In the era of Covid-19, countless businesses have transitioned to remote work. However, some businesses may be unable to operate in remote work situations indefinitely. Given that many companies rely on onsite staff, it is important to improve the safety of the office in the midst of the health crisis.
The coronavirus is highly contagious. The acts of breathing, talking, or coughing can send infectious respiratory droplets into the respiratory systems of people nearby (within six feet), thereby possibly transmitting Covid-19 to these individuals. Even touching contaminated surfaces can lead to infection.
Widespread outbreaks are likely in areas, such as workplaces, where people gather. One sick employee can potentially infect the whole staff, leading to an extensive outbreak of Covid-19. Without a vaccine currently available, workplaces exposed to the coronavirus will undergo drastic negative effects.
Offices may see a spike in absenteeism, as employees are either sick or caring for an at-risk person. Due to fear of exposure to the coronavirus, office personnel may be too afraid to return to the workplace. Supply and delivery demands may also shift in areas severely impacted by Covid-19.
1. Develop a Response Plan
The first step in improving workplace safety is to develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan. Office managers who seek updates from local, state, and federal health agencies are better able to implement these agencies’ recommendations for health safety practices into their plan.
Consider which employees might have the greatest exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19). Staff who deal with the general public or customers, people who come into contact with healthcare workers, and employees who travel internationally may have a higher risk for infection.
Policies should be in place to address instances when employees are sick with Covid-19. Employers are better able to protect other employees when a reporting procedure is established and communicated to staff who are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 or who have confirmed illness.
Procedures for isolation should be developed and go into effect when staff are sick. For instance, symptomatic employees are to be moved away from other staff, customers, and visitors. While onsite isolation rooms may be impractical, prepare a makeshift room with closable doors.
2. Establish Engineering Controls
Office managers may not always have control over employee behaviors. However, by implementing engineering controls, the office can remain a space that is safe from the coronavirus. Engineering controls help to protect employees from work-related hazards by reducing their exposure to them.
Install high-efficiency air filters to improve air quality. Choose the highest MERV filter available for the unit to ensure that the cleanest air is circulating. MERV 13 is recommended for office buildings. Higher MERV ratings indicate the air filter’s ability to remove the smallest of particles.
If the office building had been shut down for a prolonged period since the earlier part of the year (when Covid-19 first appeared), check the HVAC systems to ensure they operate properly. Also improve the ventilation rates inside the office by opening windows or running fans.
Sneeze guards are clear plastic barriers. Install these barriers to employees’ desks and social spaces to protect them. Consider revamping the office seating plan to one that allows adequate social distancing. Floor markers indicating one-way paths may be added to direct staff in hallways and staircases.
Hands-free technology also helps to lessen the chances of a coronavirus infection in high-traffic areas. When possible, install motion sensor lights and double-swinging push doors. In a building with an elevator, limit the number of passengers allowed inside at any given time.
3. Make Administrative Adjustments
Employers are highly encouraged to take administrative actions that minimize their employees’ exposure to the coronavirus. First and foremost is that sick personnel should be advised to stay at home. During the workweek, stagger shifts so that fewer staff are in the office at any given time.
Replace face-to-face meetings with virtual communications. Offer telework if it is a feasible option. Discontinue business travel to Covid-19 hotspots. Geographic areas with ongoing Covid-19 outbreaks can change rapidly, often from day to day. Monitor the CDCs travel warning levels on its website.
Train employees on cough etiquette and proper hand hygiene, which help to reduce the duration, intensity, and frequency of exposure to the coronavirus. To promote personal hygiene, provide no-touch trash cans, alcohol-based sanitizer, soap and water, and tissues throughout the office.
Sanitizing desks is also critical during these unprecedented times. Employers should provide disinfectants and disposable towels so that staff may clean and disinfect their work surfaces multiple times throughout each shift. Place signs that encourage hand washing in the restrooms.
Disinfecting work surfaces daily is especially effective in disabling the coronavirus. High-touch objects (those that are handled by multiple people), such as door handles, light switches, telephones, faucet handles, printers, copiers and drinking fountains, should be disinfected at least daily.
Office Disinfection Services
Given that many office personnel are returning to the workplace, it is essential that your building is disinfected and ready to be used in the safest manner. ServiceMaster DAK is prepared to provide intensive commercial cleaning and disinfection to disable the coronavirus and other viruses.
Our experienced technicians utilize proven techniques and disinfectants. ServiceMaster DAK specialists will treat your property with an electrostatic sprayer, like our Clorox Total 360 System. Once the area is treated, staff can re-enter immediately. We use EPA-approved disinfectants that kill the coronavirus after the recommended contact time.
Depending on the type and size of the property to be disinfected, ServiceMaster DAK technicians might opt for an electric airless disinfectant sprayer to protect against Covid-19. This fast spraying system is ideal for small office spaces, vehicles, and commercial buildings.
The threat of Covid-19 is likely to continue for months to come. Safeguard your employees and your business by scheduling professional coronavirus cleaning and disinfection with ServiceMaster DAK. We are proud to protect businesses in Chicago North Shore, Illinois and its northwest suburbs.