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Making safer workspaces

As employees return to office spaces, there is a growing concern as to how employees can protect themselves at work. It is crucial that employers carefully plan their work spaces to minimise the risk of COVID transmissions. Consider the following essential ways you can adapt your workspace to protect your employees and customers during these risky times.

Physical distancing
One of the most essential recommendations employers should follow is making sure that there is at least 4 square metres of space per person. Consider making adjustments to the layout of your office space to allow workers to maintain a 1.5 metre distance from each other. These may include wall / floor markings and signage to keep workers aware of the distancing measures. It can be helpful to review tasks and events that require closer interaction, and map alternative ways to complete these tasks while still allowing social distancing to take place.

Close contact work
If the nature of the work your employees have to engage in requires close contact, then extra care needs to be taken to make sure that you minimise putting your employees at risk. Consider minimising the number of people within an area at any given time, and marking off certain areas of the workspace for essential employees only. Steps like staggering start and end times for shifts, encouraging employees to form teams with workers that need to work together, and moving each group to a different area of the office where they still have separate access to facilities can help minimise risk of COVID.

Sanitation facilities
It is important to train all employees on the hygiene practices that will be in place at your office space. Consider signage in washrooms on handwashing protocols, providing well-stocked bathroom facilities and providing hand sanitiser in appropriate locations such as entries and exits. Regularly empty waste bins and encourage ventilation by opening windows and adjusting air-conditioning units to stop them from recirculating the same air.

Cleaning the office space
It is recommended that workspaces be cleaned at least once a day, and commonly used spaces are disinfected as regularly as possible. If your business is more customer-oriented, it may be useful to clean and disinfect more frequently. Surfaces that are constantly touched, like door handles, phones, credit card machines, toilets and buttons should be disinfected as frequently as possible. Consider encouraging workers to disinfect their regularly used items like glasses and phones.

Personal protective equipment
Consider providing employees with PPE like masks, gloves and eye protection equipment to foster safer work conditions. It can be useful to consult with employees about the types of PPE they prefer, to ensure that their areas of concern are being addressed. If employees work in close proximity to each other or with customers where interaction time is longer, it can be useful to install screens or sneeze guards to shield workers from droplets. However, employers must remember that these screens also need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly.


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