The word safety took on an expanded meaning in 2020 with more considerations than ever before to keep employees out of harm’s way. While it’s still vitally important to pay attention to the usual workplace safety protocols, our industry must now implement best practices to prevent Covid-19— a known deadly invisible hazard— from adversely affecting the people who make our businesses successful.
At MOORING, we’ve researched the most effective ways to improve workplace safety, including CDC guidelines. Below, find 13 ways to increase safety so that we can all embark on a 2021 journey focused on health and prosperity.
WAYS TO IMPROVE FACILITY LAYOUT
Remote officing. Working from home (WFH) became standard practice across many industries in 2020 and remains a viable option for millions of workers. Even if it’s not possible for each employee to work from home every day, even a staggered work-from-home schedule can reduce in-office capacity, thereby reducing exposure. Some businesses are finding success with designated A and B teams, with teams trading off days spent in the office. Offering a balance of on-site and work-from-home days can reduce WFH fatigue, but also give employees a break on daily commutes and associated expenses.
Social distancing. Another 2020 buzzword that applies as much to the workplace as it does public spaces, social distancing is an easy way to mitigate risk. Separate desks with at least six feet between them, mark spaces in public spaces such as break rooms and reception areas with “stand here” indicators that you’ve made yourself or purchased online, limit capacity to one person at a time in restrooms, and allow for separation between people sitting in conference rooms, meeting rooms, and lobbies.
Traffic flow. You’ve seen it at grocery stores and other retailers, but implementing a one-way traffic flow wherever possible reduces the chance of getting too close to co-workers.
Signage. Print and display clear, easy-to-understand signage listing the safety protocols that are in place and what’s expected of employees, vendors, and other visitors. The CDC has a variety of posters available for immediate download. Or use them as a starting point for creating signs relating to procedures specific to your own unique corporate structure.
FEATURES THAT ENHANCE EMPLOYEE SAFETY
Ergonomics. Though this has nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic, proper desk setup shouldn’t be underestimated for comfort and joint health when seated for long periods of time.
General safety protocols. Don’t let focusing on Covid-19 procedures push normal safety protocols aside, from making sure all work areas and behind-the-scenes areas are well lit to ensuring that floor surfaces are outfitted with anti-slip materials.
Sanitation stations. Installing additional sinks doesn’t make sense for a majority of office spaces, but adding hand sanitizer dispensers (preferably no-touch) throughout the building can be done efficiently and affordably.
No-touch products. In addition to hand-sanitizing stations, consider no-touch options such as soap dispensers, faucets, and other restroom amenities, as well as motion-sensitive or voice-activated lighting. Implementing smart devices that can be controlled by smartphone apps can also work in certain situations.
Enhanced HVAC systems. Especially important in workspaces where manual ventilation options, such as opening windows, can’t be utilized, consult with an HVAC professional to recommend options that rely less heavily on recycled air. Advanced filtration systems are also available to reduce the amount of air that’s recirculated in any given space. Portable HEPA filtration systems can also increase air quality and safety in more affordable and versatile ways.
UV lamps. The Food & Drug Administration has several guidelines on ultraviolet radiation lamps that are beneficial at destroying bacteria and certain viruses, including their limitations.
Plexiglass barriers. Whether they are clear for places where making visual contact is important (such as a reception desk) or opaque for privacy, barriers made of plexiglass or other sturdy materials can provide additional protection from exposure to airborne droplets.
Thermo sensors. Simply taking a person’s temperature can miss more than half the affected people according to the FDA. Thermal imaging systems are a contactless way of getting a more accurate reading of a person’s body temperature, though it’s worth noting that not all people with Covid-19 may exhibit a fever or elevated temperature.
Increased cleaning regimen. One of the biggest common-sense ways of keeping Covid-19 and other viruses at bay is to increase the frequency of cleaning public spaces, as well as individual workstations and high-touch areas throughout a business operation.