States around the country are in various stages of reopening after months of lockdowns in response to the coronavirus. Many Americans are now dealing with the prospect of returning to work after months in their homes. However, essential workers have been on the job for most of the pandemic. The common denominator all workers face is to need to know the environments in which they work are as safe as possible.
The truth is there are not many places on earth, if any, that are safe from the risk of coronavirus. But there are measures everyone can learn to help promote safety.
The most effective way to combat the virus is for everyone to take part in precautionary measures like wearing masks, washing hands multiple times each day, and continuing the practice of social distancing.
Talkspace therapist, Meaghan Rice, says that dealing with a pandemic represents a challenge that is new to everyone involved. Rice says that the general precautions to combat the virus are helpful, but each workplace will decide for itself the applicable safety standards it will use. The point, Rice says, is that a group of workers can control what goes on within their workplace but do not have control over what happens at others.
Plan for Success
Protecting workers from the risk of coronavirus is like many other things in that a failure to plan could eventually become a plan to fail.
A plan is needed to outline the specific actions a company will take to protect the health of employees. Employees should have a say in the plan, and employers should create a living document that can be changed and updated as needed. Flexibility is a key to a successful COVID-19 safety plan since there is still so much to learn about this novel coronavirus.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends the plan include a breakdown of how the company plans to protect employees while in certain areas or performing specific tasks. The CDC urges managers to spend time speaking with employees under their direction and come up with solutions that work for everyone involved.
The Importance of Maintaining Physical Distance
This aspect of coronavirus threat mitigation is worth repeating again and again. Social distancing is crucial to any effort to slow and eventually stop the spread of the coronavirus. And while some types of work lend themselves to social distancing more than others, all employers should do what they can to support these protocols.
Matthew Freeman is a Ph.D. who works at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. Freeman believes that social distance is the most important of all COVID-19 safeguards. He says that employers should approach the situation with the thought that the more distance that separates employees, the better. The same goes for space that should exist between customers and clients.
When social distancing is not easy to accomplish due to the type of work performed, employers should consider other available alternatives. For instance, the installation of plexiglass barriers may help protect factory workers. Face coverings become more important in restaurant settings where it can become a chore to maintain six feet of distance between patrons and employees.
Don’t Forget Mental Health
Individuals returning to work during ongoing pandemic concerns should not only pay attention to their physical health. It is important to set a workplace culture that considers the mental and emotional well-being of everyone working with the company.
Strength in Numbers
The Talkspace experts say it is important to remember that keeping the workplace safe for employees and customers is a team effort. Team members should not forget to reach out to each other in a way that allows them to practice social distancing guidelines.