No matter where your business operates, COVID-19 has indubitably had an impact. It’s important to know and implement safety protocols in your store or office to protect customers and employees from this virus.
Keep it clean
Before COVID-19, you were cleaning your business’s spaces to keep them clear of dirt and grime. Now you also need to sanitize often to fight the virus. The World Health Organization recommends wiping down tables and items like phones, keyboards and doorknobs often. While experts debate how easily you can get sick from contaminated surfaces, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says using Environmental Protection Agency-approved disinfectants are key to limiting virus exposure. If you can’t find any products on the list, you can use alternatives like 70 percent alcohol solutions or 1/3 cup bleach diluted in a gallon of water.
Besides deciding what to clean and with what products, the CDC stresses the importance of a disinfecting battle plan. You and your staff should figure out what needs to be disinfected when, and have someone responsible for making sure it gets done. The CDC recommends cleaning and disinfecting doors, light switches, and phones at least once a day and items like baskets, shopping carts, and credit card readers between users.
Your business is clean, but what about your employees? The World Health Organization is adamant that hand washing is a key way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Make it easier for your employees to wash their hands regularly. Everyone should have access to hand sanitizer as well, including customers, so that it’s a simple action they can take before or after interacting with each other. To remind everyone to stay clean, check CDC, state or county resources for flyers about hand washing and social distancing.
Prepare your staff
Before you open your doors to customers, consider how you will get your team ready to meet them. Several businesses check the temperature of their employees every day to confirm they don’t have a fever, one of the most common signs of COVID-19. However, Allen Smith, JD writes for the Society for Human Resource Management that you should do temperature checks with caution. Not everyone with a fever has COVID-19, and not everyone with the virus has an elevated temperature.
There’s also a legal grey area with temperature checks, as a section of the American Disabilities Act prohibits medical examinations by employers “unless they are job-related and consistent with business necessity.” Smith’s article suggests making sure that you have a policy about temperature checks in place that’s clearly communicated, that the readings are confidential, and that you consider paying employees you send home for high temperatures.
Since your staff will be near each other and the public, make sure you provide them with the appropriate gear, like face masks or gloves. While wearing face masks is a contentious issue, your local government might mandate it and you will have to comply with their rules. The CDC stresses the importance of both face masks and staying at least six feet apart to prevent your employees spreading from COVID-19, even when asymptomatic.
Besides items your staff may wear to prevent COVID-19 infection, look at your facility and see if there are other measures you can take to encourage social distancing. If you run a retail operation, consider a Plexiglas barrier at your point-of-sale between customers and cashiers. For a more traditional office setup, do what you can to keep work stations six feet apart and clean shared tools.
The advice around COVID-19 is constantly changing as we learn more about this virus. To make sure that you’re protecting staff and customers as well as you can, keep checking health resources for updated instructions.