective cleaning and disinfection
  • Develop a sustainable process for creating and maintaining a safe environment
  • Evaluate and identify surfaces that may be touched by multiple people throughout the day and therefore may require additional cleaning and disinfecting (like doorknobs, light switches, elevator buttons, coffee makers, microwaves, vending machines, office furniture, toilets, sinks, and thermostat controls, etc.)

 

Let’s face it, COVID-19 is everywhere. It has been an unprecedented event that has disrupted our lives and caused increased stress and anxiety for workers everywhere. While some employees can successfully manage their anxiety levels, the ongoing situation can be overwhelming for everyone.

According to the CDC, stressors associated with an infectious disease outbreak can include:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health conditions
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

There will need to be programs in place to aid employees who may be having a hard time. They can start by managing stress. Employees can elevate their quality of life and ultimately their experience at work when they return by:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Connecting with others
  • Taking frequent breaks

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends during all phases of reopening that employers should implement strategies for:

  • Basic hygiene (e.g., hand hygiene; cleaning and disinfection)
  • Social distancing
  • Identifying and isolating sick employees
  • Provide proper PPE

All workers, regardless of specific exposure risks, should:

  • Frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; when soap and running water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol; always wash hands that are visibly soiled
  • Avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Practice good respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if sick
  • Recognize personal risk factors

The CDC says reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by cleaning and disinfection is an important part of reopening public. The virus that causes COVID-19 can be killed if you use the right products. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has compiled a list of disinfectant products that can be used against COVID-19.

By taking into consideration the guidelines that have been set by the CDC and other health and safety organizations, returning to work will be less stressful for everyone. We can lessen the spread by upping our cleaning procedures and procuring proper personal protection equipment (PPE) for employees. People will want to do business with companies that are going above and beyond to ensure the safety of everyone. Businesses play a crucial role in protecting employees’ health and safety as well as limiting the negative impact to the economy and society. With strength, wisdom, patience, and perseverance, we can protect our employees while strengthening our economy again.

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