The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has transformed business as usual into anything but normal. Instead, a “new normal” has emerged, and it has changed the way employees work.
As employees return to their traditional workspaces during the pandemic, they must prepare accordingly. In doing so, these workers can protect themselves and others against the spread of the coronavirus. They can also do their part to maintain a safe, productive work environment.
Now, let’s look at four safety tips from public health experts for employees returning to work during the pandemic.
1. Wear a Face Covering
Dr. Peter Chin Hong, an infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco, tells CNN that universal masking is key. By wearing a face mask at work, employees can avoid breathing in hazardous particles in the air and lower their risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. Employees should be provided with a face mask before they enter a workspace. Or, they can bring their own face mask and wear it throughout the day.
2. Promote Social Distancing
Ensure workers always stay at least 6 ft. apart from one another. In certain instances, workspaces may need to be reconfigured to promote social distancing. For example, Dr. Susan Bailey, president of the American Medical Association, points out that the waiting room at her Texas medical practice had to be reconfigured, so patients could get medical support without coming into close contact with one another. It can be tough to avoid coworkers. But, by social distancing, you can prevent close contact that otherwise could cause you to contract COVID-19 or infect a coworker with it inadvertently.
3. Wash the Hands Frequently
Former U.S. surgeon general Dr. Regina Benjamin recommends washing the hands frequently with soap and water to help combat the spread of COVID-19. Although employers may wash and sanitize work surfaces regularly, it is always a good idea to err on the side of caution. If employees wash their hands with soap and water often throughout the day, they can lower their risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. Additionally, workers should use hand sanitizer and clean and disinfect work surfaces as often as they can.
4. Maintain a Culture of Openness
A culture of openness is vital, particularly as workers adjust to the new normal. Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, points out that workers should speak up whenever they have concerns about COVID-19 and their on-the-job safety. If employees speak with their managers, both parties can find ways to ensure that a work environment is safe for all personnel.
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