The single most important thing employees can do to keep the workplace safe is to stay home if they are sick.
We recommend that employers work with legal counsel and Human Resources to determine if you are able to provide employees the ability to work from home if necessary.
According to CDC guidance, three key points to maintaining a safe workplace are:
- Maintain distance between employees.
- Require employees to wear masks some or all of the time that they are at work.
- Encourage employees to wash or sanitize their hands regularly.
Where possible, CDC guidance recommends:
- Spread employee workspaces apart, distancing work stations at least six feet from each other, or install a barrier between them, like a sheet of Plexiglas.
- Limit seating arrangements that have employees directly facing each other and repurpose spaces such as conference rooms and out-of-the-way common spaces for employee seating.
- Consider staggering shifts to limit the number of employees in the building at one time.
- Encourage employees to maintain distance, even if it feels awkward. This includes eliminating physical contact such as handshakes or high-fives.
Pennsylvania specifically has safety mandates that employers must comply with—the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s website also offers industry-specific resources that can provide guidance on additional safety practices based on the type of work performed at different businesses.
To prepare for employees’ return to office, the majority of employers have already implemented or plan to implement new working practices to limit contact during the pandemic. According to a survey conducted by McKinsey & Company, 98% of companies are limiting larger gatherings and meetings or are switching to video conferences, and 65% are staggering work shifts or limiting capacity in elevators. Other practices being put in place include temperature checks for employees, closing common areas and communal food and beverage equipment, and the use of other personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees, such as gloves and face shields.
As employees return to work, you can hang posters or hand out desk posters to remind everyone of healthy workplace habits, government mandates, or newly enacted policies.
We have provided examples of several signs and handouts, available below, as suggestions to help you get started.
The scientific and medical communities have been working hard and are continually learning more about COVID-19. With new information comes new recommendations to help keep yourself and others safe. For the most current list of recommendations, please visit the Center for Disease Prevention (CDC).