With the threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19) proving to be a continually pervasive aspect in
our day-to-day lives, organizations will need to continue implementing safety precautions to best
protect themselves and their employees during this time. Optimum has shared tips on
workplace precautions against COVID-19 in previous blogs, but seeing as the virus continues to
loom large, and with more employees returning to work in-person, it felt pertinent to expand
upon those tips now. Advice regarding frequent hand-washing and mask-wearing have become
commonplace, as well as encouraging employees to stay home when they feel sick, and these
still continue to be sound practices to curb the spread of the virus. As such, consider these tips
to be supplements to what is already working, rather than replacements, to continue promoting
COVID-19 safety.

Social Distancing and Barriers

The term “social distancing” has become ubiquitous, as the 6-foot distance of separation
between persons, as recommended by the CDC, has become one of the leading suggestions
for limiting the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The suggested barrier of distance has also
recently been updated by the CDC to include guidance limiting contact within 6 feet of another
person to less than 15 cumulative minutes over a period of 24 hours. While these precautions
can seem odd when considering large areas such as manufacturing floors or construction
zones, these work spaces can still be surprisingly densely populated. Enforcing guidelines to
maintain social distancing of 6 to 10 feet is important for maintaining a safe working
environment.

In situations where social distancing workers creates a logistics puzzle that disrupts production,
alternatives can be explored that are similarly effective. One such method is the installation of
plexiglass barriers around specific spots where workers are more likely to be stationary, as
these limit contact, but still allow employees to interact. Additionally, it may be more conducive
to re-evaluate the entire workflow, and institute short-term changes to how employees share
tools or functions by providing individual tools to employees, or utilizing additional signage to
control how employees move through shared spaces.

Staggering Shifts and Capacity

As touched on above, certain job functions require being in person and on the floor, which leads
to the potential for long-term close contact. To help reduce the potential for overcrowding,
organizations can explore staggering shifts or limiting overall in-person workplace capacity. By
placing a cap on the amount of employees that can be present within a facility at a given time,
or by spreading out the available shifts for employees to complete their tasks, employers are
able to better curb potential exposure, increasing COVID-19 safe working conditions.

Introduce Regular Screenings

While by no means an all-encompassing solution, due to the potential for those with COVID-19
to be asymptomatic, implementing regular, voluntary temperature checks and screenings can
help create a safer working environment that protects against COVID. Setting up a contactless
thermometer station and encouraging employees to self-assess their potential for emerging
symptoms helps promote a culture of accountability amongst employees.

Without crossing the line into accessing protected employee health data, prompting employees to be mindful of their
health, and reinforcing the importance of maintaining healthy habits, will get employees into the
mindset that they should be taking this virus seriously, and that they have a role to play in
safeguarding the health of others by maintain their own health.

Re-Align Safety Leadership

The role safety leaders play in the success of any safety program is critical. Now, with the
emergence of coronavirus, safety leaders’ roles can be expanded to make them a sort of
COVID-19 safety taskforce. Because safety leaders are already largely familiar with the various
processes and functions across the organization, through the creation and maintenance of the
organization’s safety program, they are uniquely suited for rooting out potential areas of
increased risk for COVID-19 exposure. They also have the ability to provide specific insight into
where and how process improvements can be best implemented to adopt safer working
conditions, such as additional PPE, to increase COVID-19 safety as workplaces begin
reopening. Invaluable resources to employers, safety leaders can set the tone and provide
direction for employees working safely and efficiently while reducing the potential for COVID
spread.

The landscape for what constitutes safe working conditions has changed dramatically in the
wake of COVD-19, and they will continue to adjust as the spread and response to this virus
changes. Ensuring that employees are trained, informed, and prepared is the best proactive
measure employers can take to improve COVID-19 safety. Staying agile and on top of the latest
developments in safety guidance from leading experts, and using this information to adjust
working conditions as needed, will provide employers with the edge necessary to maintain
employee safety during this transitionary period.

Optimum Safety Management provides the information and services to help companies develop
safety leaders and improve overall safety performance. For more information on how Optimum
Safety Management can assist with your businesses’ safety needs, contact an expert today, or
reach out via phone at 630-759-9908.

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