ARTICLE

Workplace Safety During COVID-19

Hygiene in the workplace has never before been so critical to the safety of businesses and their customers. Attempting to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, employees must take additional measures to protect themselves and others against this deadly virus. Though hygiene has been important for businesses focused on food or medicine production, only now is hygiene becoming a focus for every business no matter the sector. As most companies have never dealt with these precautions, it is vital that small businesses find accurate sources of information. Having a clear path as the economy opens back up will help businesses and employees avoid confusion and focus their attention on reopening their businesses. Below is a summary of steps to take in order to maintain workplace health and a few tips on how to best do so.

Best Practices for Cleaning and Disinfecting the Workplace

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has published a vast amount of guidance on the topic of workplace hygiene. This governmental body has stated that it is vital to clean as well as disinfect highly used objects and surfaces. This list includes workstations, computers, cellphones, cash registers/credit card readers, handrails, doorknobs, faucets, and sinks. To achieve the best results, prep surfaces before applying the disinfectant. Prepping unclean surfaces should be completed with soap and water. Once this portion of the process is completed, products recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should be utilized. You can find detailed information on workplace disinfecting chemicals and surfaces from the EPA here.

Sanitation Solutions

While the aforementioned list has close to 400 acceptable products, for small normal use areas, the CDC recommends using household bleach solutions if the surface can withstand the chemicals. For any solution, you should apply and allow at least 1 minute to pass before touching the surface. An important safety note is that you should ensure that the area where you are disinfecting the object or surface has proper ventilation during and after application. Furthermore, never combine bleach with ammonia or any other high-strength cleaner. According to the CDC, bleach that is unexpired will be an effective agent against coronaviruses. To maximize your bleach supply while still eliminating the virus, you need to properly dilute the bleach. A safe dilution technique is to prepare a bleach solution by mixing:

  1. 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water or
  2. 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water

A common alternative to bleach is to use alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol. For your safety, allow for proper ventilation, 1 minute between application and contact with the object and surface, and ensure disposable gloves are available to clean and disinfect.

Antonoplos & Associates prides itself on being a leader. Thus, as our office has remained open for employees only we have increased our cleaning frequency in all our common areas. This includes breakrooms, restrooms, computers, cellphones, printers, and filing cabinets. To achieve a safe workplace for everyone, we have provided individual cleaning solutions for our employees. When workplace hygiene becomes a team effort, it is not only safer but much more effective. Having a clear path as the economy opens back up will help businesses and employees avoid confusion and focus their attention on reopening their businesses.

Must I or Should I Train my Staff on Proper Cleaning Techniques?

While dependent on your sector of work, you might be required to train your staff on hazards and develop relevant communication. One example where this training is applicable is if you are introducing new chemicals that your staff will be forced to work with. Safety Datasheets are easy to create and explain to your employees how to properly use the materials. Furthermore, these will what Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) may be required. While PPE may only be necessary for deep cleans, basic safety gear such as gloves must accompany anyone who is handling these chemicals.

For certain employees, you must also train them on OSHA’s bloodborne pathogen standard. This training technique is for employees that are cleaning areas where blood or bodily fluids may be present. This training is simply making sure they are aware of the hazards and how to protect themselves in case of contact.

Should I and How to Implement and Enforce Employee Social Distancing?

As previously mentioned, areas where employees commonly comingle should be cleaned more thoroughly and frequently then less-used spaces. Breakrooms, timeclocks, and other high traffic areas should be most watched. Buy colored tape or markers to indicate six-foot distances. Furthermore, use signage and remind employees why they need to take social distancing precautions. CDC COVID-19 fact sheets can be put in the workspace to show the significance of these precautions.
Before you return to your office space or building, take some time to think about employee flows and workplace areas. Some topics to think about is how to best create physical distances between employees and workstations. Furthermore, can you stagger what days employees work from home or break times. A consideration is to limit the number of customers or employees allowed at your business at a certain time.

Are Face Coverings Necessary? What Can I do For My Employees

With new data points describing the spread and effects of COVID-19, the CDC has stated that people should wear a cloth mouth and nose covering when in community settings. Face coverings help limit the spread of the virus and are essential to stop non-symptomatic patients from infecting an entire business.

There are no guidelines for who must supply these face coverings. You can either buy them for your employees or ask that they bring their own face coverings to work. At Antonoplos & Associates, we bought both reusable face masks and disposable face masks for our employees. Reminding employees how to properly wear this gear can help protect your business.

Final Considerations

With ever-evolving information, Antonoplos & Associates is committed to updating our audience on the most recent information concerning business reopening. To stay up to date on firm news and coronavirus updates, check out our blog page here.