10 Things Every Employer Needs to Do Before Reopening

Many businesses in America are beginning to reopen or thinking about reopening. However, your employer should ensure he or she is making the following precautionary, coronavirus steps before operating as usual.

There are plenty of resources to help employers and workplaces in the reopening process. Some of them are industry specific, whereas others are very general. One article discusses the 10 necessary actions employers should take no matter the industry or location.

The National Safety Council in concert with the Safe Actions for Employee Returns (SAFER) task force have identified 10 universal actions every employer must consider before reopening.

These 10 actions are:

1. Phasing. Employers should create a phased transition to return to work aligned with risk and exposure levels rather than having everyone rush back to the office at once. For example, you can have a certain percentage of the workforce come in on certain days and the rest on other days of the week. Then, they could switch every week.

2. Screenings. Before employees return, disinfect the workplace. Clean all surfaces professionally and consider air purification systems. Make sure you regularly disinfect the workplace, and make any physical alterations needed for physical distancing such as spreading out desks, workspaces and reworking conference rooms and individual offices.

3. Screenings. Develop a health status screening process for all employees. Use the CDC guidelines for developing this process, and remember that individuals can be asymptomatic.

4. Hygiene. Create a plan to handle sick employees, and encourage safe behaviors for good hygiene and infection control. This includes hand-washing, making hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment (PPE) readily available, and providing employees with up-to-date health information.

5. Tracing. Follow proper contact-tracing steps if workers get sick to curb the spread of COVID-19. The CDC has guidance for contact tracing, including training plans.

6. Mental Health. Supporting mental and emotional health is crucial to supporting your workers’ overall health. You should reexamine what mental health-related benefits your organizations offer.

7. Training. Leaders and supervisors should be trained on the fundamentals of safety, such as risk assessment and hazard recognition, but also on the impacts of COVID-19 on mental health and well-being. Make sure you adjust your training and guidance to the times, the individual and the hazards present.

8. Engagement plan. Keep employees engaged with all the decisions of the company. Make sure you consider the employees who might be at higher risk of having serious complications should they contract COVID-19. Brush up on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other laws that pertain to such individuals to be certain you are both being sensitive to the needs of your employees and protecting yourself from litigation.

9. Communication. Develop a communications plan to be open and transparent with workers on your return-to-work process, and consider a multifaceted communication approach. This includes emails, social media posts, phone calls or text messages. Get all leadership individuals on board with your plans so you can best organize your efforts.

10. Assessment. Outline the main factors your organization is using as guidance to provide a simplistic structure to very difficult, return-to-work decisions.

During this time, it is crucial you are transparent, understanding and thoughtful to employees. Everyone is under stress and uncertainty, and following these 10 steps can greatly affect your workplace and employees during and after the pandemic.

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