The first step toward reopening any office space should be to create a plan to mitigate the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. This includes addressing any facility concerns that could increase exposure, as well as minimizing potential contact between people. The following should be considered as part of the plan:
Ongoing Training & Evaluation
- Encourage employees to wear cloth face coverings in the workplace, if appropriate.
- Conduct a thorough hazard assessment to determine if workplace hazards are present, or are likely to be present, and determine what type of controls or PPE are needed for specific job duties.
- Implement and communicate policies and practices for social distancing in the workplace.
- Educate employees about steps they can take to protect themselves at work and at home.
- Communicate supportive workplace polices clearly, frequently, and via multiple methods.
Prevention of Spread
- Actively encourage sick employees to stay home.
- Consider conducting daily in-person or virtual health checks.
- When engineering and administrative controls cannot be implemented or are not fully protective, determine what PPE is needed for workers’ specific job duties, provide it, and train workers on proper use.
- Encourage workers to wear a cloth face covering at work if the hazard assessment has determined that they do not require PPE.
- Consider offering vulnerable workers duties that minimize their contact with customers and other employees, if the worker agrees to this.
- Offer flexible options such as telework to employees. This will eliminate the need for employees living in higher transmission areas to travel to workplaces in lower transmission areas and vice versa.
- Establish policies and practices for social distancing.Alter your workspace to help workers and customers maintain social distancing and physically separate employees from each other and from customers, when possible.
- Give employees, customers, and visitors what they need to clean their hands and cover their coughs and sneezes.
- Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails, and doorknobs.
- Perform enhanced cleaning and disinfecting after persons suspected/confirmed to have COVID-19 have been in the facility.
- Limit travel, and advise employees if they must travel to take additional precautions and preparations.
- Provide employees adequate time to wash their hands and access to soap, clean water, and single-use paper towels.
- When choosing cleaning chemicals, employers should use product approved for use against COVID-19 on the EPA-approved disinfectant list and follow product instructions. Use disinfectants labeled to be effective against emerging viral pathogens, diluted household bleach solutions (5 tablespoons per gallon of water), or alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol that are appropriate for the surface. Workers using cleaners or disinfectants should wear gloves as required by the product instructions.
Employee Screenings and Response to Positive Test
- Immediately separate employees who appear to have symptoms upon arrival at work or who become sick during the day and have a procedure in place for safe transportation home or to a healthcare provider.
- If an employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 infection, close off any areas used for prolonged periods of time by the sick person and wait 24 hours (or as long as possible) before cleaning and disinfecting to minimize potential for other employees to be exposed to respiratory droplets.
- Determine how you will operate if absenteeism spikes from increases in sick employees, those who stay home to care for sick family members, and those who must stay home to watch their children until childcare programs and K-12 schools resume.
- Implement flexible sick leave and supportive policies and practices
Job Site Changes
- Improve the building ventilation system.
- Ensure the safety of your building water system and devices after a prolonged shutdown.
- Minimize risk to employees when planning meetings and gatherings
- Stagger shifts, start times, and break times as feasible to reduce the density of employees in common areas such as screening areas, break rooms, and locker rooms.
- Consider installing portable high-efficiency HEPA air cleaners, upgrading the building’s air filters to the highest efficiency possible, and making other modifications to increase the quantity of outside air and ventilation in offices and other spaces.
It's also important to stay updated on the latest developments from CDC and OSHA.
Looking for more information? Check out our room-specific guidelines below.