As COVID-19 restrictions are slowly lifted, non-essential businesses are able to resume their operations. However, before reopening your small business, it’s crucial that you take the necessary steps to ensure that your employees and customers will be safe and to reduce their risk to exposure. Here are 7 key factors to consider when reopening your business.
Carry Out A Risk Assessment
It’s essential that you carry out a detailed risk assessment. The hazards and risks will vary depending on your business and industry. The best way to begin is to perform a walkthrough. This will allow you to identify areas where workers and/or customers are likely to congregate and interact. You can then also assess the best place to install cleaning stations, signs and areas that may need to be readjusted to minimize exposure.
Make sure that you check your state’s latest guidance on COVID-19, as well as the federal rules. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also have further advice.
You’ll want to minimize the hazards to your workers. To this end, consider ways in which you can increase ventilation in your facility. This may include installing high-efficiency air filters. You may also need to install barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards at checkouts, between employee desks or customer tables.
Reorganize Work Days
In order to minimize the hazard of exposure, you could rearrange the traditional working day. Assess whether all your employees need to physically return to work or whether some may be able to continue to carry out their duties remotely. Reducing the number of workers on site at any one time will also help to promote social distancing.
Consider setting up staggered starts or shifts. Try to keep the same team members working together per shift so that if one does test positive for COVID-19, you can limit the chances of spreading the virus throughout your workforce. You could also reconsider the working days. For example, some of your employees may be happy to work weekends in exchange for two days off during the week. This could help to limit the number of workers on site at any one time.
Encourage Social Distancing
Workers and customers should keep 6 feet apart. Ensure that you have signage up to promote this. You may also need to make changes to the layout of your business. Ensure that workers’ desks are appropriately spaced out, as well as customer seating areas. Limit the number of people allowed on site (both workers and customers). Place floor markers, particularly around checkouts and points of congregation, to ensure social distancing is maintained. Ensure too that physical contact is limited as far as is reasonable.
Increase Cleaning And Disinfection
Cleaning and disinfection procedures are vital if workers and customers are to feel safe entering your business. Ensure that all workers have access to adequate PPE, including face coverings. Make sure that all employees are clear about how to properly put on, remove and care for their PPE.
Areas or surfaces that are frequently touched should be disinfected regularly throughout the day. Ensure all areas are properly cleaned before and after use. Make sure that you provide workers and customers with access to cleaning stations. These should include hand sanitizer (with at least a 60% alcohol level), tissues, wipes and if possible, no-touch disposal receptacles. Check that there is a clear cleaning schedule in place.
Discourage Equipment Sharing
Sharing of equipment should be discouraged as far as possible. Any areas or equipment that is communally used (e.g., photocopiers or industry-specific tools) should be cleaned before and after use. Consider whether staff need additional training too. If possible, try to provide workers with individual work kits (such as pens, notebooks etc.) in order to minimize sharing of equipment and work tools.
Although it can seem like a daunting task, it’s essential that you implement the necessary policies and protocols to minimize the risk of exposure to both your employees and customers. Ensure that all employees are aware of the expectations and new policies and provide them with an updated digital employee handbook. By taking these preparatory steps you’ll be able to resume working, whilst instilling confidence in your workers and customers.
Kristin Herman is an experienced marketing writer at Essay writing services reviews and Top Canadian Writers. She has written for a number of online magazines and blogs, including Simple Grad, amongst others. Kristin enjoys keeping up to date with the latest business developments in her spare time and attending conferences.