As governments and economies ease lockdown restrictions, and people start coming to offices and workplaces, the organizations and companies need to follow compliances and guidelines for their employees returning to workplaces amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Offices should maintain the below mentioned practical steps, which should be implemented soon and practically:
- Work from home wherever possible
- Undertake Covid-19 risk assessments and publish reports online
- Maintain social distancing at work, wherever possible
- In workplaces where social distancing is not possible, it is advisable to manage virus transmission risk with barriers, comply shift working hours and minimize the number of people working together in an area
- Improve cleaning and sanitization measures.
Before embracing employees to the office quarters, organizations and workplaces should meet the three key tests:
Is it essential?
If there are provisions that people can continue to work from home, they must continue to do so as long as possible.
Is it safe?
It is imperative that employers identify and manages risks to ensure that a workplace is safe for the workers to return to their duties. As such, the organization should apply social distancing measures, reconfiguring workspaces, change working hours and introducing shifts, and increase sanitization and cleaning measures.
Is it mutually agreed?
Many workers are willing and anxious to return to work amid concerns that they would be forced to return home. In such a situation, there should be a clear dialogue between the employers and workers so that concerns of commuting and work areas can be resolved. Both the employer and the employee should come to a flexible working schedule to maintain the guidelines effectively.
Covid-19 Secure Workplaces
Employees should continue to work from home as long as they can. On-site workers in roles meant for “operational continuity, safe facility management or regulatory requirements” and which cannot be handled remotely should return to work. Individuals who are unable to work remotely due to any personal circumstance should also be included in the office. For staff who comes to the office, employers should ensure that those workers who travel by public transport have places to park their vehicles and also get changing facilities.
One-way systems should also be initiated to minimize contact among people. Social distancing should be practised at workplaces. In areas where it is not possible to move workstations apart, employees should work side by side or face away from each other. The organizations can also install screens between the workstations to separate contact. There should be regular sanitization and cleaning before, between and after working hours. Meetings with clients and businesses should be held remotely as possible.
Construction and Outdoor Work
For the people who indulge in construction and outdoor work, employers should consider creating zones on-site to minimize chances of spreading the virus. Tools and hardware should be regularly sanitized after use.
Restaurants and Takeaway/Deliveries
There should be less contact between kitchen workers, front-of-house workers, and delivery drivers and employers should introduce zones to implement the distance. Employers should install screens between house workers and customers wherever possible, encourage contactless payments, and limit access to premises for collecting takeaways. There should be two-metre demarcations made for customers queuing to carry takeaways. Restaurants can also ask customers to order online or over the telephone to reduce congestion and queues in restaurants.
Other people’s homes
Workers should discuss with households before starting work about observing the two-metre distance, and for internal doors to be left open. Workers should identify busy areas like stairs and corridors, and minimize movements in these areas.
For people who work in or from a vehicle, they should ensure frequent cleaning of equipment, objects and surfaces which are regularly touched. Also, door handles, fuel pumps and vehicle keys should be cleaned thoroughly, and adequate disposal arrangements should be ensured. Workers should wash hands before boarding vehicles and retain sufficient quantities of hand sanitizer or wipes in the cars.
Shops and businesses should regularly count the number of customers and ensure two-metre social distancing is followed among them. They should also limit the number of customers in-store.