Returning to work after COVID-19. Precautions employers should take to protect workers and limit the spread of the coronavirus at work.

Returning to work after the COVID-19 pandemic is going to be a challenge. Without a vaccine available, precautions to limit the spread of the coronavirus at work must be put in place.

Employers will have to systematically disinfect the workplace, adjust the space to allow for social distancing and create a process for responding to employees showing signs of illness in order to create a safe work environment.

Returning to Work After COVID-19

The CDC has released guidelines for employers to follow to limit the spread of the coronavirus in the workplace with three primary goals:

  1. Reduce transmission between employees
  2. Maintain healthy business operations
  3. Maintain a healthy work environment

Reducing Transmission Between Employees

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19 with information on how to protect workers from potential exposures. The CDC recommends employers also educate employees on how they can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by taking steps to protect themselves, learning what to do if they get sick and using effective disinfectants.

Maintaining Healthy Business Operations

These are the strategies the CDC recommends for maintaining healthy business operations during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Identify a workplace coordinator who will be responsible for COVID-19 issues.
  • Implement flexible sick leave and supportive policies and practices.
  • Assess essential functions. 
  • Determine how the business will operate if absenteeism spikes.
  • Establish policies and practices for social distancing.

Maintaining a Healthy Work Environment

In order to maintain a healthy work environment after returning to work, the CDC suggests:

  • Improving the engineering controls using the building ventilation system to increase ventilation rates or increase the percentage of outdoor air that circulates into the system.
  • Support respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene for employees, customers and worksite visitors. 
  • Perform routine environmental cleaning and disinfection.
  • Perform enhanced cleaning and disinfection after persons suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 have been in the facility.
  • Take care when attending meetings and gatherings.

Read the CDC guidelines in full for more detailed information on how to implement these strategies in your workplace. 

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