How to Ensure Your Employees are Safe to Return to Work After COVID-19
Coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused all non-essential businesses to shut down in order to help “flatten the curve” — a phrase taken up by health officials that means to slow the spread of infection. But while things may be hard now, eventually things will normalize and people will return to work. It’s of utmost importance to ensure a workplace is safe so employees can rest easy knowing that they won’t be needlessly exposed to the virus; and that returning to work prematurely doesn’t cause another outbreak.
CDC Recommendations on Returning to Work
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidance for when healthcare workers can return to work after they had (or suspected they had) the virus, they have issued a few updates for those not in a healthcare setting as well. Nevertheless, the guidance offered is a great rule of thumb for every business in taking extra precautions.
Firstly, it’s important to know the health status of each employee before they return to work.
- Have they exhibited symptoms of COVID-19?
- How long ago did they exhibit symptoms and have they improved?
- Have they been tested?
If an employee has a fever and cough, but recovers without a test or monitored medical care, the CDC recommends they can return to work:
- Three days after their fever has resolved with no medication aid, their respiratory symptoms improve drastically (no coughing or shortness of breath) and have not returned; and
- At least 7 days after they first experienced symptoms
If an employee has been tested positive for COVID-19 and exhibits symptoms, they may return to work after:
- Their fever resolves without the aid of medication
- Their respiratory symptoms improve significantly; and
- They test negative for COVID-19 for two tests in a row, with 24 hours between each test
If an employee has been tested positive for COVID-19 and does NOT exhibit symptoms, they may return to work:
- After 7 days since their positive test; and
- They do not suffer any subsequent illness
Provide a Healthy Work Environment
- Increase ventilation rates to your HVAC
- Increase the percentage of outdoor air that circulates into the system
- Provide tissues, hand sanitizer, and the necessary supplies to maintain proper hand hygiene
- Install no-touch trash receptacles
- Discourage hand-to-hand contact
- Perform regular cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces
- Arm your employees with the most recent guidelines from the CDC
In addition, prepare to institute flexible workplace and leave policies and keep track of employee absenteeism. The CDC also recommends enhanced cleaning and disinfection after persons suspected/confirmed to have COVID-19 have been in the workplace.
These guidelines are subject to change as new information about coronavirus is studied and revealed, but we will keep you up-to-date on the latest news in our blog.
Are Other Nations Returning to Work Yet?
The short answer is: no. With stay-at-home orders being extended and the number of cases still on the rise, there is not yet a country that is beginning to normalize and have its workforces returning on a day-to-day basis.
However, Bloomberg recently reported that the EU has been drafting plans on how to slowly lift restrictions safely. Their biggest worry is that suddenly allowing every business to return to normal operations will inevitably lead to asymptomatic carriers (or irresponsible sick people) to spread the disease, causing another outbreak and stressing health systems even further. In fact, they call a sudden spike in cases “unavoidable”.
Some, but not all, of the conditions which must be met in order for quarantine restrictions to be removed are:
- Long-term decline in cases
- Widespread testing must be readily available
- Hospitals must be well-equipped to deal with an inevitable spike in cases
- Social distancing must still be practiced
- Travel bans would be lifted on a case-by-case basis depending on how each country is doing
- Return to work will be gradual; those who can work remotely still should. Industries deemed “essential to economic activity” would return
- Bars, restaurants, and other retail would have limited open hours and foot traffic would be restricted
For further information on the EU’s quarantine roadmap, check out Bloomberg’s article.
COVID-19 Workplace Disinfection
Aftermath Services offers COVID-19 cleanup to disinfect your workplace. We adhere to a stringent coronavirus demobilization process for our equipment, trucks and waste storage areas and also have the proper licensing/permitting to legally and safely perform the cleaning.
For more information on our coronavirus cleaning methods visit our COVID-19 web page or call 877-769-6917.