Workplace Safety in a Pandemic
The height of coronavirus might have passed, but this has not allayed worker fears. A recent investigation by ABC found that many workers fear a return to the workplace, with most doubting the ability of employers to create a workspace truly safe from the virus. While it’s undeniable that heading outside can be a daunting prospect given the spectre of the virus, signs are that it’s not only possible, but feasible, to create safe work spaces.
The first thing that businesses should note is that it is technically possible to eliminate COVID-19 from the workplace. As outlined by Safe Work Australia, simple soap and water will destroy the virus on any surface, meaning the key part of any workplace cleaning regimen is thoroughness, rather than the cleaning products involved. Workplaces can consider using private cleaning agencies to give an extra level of assurance expertise; for instance, an area with a demonstrable level of COVID-19 infection will require some specialist attention and the safe destruction of cleaning materials.
A key component of a COVID-free workplace is employee compliance. Rules and regulations vary from state to state, as noted by The Guardian, but you are free to put in as stringent a policy as you like in your business. Regular hand sanitising stations, mask use in transit, and social distancing at desks or workstations is a good start. Those with resources can look into performing temperature checks on employees. Put in the framework that’s best for your needs: in short – some businesses can afford to be lighter on controls than others.
An evolving strategy
All of these measures should be contained within a single safety operations strategy. That strategy, in turn, should be an organic one, which can and will naturally evolve over time. Australia has already endured a second wave of COVID-19, located primarily within Victoria, and there could be another one. This, and other considerations, should be at the forefront of business continuity planning. It’s a grim proposition, but your business should plan for the worst and then manage risk accordingly.
Yes – workplace safety can be managed effectively despite COVID-19. It requires new measures, and new powers for the business, but it can be done. The key? Hard work, commitment, and absolute diligence to ensuring the workplace is kept clean, with a strong view on continuity as the months in the future roll by.