Though the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging, workplaces have started to reopen. Fortunately, we have learned a lot about how to protect ourselves and others. If you’re returning to work, here are some things health experts say you can expect. Remember that there is no national strategy, and all workplaces have different needs and concerns, so the best way to know exactly what to expect from your employer is to ask. In general, though, these are some common adaptations businesses are implementing.
By now, you’re probably familiar with the six-foot rule. That’s how much distance experts agree you should leave between yourself and anyone who doesn’t live in your household. Expect signage and floor markings, virtual meetings, and other ways of keeping people apart.
You’re probably also familiar with masking or covering your face to prevent respiratory droplets or aerosols from traveling to others. Many workplaces now require all employees, customers, and other visitors to cover their faces when in other people’s presence.
If you work in an area where social distancing is impossible, such as an assembly line, you may see Plexiglas dividers between workstations. Though this by no means universal, it’s a common and inexpensive strategy that can help lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission between coworkers.
Frequent handwashing or sanitizing is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of contracting the virus. If your job makes it tough to run to the restroom every time you need to wash, hand sanitizer can be an extremely important safety measure.
Though it’s primarily airborne, there is some risk of contracting COVID-19 from surfaces. Therefore, most businesses are upping their cleaning procedures and regularly disinfecting high-touch surfaces such as elevator buttons and door handles throughout the day.
Less shared equipment
Along the same lines, you will probably notice less shared equipment, from computers to tools. If you need to share something, you’ll likely be expected to disinfect it both before and after using it.
Closed common areas
It can be hard to maintain social distance in break rooms and employee cafeterias, so these areas may be closed or heavily restricted. Ask your employer how things like lunch breaks may be affected.
Health and wellness plans
Most employers have begun to develop COVID-related health and wellness plans. These may include temperature checks before entering the facility, paid time off for workers who show symptoms or test positive, on-site testing, and even programs to address stress in the workplace. Ask what your employer is offering.
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