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The last couple months have been unprecedented times with many businesses having to shut completely down or at least scale back considerably for the health and safety of our citizens. At some point, you as a business owner will decide it’s time to re-open, and we are seeing these steps being taken in some industries right now, including the auto industry.

How the United States will go from widespread quarantine to what is being called the “new normal” will most likely happen in waves. Even though we are unsure what this will really look like, what we can definitely speculate is there will be plenty of apprehension with our employees, and if our business is consumer-focused, such as restaurants or retail stores, for our customers as well.
Employers’ back-to-work plans will vary considerably depending on geography. Areas that saw fewer confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths will have a much easier time convincing workers it is safe to return to work than those cities hit much harder.

Employers have a duty under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) to make sure they provide a safe workplace. One step employers can do no matter what industry is give their employees and their customers some peace of mind by making sure their workplace has been tested and cleared for the COVID-19, and new processes are in place including ongoing cleaning and sanitizing, keeping workers more separated, continuing to wear masks, limiting in-person meetings and even taking employee temperatures when entering facilities.

As you begin looking at specific protocol to ensure the safety of your business, Workplace Safety & Health Co has a program to help you deemed your workplace free from COVID-19. Here is a brief overview of our services:

1. Visually inspect the premises for obvious contamination;
2. Determine through interviews and observations which surfaces are most commonly touched, worked at, used by your employees, etc.;
3. Devise a strategy to select surfaces to sample for the presence or absence of COVID-19;
4. Collect environmental swab samples following specific handling protocol;
5. Send samples to an accredited laboratory;
6. Generate a full report, including but not limited to results and recommendations;
7. Oversee cleaning, if required, and
8. Retest until results are satisfactory.

Re-opening our economy sooner rather than later is a goal we all are hoping for, but we must take steps to ensure our employees and customers trust we are doing whatever we can to keep them safe. Workplace Safety & Health is ready to help you do just that – 317-253-9737.

Updates concerning the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, are happening at a pretty rapid pace, which can lead to panic and misinformation. Workplace exposure is a concern, and many businesses are sending out information to their employees to limit the spread of germs and prevent infection. The basics are as follows:

• Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throw the tissue away after use (do not cough or sneeze in your hands) – wash your hands
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick
• Stay home when you are sick
• Clean an disinfect doorknobs, handrails, switches, handles, computers, telephones, bathrooms – any common surfaces touched by many people
• Avoid shaking hands with people – fist bumps or elbow bumps are a good option!

Here are a few other tips for protecting the workplace and your employees:

• Remind and reinforce employees to wash their hands by placing signs around the building and especially in public areas, such as bathrooms and food preparation spaces
• Routinely clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace and provide employees with disposable wipes, so commonly used surfaces can be wiped down before each use
• If your business can operate, allow employees the flexibility to work from home
• Make sure your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance – and that your employees are well aware of these policies
• Advise employees to check for travelers’ health notices in regard to their travel destinations – and postpone or cancel any business-related travel to those regions most impacted by COVID-19. For the most current list, visit the CDC website – https://www.cdc.gov/travel
• Provide open dialogue opportunities for your employees to discuss their concerns

During these uncertain times, you have most likely considered your business’s air quality. Even though we cannot test directly for Coronavirus in the air or on surfaces since the focus right now is human testing, we can test for other parameters that if they come back favorably, it would indicate that the environment is generally clean and less apt to be contaminated with viruses or other pathogens. This can provide a level of comfort to your employees, when most other current news is unsettling. Testing the air quality with respect to bacteria, mold, gases and other particles shows your employees you are concerned about providing a clean working environment. Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. has conducted hundreds of indoor air quality surveys and is efficient at assessing all types of occupational environments.

Your employees have a right to a safe working environment. As an employer, it is your responsibility to take steps to reduce transmission opportunities among staff and protect those who are at a higher risk for adverse health complications (older employees and those who are immune compromised). At the time of this writing, there is still much to be learned about COVID-19 and its future impact, but you can take steps now to protect your most valuable assets – your employees.

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