Certify, screen and test: Key considerations when devising a return-to-work plan

Returning employees to the workplace amid COVID-19 is not as simple as just announcing the reopening or setting a return-to-work date. It will also not be business as usual. Not only will most workplaces be changed initially, but some of these changes may continue for the foreseeable future and long after the perceived finish line of the pandemic. Here are three key considerations when returning your employees to work:

  1. Implement basic prevention measures
  2. Apply workplace controls 
  3. Identify and isolate employees suspected of contracting COVID-19

It is therefore vital to train your workforce to understand the policies and processes and use the correct tools which could even include medical equipment. It is equally important to test and refine these policies and processes before re-opening the workplace. Research conducted by the McKinsey Institute suggests that softer safety measures, such as training and education, played a considerable role in instilling new habits among employees and customers.

1. Implement preventative measures   

It’s crucial to train and educate your employees on proper preventive measures in order to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 and also to support good hygiene practices. This could include providing employees, customers, and essential visitors with a place to wash their hands; establishing policies and practices for social distancing; and conducting routine cleaning and disinfection.

2. Apply workplace controls     

The “hierarchy of controls” can be used to manage workplace hazards associate with COVID-19. The most effective measures include engineering controls (such as increasing ventilation, installing physical barriers etc.); administrative controls (including minimizing contact between employees, encouraging sick employees to stay home and providing your workforce with education and training); and enforcing safe work practices including ensuring the availability of personal protective equipment where necessary. 

3. Identify and isolate employees suspected of contracting COVID-19    

Conducting daily health screenings as a condition to enter the workplace and encouraging employees to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 are further measures to protect your workforce and business. To facilitate this, organizations need to develop policies and procedures for employees to report when they are sick or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

Federal and state laws and regulations require most employers to have a fully automated fit-for-work employee pre-screening system. In this regard, and to minimize the spread of COVID-19, Stage2Data offers the COVID-19 pre-screening tool for workplaces, powered by Plan4Continuity. The tool can be used to communicate the appropriate processes, implement preventative measures, perform daily screening for COVID-19 symptoms, and report on potential COVID-19 cases.

As states and cities begin formulating plans to reopen, it is critical that companies begin planning and preparing for employees returning to the workplace. Having a well-developed return to work plan will allow companies to bring employees back safely and successfully to the workplace and adapt to evolving guidance and regulatory requirements.

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