After months of remote work and services, employees and clients may be returning to offices. But employers should take health, sanitation and other precautions against COVID-19 before reopening to protect their employees and customers.
Health and sanitation
Employers should require that employees remove unnecessary items from decks and office areas. Decluttering helps simplify cleaning and provides fewer places for bacteria and viruses.
Office spaces must be reconfigured for social distancing with at least six feet between each worker. Sometimes, additional physical barriers may be needed. Business may also reduce gathering places for workers and impose capacity limits in conference rooms, break areas and restrooms.
Businesses should install signs on mask mandates, health screenings, social distancing, and other COVID-19 protocols. These should be reviewed with employees before they return to work.
Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes need to be readily available, especially near elevator buttons, entrances, and other frequently touched surfaces. Business should have an adequate supply of effective masks that may be distributed along with instructions on their proper use.
U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations must be followed when cleaning. Sanitizing materials should be provided to workers.
Employers must also assure that workspace and sick leave policies comply with local, Texas state and federal requirements. Procedures should govern an employee showing symptoms or testing positive for COVID-19.
A deep cleaning of all surfaces, even unused areas, will remove dirt and debris. This includes carpet shampooing, dusting ceiling fans and light fixtures and scrubbing and recoating hard surfaces. Deep cleaning should also include restrooms, especially grout, and high visible areas.
A HVAC professional should ensure that air-filtration systems are working effectively. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently issued updated guidance for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. HEPA filters also purify the air several times each hour in offices and shared spaces.
Opening windows is a simple but effective ventilation method. According to the U.S, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this helps dissipates the concentration of aerosolized viruses.
Regular cleaning is essential for maintaining safety. Cleaning services or staff should know COVID-19 protocols, have proper training and certifications, use federally approved sanitizing products, and meet PPE requirements. Adding electrostatic spraying to routine cleaning to helps assure that surfaces are completely sanitized.
Businesses have the legal duty of protecting their employees and clients from the spread of illness and providing a safe environment. Attorneys can help protect worker and customers and pursue compensation if businesses do not meet provide reasonable protection.