How to Make Your Breakroom Safe for Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic
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As you create your COVID-19 master plan and begin implementing OSHA's recommended administrative and engineering controls, it's important to create health and hygiene protocols for breakrooms, locker rooms, or other staff-specific areas.
Team members should not congregate in large numbers
- Physical distancing protocols should be used in employee break areas, uniform control areas, training classrooms, shared office spaces, the employee services window (via a teller style window), and other high-density areas in order to ensure appropriate distancing between employees.
- Stagger break times
- Reduce the number of tables and space them out so that they're at least 6' apart
- Reduce the number of chairs at each table and/or consider adding partitions or barriers to tabletops to mitigate the spread of COVID-19
- Use floor signs or tape to mark where chairs should stay in order to maintain a safe distance
- Employee pre-shift meetings should be conducted virtually or in areas that allow for appropriate physical distancing between employees. Larger departments should stagger employee arrival times to minimize traffic volume in back of house corridors and service elevators.
Update cleaning routines and encourage frequent disinfecting
Disinfect high-touch surfaces after each group's break or lunch
- Use EPA-approved disinfectants that kill COVID-19
- Provide disinfectant wipes so employees can wipe down a surface (such as vending machine buttons/keypads) before use
- Perform normal overnight cleaning as usual
- If your break room has a communal computer or other electronic device, add a wipeable cover
- Water/beverage faucets that require workers to operate them with their hands should also be disinfected three times per day.
- Perform thorough cleaning in break rooms and lunch areas, changing areas, loading docks, and kitchens.
Don't forget about facemasks and hand sanitizer
- Ensure that sanitary facilities stay operational and stocked at all times and provide additional soap, paper towels, and hand sanitizer when needed.
Ensure your staff knows and understands all new policies, and post them throughout your facility.
Post signs clearly explaining your company's policies for:
- Face coverings and masks
- Hand washing / hand sanitizing
- Social distancing
- Daily symptom screening
- Sick leave policies
- Name and contact information of your company's coronavirus plan expert
- Post the signs:
- At entrances
- On tabletops
- On bulletin boards
Don't plan large parties or potlucks
- Consider alternative ways to celebrate employee birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays.
- Employers and employees should not provide communal meals to employees, and should not make food available in common areas where employees may congregate.
- If silverware is provided, it should be cleaned in a dishwasher to help ensure thorough cleaning and disinfection.
Don't share utensils or high-touch communal amenities
- Remove communal condiments and use disposable products when possible.
- Discontinue the use of shared food and beverage equipment in office pantries (including shared coffee brewers).
- If vending machines are used, provide and require cleaning and disinfectants to wipe down after each use.
Where possible, create outdoor break areas with shade covers and seating that ensures physical distancing, and encourage the use of outdoor seating areas and social distancing for any small group activities such as lunches, breaks, and meetings.
The status of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the recommendations from local, state, and federal officials continues to change. It's a good idea to sign up for notifications from these agencies to help ensure you're staying up to date.
❏ Automatic hand-sanitizer dispenser and refills
❏ Hand sanitizer
❏ Disposable facemasks
❏ Disposable gloves
❏ Facial tissue
❏ Paper towels
❏ Tabletop partitions
❏ PPE organizers/holders
❏ Disinfecting wipes
❏ Disinfecting wipes holders
❏ Hands-free waste containers with lids
❏ Social distancing signs/markers