It’s been over eight weeks since government and health officials mandated the majority of businesses close their doors to the public. A lot has changed and everyone has needed to quickly adapt. After a long and patient wait, we are starting to see the slow re-opening of some businesses and industries from COVID-19 mandated shutdown. This is giving many businesses pause to take the time to look around, take stock of their physical space and operating procedures, and begin planning for how their business will re-open.
CLEANING & DISINFECTING
Since many workplaces have been empty during quarantine, now may be a good time to bring in a professional cleaning crew to do a full cleaning prior to re-opening. This should include a full disinfecting of hard surfaces and high touch points throughout your office or store. Having a professional team ensures a complete and thorough cleaning by people who have the equipment, supplies, and training. In April, we hired Puroclean KW to clean our office top to bottom to reduce the possibility of viral spread and also give our staff peace of mind for when we begin to welcome them back.
More details about cleaning and disinfecting can be found here: Cleaning and disinfecting your premises
The most important health recommendation continues to be the physical (social) distancing of people. Maintaining social distancing in the workplace may require changes in layout and floor planning to accommodate seating or workstation arrangements where staff are kept further apart. Use of common areas such as break rooms, coffee stations, vending machines, and/or meeting rooms may need to be suspended to avoid gatherings.
You can consider additional measures like plexiglass dividers to help protect staff who will be in close contact with customers. It may also be necessary to separate employees who are working in close proximity of each other, like open office spaces or on assembly lines.
Consider place markers that are at least two metres apart. We see Westmount Signs have created floor stickers and printed reminders for both retail and office operations.
Additionally, consider placing posters in conspicuous areas of your workplace to remind staff to recognize Health & Safety protocols, social distancing requirements, and proactive hygiene practices.
CHANGES IN OPERATIONS
If physical distancing is going to be difficult or near impossible, some organizations may choose to stagger their staff returning to the workplace, especially in a more congested setting (such as an office). Some examples could include using a weekly rotation between ‘in office’ and ‘work from home’ can keep the office at a reduced head count to allow for more space and social distancing. An additional measure may be modifying shift times to avoid larger crowds arriving and entering the premises at the same time (as well as leaving).
In terms of public interfacing with customers, you may explore an appointment only model, where customers are required to call ahead and reserve time to be in your business. This will not only help keep head count low, it will allow your staff to safely provide one-on-one service. Others are eliminating waiting rooms, lunch rooms, and keeping attendance numbers based on the square footage of the store or business.
In addition, it is important to continue to provide plenty of hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and make sure employees continue to be aware of the importance of hygiene, hand washing and cough/sneeze etiquette in the workplace.
As everyone prepares for the ‘next normal’ it is important to keep your broker informed of updates and changes to your business. If you temporarily closed, had a vacant building, or took vehicles off the road, make sure to give your broker a call to ensure your insurance coverage is updated and you are covered in time for your re-opening.
» For more information, check out our COVID-19 Landing Page – a page full of information and resources to help you navigate these uncertain times.
» The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety have put together helpful tip sheets based on different operations and sectors
» Public Health Ontario has published several resources for individuals, including When and How to Wear a Mask, Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings, and How to Wash Your Hands, specifically for COVID-19
» The Workplace Safety and Prevention Service published this document outlining step-by-step protocols for the safe re-opening of workplaces