Finally -- a sign that things are getting back to “normal” after the coronavirus outbreak: as of May 20, 2020, every state is now starting to allow the brick and mortar locations to open for business.
While that’s good news for many business owners, it also brings up a pressing concern: how do you help employees and customers feel safe at your location?
A good start for all businesses is to use the reopening guidelines released by the CDC: “As an employer, if your business operations were interrupted, resuming normal or phased activities presents an opportunity to update your COVID-19 preparedness, response, and control plans.”
The CDC also suggests putting preventive measures and best practices in place including:
- Conducting daily health checks
- Conducting a hazard assessment of the workplace
- Encouraging employees to wear cloth face coverings in the workplace, if appropriate
- Social distancing
- Cleaning and disinfecting common and high-traffic areas
Here are some suggestions for each area, including direction from Federal, State, and local governments, as well as industry experts.
Social Distancing and Protective Equipment
Most businesses are allowed to open for business with up to 50% of employees in the office at one time. Initially, “companies should focus on retrofitting the workplace to align with current health guidelines,” according to an article in Co, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s online publication. An easy start: moving around office furniture, or removing it, to ensure that employees have, at a minimum, six-foot social distance.
Another way to enforce the 50% capacity requirement is to modify the amount of hours employees work. An article in Inc. suggests considering moving to shift work and weekend hours.
While you may require employees to wear masks, some states make it mandatory for employers to pay for them. Make sure to check your state guidelines for details.
Pre-pandemic, the Americans with Disabilities Act severely restricted the instances where employers could require that employees get a medical exam, including taking someone’s temperature.
Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the rules have changed. Now employers can take employees’ temperatures. You can also take the temperature of customers.
Ideally, a medical professional would take temperatures, but that’s not an option for many businesses. An employee, using the proper precautions, including using a no-touch thermometer, and wearing gloves and a mask, can easily do the job.
And a word of warning. Make sure to communicate to customers and employees that taking a temperature does not mean that entry into your location is risk-free. You can do this by creating a disclaimer of liability.
Frequent handwashing, when done correctly, is one of the easiest ways to help control the spread of COVID-19 and most other germs. Keep plenty of soap on hand in restrooms and break rooms, and provide it through a touchless dispenser.
I probably wash my hands 30 times a day, and I feel better knowing that not only are my hands clean but in just 20 seconds I can help protect my team. Also, Safeguard hand soap gets rid of 99% of bacteria from hands. Wow!
Sanitizers are also a good option. Consider creating “hand sanitizer stations” in heavily-used common areas, such as break rooms, restrooms, conference rooms, and reception areas. You can even provide hand sanitizer stations for each desk, or offer a personal sanitizer to each employee. A good choice: The Safeguard® Hand Hygiene System. It’s EPA-registered, contains 65% ethanol, and helps reduce cross contamination.
I’m fortunate to have a large supply of Safeguard Safeguard Hand Soap and Safeguard Hand Sanitizer, in touchless dispensers, provided by the P&G Professional products team.
Use and Disinfection of Common and High-traffic Areas
The EPA created a guide on how to clean and disinfect workplaces and businesses. One of the practices it suggests is “Disinfection using EPA-approved disinfectants against COVID-19. Frequent disinfection of surfaces and objects touched by multiple people is important.”
I’m excited to be working with P&G Professional, which offers several EPA-registered cleaning and disinfection products from familiar and trusted brands.
I’ve learned all about these products (and tested most of them), and here are some that can help your business stay safe:
For door handles, hard tables and chairs, elevator buttons, hand railings, upholstery, TV remotes: Microban Professional. This is powerful stuff! It kills 99.9% of bacteria in five minutes and offers 24 hours of protection from bacteria growth. It protects against bacteria between cleanings for up to 24 hours.
For countertops, windows, mirrors, walls, stainless steel, and display cases: Spic and Span Disinfecting Multi-Purpose Cleaner. It saves you time and money by replacing three products with one: glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, and hospital use disinfectant to not only remove dirt and grease but disinfect at the same time.
For bathrooms: Comet Cleaner with Bleach. Use this non-abrasive product on toilets, urinals, sinks, countertops, fixtures, soap scum, and tile. It even works on mold and mildew buildup.
As with any cleaning product, follow all safety instructions. The products are safe and effective when used as directed.
According to the CDC’s Resuming Business Toolkit, businesses are, not surprisingly, asked to limit employee travel.
If employees must travel, the CDC suggests some steps to take prior to that. These include checking the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices, asking employees to check for Coronavirus symptoms, and creating a protocol for employees who get sick while traveling.
Open for Business
Making your business safe for reopening is the top priority for now and the foreseeable future.
The health of your employees, customers, and your business itself, depend on it.