How Keep Your Workplace Secure From COVID-19
The hierarchy of controls is a concept in occupational safety. The hierarchy of controls, as it is commonly known, can be used to determine the best way for workplace safety. This refers to the fact there may be multiple solutions to a problem and that some solutions might be more effective than others.
Sometimes, it is better to remove a hazard from the workplace systematically than to allow workers to be exposed. Employers may not be able to eliminate the hazard in an outbreak of COVID-19, but employees and employers can take precautions that could help limit its effects.
What Are The Most Effective COVID-19 Protection Measures?
They are ranked from the most effective to the least.
- Engineering controls
- Administrative controls (develop an infectious disease response plan).
- Safe work practices (a form of administrative control).
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
These controls can be used to protect your employees from workplace hazards. These controls can reduce employee exposure to hazards and are cost-effective.
These are the steps we recommend.
- High-efficiency air filters should be installed
- In order to increase ventilation in places where customers are present, mark 6-foot distances with floor tap in areas where lines form. Use drive-through windows or curbside pick-up to limit the number of customers who can be inside at once.
- To create more distance, move or reposition workstations.
- You can install physical barriers such as clear plastic sneeze protectors.
These controls can be implemented to change work policies or procedures in order to minimize or eliminate exposure to a hazard. An example of an Administrative Control would be the creation of an infectious disease plan. To help you take protective measures against COVID-19, you should create one if it is not already in place.
Employers Should Follow These Steps As Part Of The Plan
- Consider both occupational and non-occupational risks.
- Keep an eye out for changes and updates in the industry, as well as federal, state and local guidelines. These recommendations and resources can be incorporated into your plan.
- When appropriate, identify and isolate sick persons.
- To keep employees safe, create a flexible work environment.
- Reduce contact between workers, clients, or customers by substituting face-to-face meetings for virtual communications, and using telework if possible.
- You should create options to conduct essential operations. This could include a reduced workforce or cross-training workers from different jobs. In order to keep operations going or provide surge services,
- Stop traveling to areas where COVID-19 is still endemic. Regularly review CDC travel warning levels.
- If possible, create emergency communications plans that include a hotline or forum for workers to voice their concerns, and an internet-based communication channel.
- Workers should be provided with current education and training in COVID-19 risks and protective behaviors (e.g. cough etiquette, care of PPE).
Safe Work Practices
These protection measures are procedures that allow for safe and proper work, which may reduce exposure to hazards. These controls can be directly requested of your employees and will alter the way they interact with one another.
These measures can be used by businesses to reduce the negative impact of COVID-19.
- Social distancing is a good habit to practice at all times
- Employees can work remotely whenever it is possible
- Encourage them to stay at home if they’re ill.
- Encourage frequent handwashing by offering a place for customers, workers, and visitors to the worksite to wash their hands. Hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol should be available if soap and running water is not readily available. Workers must wash their hands after they have removed any PPE and when they become visible.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes to ensure that employees adhere to respiratory protocol.
- Make sure your workstations are clean. Avoid sharing workstations, phones and desks.
- Regular housekeeping should include routine cleaning and disinfection of surfaces, equipment, and other elements. Employers should review information on approved disinfectant labels from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which includes claims against emerging viruses pathogens, before choosing cleaning chemicals.
- Flexibility in work (e.g. telecommuting) is a way to increase the physical distance between employees.
- To maintain physical distance between employees, you can take stagger breaks or re-arrange the seating in common break areas.
- Encourage employees to report any safety or health concerns to their employer.
- Reduce the number of employees in common areas at all times.
Personal Protective Equipment
Although engineering and administrative controls are more effective at minimizing COVID-19 exposure, properly used PPE may still be necessary to avoid certain exposures. It should not be used in place of other preventive strategies.
When appropriate, PPE includes gloves, goggles, and face masks.
Protective clothing and equipment users must be trained in how to properly put on, use, and remove PPE within the context of their current or potential duties.
In the event of an epidemic of an infectious disease such as COVID-19 or other similar diseases, PPE recommendations for specific occupations and job tasks can change depending on where they are located, current risk assessments for workers, and information about PPE effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 from spreading. For the latest information on recommended PPE, employers should regularly visit the OSHA or CDC websites.
What is the best way to cover your employees’ faces in light of COVID-19?
Employers should adhere to the recommendations of state and local public officials for wearing a mask or covering on the face. This reduces the spread of COVID-19. If possible, they should make sure that employees have access to face masks and coverings.
A face mask, or covering, is not to be confused with PPE that is worn by workers. These masks are used to stop potentially infective respiratory secretions from reaching the source (i.e. the person’s nose or mouth).
This post was written by a medical professional at The Wellness Firm. The Wellness Firm provides onsite Flu Shots, onsite rapid COVID event testing, employee physical examination, as well as American Heart Association CPR certification classes. We have professionals that provide in-person hands-on, quality training. For more information click here!