Back-to-work business checklist: Is your workspace safe for your team to go back to work?
DURBAN - Under lockdown Level 4, many businesses may be going back to work, which comes with renewed risk of the highly contagious Covid-19 infection spreading exponentially.
Ensuring the safety of a team will be top-of-mind for all employers. Decontamination services will play a major role in making sure an environment is safe, along with stringent Covid protocols including the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), regular cleaning of high touch points, hand sanitation and the requisite social distancing.
Curbing the coronavirus spread must be a collective effort as we gradually lift the lockdown to re-energize the economy.
We salute businesses going back to work. You are the unsung heroes on the frontlines and your safety is our priority. As a key partner offering high compliance cleaning and disinfection solutions and products, we have established a specialized decontamination taskforce to help ensure workspaces are safe. Additionally, we are able to offer workplace readiness assessments to help businesses align with best practices and follow the latest protocols.
Here is a checklist for businesses going back to work on ways to stay safe during this unprecedented pandemic.
1. Have you decontaminated your environment?
Covid-19 is transmitted via droplet spread. This means surfaces can be contaminated quickly. A decontamination protocol is the best way to ensure a workplace is coronavirus free. It involves the microbial fogging of all surfaces, production lines, workstations, walls, floors and ceilings using specialized chemicals, after which the area is air dried. The decontamination team is specially trained and attired in the necessary PPE. All disposable PPE is immediately placed in a biohazard bag and treated as Health Care Risk Waste. Decontamination protocols should be imperative following a positive Covid-19 incident.
2. Have you done a risk analysis?
If a decontamination is done before a team returns to work then a risk analysis is done afterwards. Otherwise, a risk analysis should already be in place. This critical assessment determines high touch points (most touched surfaces) and the cleaning regimen required to maintain the necessary hygiene standards. It’s vital daily cleaning happens (at minimum) with special care paid to the mapped touch points.
3. Have you got the right products?
The correct chemicals need to be used in daily cleaning practices. High-alcohol solutions work well for hard surface sanitizing of small areas and sensitive equipment. Solutions containing sodium hypochlorite such as bleach should be used on walls and floors.
Professional bodies have recommended the following chemicals be used:
- 70 percent IsoPropanol based hand sanitizer, Neat (Alcohol based hand sanitizer)
- Sodium Hypochlorite 0,1 – 0,5 percent (Chlorine based sanitizer)
- Hydrogen Peroxide >0,5 percent (Available as a blend of Hydrogen Peroxide and Peracetic acid-based sanitizer)
- Benzalkonium Chloride 0,05 percent (QAC sanitizer)
4. Have you trained your team?
Ultimately, a lot depends on every employee complying with the rules. It’s essential to train a team on best personal hygiene practices like frequent hand washing and hand sanitizing. Entrenching these behaviours relies on discipline. People will slip up, so have Covid-19 hygiene reminders everywhere, in the form of posters, frequent check-ins, morning mailers… even ‘messaging mats’ on the floor.
5. Have you got the right PPE?
Masks and gloves remain highly sought after. Businesses will need to source these and have an abundance of products like hand sanitizer available as well. Make sure there are strict protocols regarding the donning and doffing of PPE and its disposal. Have a biohazard waste disposal mechanism for single-use items. And ensure fabric masks are washed, ironed and rotated consistently.
6. Have you got social distancing measures in place?
Before a team returns, use reflective tape to designate well-spaced-out ‘work zones’ to comply with social distancing. Use tape to outline how people should queue for the bathroom. Draw up kitchen and lunch ‘shifts’. All communal spaces like meeting rooms should ideally not be in use, or severely restricted. Have clear policies for how team members should interact with each other and other stakeholders like customers, if applicable.
7. Have you got equipment for daily temperature testing?
Daily temperature testing should ideally be enforced, using infrared thermometers. Additionally, ask questions regarding whether someone is experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, sneezing, runny nose or general feeling of being unwell. Use a daily log for results.
8. Have you got drills for scenario testing?
It’s important to conduct drills so you know how to handle a positive Covid-19 case, a security incident, breach of hygiene protocol, etc. Practicing these with a team will take time but will enforce the seriousness of the situation and help everyone feel more prepared.
9. Have you got support systems in place?
Individuals will feel a huge amount of uncertainty and stress so employers should consider offering free counselling services during this time. Empathetic leadership is key – people appreciate honesty, constant communication, caring one-on-one check-ins, flexibility and recognition.
A decontamination protocol is the safest way to ensure an environment is coronavirus-free, enabling business continuity. This is a powerful defence when accompanied by the right protocols, PPE, social distancing and behaviour-entrenching tools. Ecowize applies best practice to ensure we meet world-standard protocols. We are committed to being your partner in this journey.
Brett Osrin is the CEO of Ecowize.