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Considering Workplace Safety in a COVID-19 Era

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From the looks of it, COVID-19 may be the way of life for us for quite some time. Keeping your employees as safe and healthy as possible while at work should always be a top priority, and right now, this sentiment is probably weighing heavy on many within your organization and business. While every state will have its own mandates and guidelines, there are some general guidelines you can follow to help you protect your staff and others and slow the spread. Please keep in mind these guidelines are only a sample and not all inclusive, but are a good starting point:

• Create a COVID-19 workplace health and safety plan – the purpose is to provide basic steps to reduce the risk of worker exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. There are templates available online, and here is an example from the Western Michigan University to help you get started.

• If you have not resumed business operations, check the building to see if it’s ready for occupancy – some areas to concentrate on would be checking for hazards associated with prolonged facility shutdown, including mold growth, pests, stagnant water systems which can give rise to Legionella bacteria growth, potentially leading to a Legionnaire’s disease outbreak; and take appropriate corrective actions; check the ventilation systems; increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, as long as this doesn’t pose a safety or health risk for occupants

• Identify where and how workers might be exposed to COVID-19 at work – conduct a thorough hazard assessment of the workplace; identify work and common areas where employees have close contact (within 6 feet) with others

• Include ALL employees in communication plans – including any contractors who might work at or visit the business to make sure they understand any new work processes and requirements to prevent transmission of COVID-19

• Develop hazard controls to reduce transmission among workers
-Isolate workers from the hazard including modifying and adjusting seats, furniture, workstations (whenever possible); install transparent shields or other physical barriers when social distancing is not an option; replace high touch communal items, such as coffee pots and bulk snacks with pre-packaged, single-serving items; improve central air filtration and consider using natural ventilation when possible
-Change the way people work including encouraging employees who have symptoms or family members who are home with COVID-19 to stay home for full quarantined time; conduct daily in-person or virtual health checks of employees before they enter the work site; implement a policy to prevent employees from gathering in groups; stagger shifts, start times, break times; post signs in parking areas and entrances to ask guests and visitors to phone from their cars and wear face coverings; clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces often; establish policies and practices for social distancing

Workplace Safety & Health, Inc. is here to help you open up your business and keep it open by providing programs, ideas, and solutions to keeping your employees safe. Contact us at 317-253-9737.

Mr. Griffith has a received his bachelors degree in Environmental Health from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and president of Workplace Safety & Health Company. He has over 35 years of industrial hygiene, safety, loss control and consulting experience. Chemical monitoring, noise measurement, program development and management, risk assessment and computer management of health and safety data are areas of particular strength. Mr. Griffith is a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) at the local and national level. He is also active in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

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