Cases of Covid-19 Omicron BA.2 have been increasing since April in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported this on its site. The subvariant of Omicron is now responsible for over 85 percent of cases in the country. Therefore, the CDC is keeping the mask order in place while assessing the situation. This raises concerns about bringing the workforce back into the workplace for companies.
How can you ensure the safety of your employees while also keeping business operations running smoothly? Here are some tips:
Establish a Health and Safety Committee
This committee should be responsible for assessing risks and implementing measures to mitigate them. The members should be drawn from different departments and levels within the company. This will ensure that everyone has a stake in the process and that no stone is left unturned.
The committee must get guidance from the various guidelines released by authorities such as the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and organizations like the American Industrial Hygiene Association® (AIHA®).
Create a Return-to-Work Policy
This policy should detail how you will manage the return of your employees to the workplace. It should take into account the needs of different departments and employees. For example, you may need to stagger start times or allow some employees to continue working from home.
The policy should also address the issue of testing. You may require employees to get tested for Covid-19 Omicron BA.2 before they are allowed to return to work. This will help you identify any cases early and take appropriate action.
Make Physical Changes to the Workplace
You may need to make some changes to your workplace to ensure that it is safe for employees. For instance, you may have to limit the number of people within a certain area to prevent crowding.
You can install security doors with magnetic locks and card readers that can only be opened with authorized cards. Personnel must swipe to get in and leave. That way, you can ensure that only the people who are supposed to be in an area at a certain period can enter. You can also monitor if all of them have left.
You will need to check the ventilation for the entire workplace against the recommendations of the CDC. In the work areas, you will have to rearrange desks to provide physical distancing or install plexiglass partitions between them.
You must also provide more hand-washing stations and sanitizing products. Employees should be encouraged to wash their hands regularly and sanitize their workstations.
According to OSHA, employers must provide masks to personnel for free whenever masks are required by the CDC. Even if these are no longer strictly required, the employer must provide them for free if any employee requests them.
Educate Employees and Enforce Safety Measures
Employees must be made aware of the various safety measures that have been put in place. For instance, they should know how to properly use and dispose of personal protective equipment (PPE) if the workplace requires these.
They should also be familiar with the symptoms of Covid-19 Omicron BA.2, so they can self-monitor and seek medical attention if necessary. Employees must know what to do if they develop symptoms or come in contact with someone who has the virus.
Monitor the Situation Closely
It is not enough to just put in place safety measures. You should monitor the compliance of your employees with the safety measures that have been put in place. That will identify any areas where there are problems so you can take corrective action. This may require you to set up a task force or working group that will be responsible for monitoring the situation and making recommendations.
Once the measures have been refined, you must ensure that they are being followed by everyone. There should be consequences for violators. For instance, you may require employees to undergo retraining or issue a warning. In severe cases, you may need to let the employee go.
Regularly Review and Update Policies
The situation with Covidi-191 Omicron BA.2 is constantly evolving. The policies that you put in place today may no longer be relevant tomorrow. That is why you need to be on top of the latest developments.
It is important to regularly review, adjust, and update policies and procedures as needed. The policies that you put in place should be reviewed at least monthly. However, you may need to do it more often if the situation warrants it.
Be Vigilant and Stay Prepared
The best way to manage workplace safety amid Covid-19 Omicron BA.2 is by implementing a policy and following it closely. You will need to make some physical changes to the workplace, educate employees about the virus and safety measures, and monitor the situation closely. Policies should be regularly reviewed and updated as needed. Employers must also be vigilant and stay prepared for any developments.
The health and safety of your employees should always be a top priority. By following these tips you can ensure that your workplace is safe for everyone even during these challenging times.