As businesses across Australia slowly begin to reopen, there’s renewed focus on what constitutes a safe and healthy workplace. From the start of the COVID-19 epidemic, business owners and CEOs have worked hard to maintain the well-being of their workforce. Now a new set of challenges arises, as employers begin the cautious journey to recovery.
Here are key considerations to keep in mind for the protection of your employees and your business:
Comply with local, state, and national guidelines.
No one expects a business owner to be the expert on coronavirus. In most parts of the country, recommendations for opening the workplace have been established by premiers, or at the federal level by Health Minister. Since these guidelines differ from state to state, make sure you know the restrictions and other recommendations made by authorities in your area, and do your best to comply with them.
Clarify safety measures being put in place.
Depending on the nature of your workplace, safety precautions may take different forms. What’s important is clearly outlining and describing the measures you plan to take, such as:
- Making hand sanitiser available throughout the workplace
- Confining occupancy of any given location (break room, conference room, etc.) to certain numbers
- Placement of protective barriers and sneeze guards
Ensure cleaning of all surfaces.
Cleaning the workplace on a regular basis is a new top priority, you need to pay close attention to areas most often touched by groups of people, including desks, light switches, phones, keypads, kitchen and bathroom taps, and door handles.
Your cleaning staff may already be wearing disposable gloves as part of their cleaning regimen. It might also be a good idea to equip them with masks and any other specialised equipment that will help keep them safe and make it easier for them to clean your workplace.
Be responsive to individual employee needs.
Some of your employees will likely be at greater risk than others of contracting the virus. Some employees may prefer to continue working from home. Keep your employee work policies as flexible as possible, in order to address these needs and preferences. (You won’t get more productivity out of an employee who feels stressed in the workplace.)
In the same respect, establish a clear policy on reporting illness if and when it occurs. Encourage employees to report any symptoms and make it acceptable for them to self-isolate at home. Chain Store Age suggests that you “not require a health care provider’s note the to validate sickness, as medical offices may not be able to provide such documentation in a timely manner.”
Have a policy in place addressing visitors to the workplace.
Again, depending on the business, it may be common (or was, in the recent past) to have customers, package delivery people and other visitors enter your workplace. Without a policy in place to address this, you’re simply increasing the risk of contagion among your employees.
Post signs outside your physical location letting people know they won’t be admitted if they have had symptoms of coronavirus or recently been in contact with actively infected individuals. Offer masks to those who are permitted to walk around the premises.