Reopening Workplaces after Covid-19
As COVID-19 vaccines roll out, many organizations are either re-opening or formulating plans to do so.
Some, including the Sunstates corporate office, never ceased operations and transitioned to working remotely when feasible. Obviously, our security officers can’t safeguard facilities from a computer at their kitchen table. Many of our clients, such as manufacturers, have kept all or most of their employees on-site. Again, assembly line workers can’t run equipment and produce products remotely.
There are no proven guidelines on how to reopen safely. But here are some lessons from the past year.
Initially, many facilities set up temperature checks for staff and visitors at entry points. In some cases, extra security posts were added to process them.
Many clients have also added signage of two types. The first reminds people of safety measures they need to observe, such as wearing masks and keeping at least six feet apart. The other type lists common symptoms of COVID-19 and reminds people to stay home if they exhibit any of them.
Some facilities have added crowd-control equipment and revised protocols. For example, at Sunstates, we’ve added stanchions and other devices to help keep people six feet apart. Floor markings are placed six feet from counters, again to remind people to keep their distance. Only two people are allowed in most elevators at a time. Employees must wear masks whenever they’re indoors, any time they are around people or leave designated work areas where they may come in contact with others.
Security personnel have completed additional training to ensure incoming staff and visitors or clients are wearing masks. Policy and operating manuals have been updated to help personnel manage enforcement, as well as what to do if staff, visitors or clients are noncompliant.
Organizations are spacing workstations further apart to encourage distancing. Some have added plexiglass barriers, both to encourage distancing and to reduce contact between staff or between staff and visitors or clients. Others are changing spaces to reduce the number of employees in any area at any given time.
Cleaning and sanitizing are also part of the equation. Regular sanitizing, as well as sanitizing between uses, remains critical. Usage of common areas, such as meeting spaces, lobbies, kitchens and bathrooms, is also limited, again with extra cleaning and sanitizing protocols in place.
In some cases, Sunstates clients have restricted access to visitors, management and vendors to minimize exposure from outside sources. To remain vigilant and maintain officer inspection goals, Sunstates created a virtual inspection process. This allows management to complete real-time, video-recorded inspections of employees at their posts via an app. To ensure compliance, frames of the inspection are uploaded into the compliance tracking system.
The Real Key: Education
An informed employee is a safer employee. Sunstates employees are required to use the online Learning Management System to learn about COVID-19 protection, vaccines and other related topics. Information is updated frequently, and all employees must sign a safety pledge that they agree to abide by company safety and sanitation protocols. This pledge is required for all corporate employees weekly.
Training is also key. At Sunstates, approximately 2% of employees have tested positive for the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic. Less than 2% of those who’ve tested positive have had serious symptoms that required hospitalization. Although even one employee with COVID-19 is too many, these low numbers speak to the value of educating employees and enforcing safety and sanitary precautions.
Whether companies can mandate vaccinations or require proof of vaccination as a condition of employment is an open question and, in some cases, may vary by state. Educating employees about the benefits of vaccination, as well as encouraging or financially supporting staff to get vaccinated, can proactively help avoid some of those conflicts.
Again, training, education, and keeping informed about the latest research and recommendations can go a long way towards managing employee and client health and safety.
Reopening Workplaces after Covid-19
To discuss security and other issues when reopening workplaces after Covid-19, please call Sunstates Security at 866-710-2019 or contact us.