How to Prepare and Protect Your Business and Employees
COVID-19 has left everyone scrambling searching for answers, and among these are businesses and employers. It is important for employers to know what steps they need to be taking to prepare themselves and their employees for the COVID-19 outbreak. There are many things that employers should be doing, such as actively encouraging sick employees to stay home. It is important to ensure your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that you maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member. When reviewing all these policies, be sure that employees are fully aware of them. Encourage employees to use respiratory and hygiene etiquette at all times, and make it easy for them to do so by placing posters around the office encouraging this, providing tissues and no-touch disposable receptacles for use by employees, and providing soap, water, and alcohol-based hand sanitizers. In addition to encouraging employees to practice cleanliness, it is important to keep a clean workplace. You can do this by routinely cleaning frequently touched surfaces such as workstations, countertops, doorknobs, light switches, and faucet handles and by providing employees with disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces such as desks, keyboards, computer mice, and remote controls can be wiped down before and after use.
An outbreak of COVID-19 in and around your community may result in increased numbers of employee absences. It is important to be prepared for this possibility. Start by implementing plans to continue your essential business functions in case you experience higher than usual absenteeism. Cross-train employees to perform essential business functions so that the workplace is able to operate even if key staff members are absent. With increasing numbers of cases throughout the United States, it is important to caution employees about traveling, and especially those of increased age or those with underlying medical conditions. Be sure your organization and its employees have the latest information on areas where COVID-19 is spreading. Make sure all persons in your organization traveling to locations reporting COVID-19 are briefed by a qualified professional. Employees returning from an area where COVID-19 is spreading should follow travel guidance provided by health officials for their itinerary, such as quarantine or self-monitoring for fever and respiratory symptoms for 14 days after their return.
It is essential to review and update your organization’s emergency operations plan. Be sure that the plan is flexible, and includes how you will communicate information to employees and what to do if someone becomes ill with COVID-19 at your workplace. Share your plan with employees, and share best practices with other business in your community to improve community response efforts. If possible, employers should consider giving employees the option to work remotely. Take a moment and assess whether this would be a feasible option for your organization. If not, you can also consider using other methods such as staggered shifts to reduce potential exposures. If warranted, consider canceling any large work-related meetings or events.
Every Business Should Have A Plan
- Do you know what kind of emergencies might affect your company?
- Do you know what you will do in an emergency situation?
Develop a Business Continuity Plan.
- Do you know which staff, procedures and equipment are absolutely necessary to keep operating?
- Do you have back-up plans for those operations?
- Do you know what you will do if your building or plant is not accessible?
- Do you know what you will do if your suppliers are impacted by a disaster?
- Are you ready for utility disruptions?
Prepare your Emergency Plan.
- Do you have an evacuation and shelter-in-place plan?
- Do you have a plan to communicate with employees before, during and after an incident?
- Do you have copies of building and site maps with utilities and emergency routes marked?
- Are your employees trained for medical emergencies?
Practice the Emergency Plan.
- Have you practiced your plan recently?
- Do you practice and coordinate with other businesses in your building or industrial complex? Have you reviewed your plans in the last 12 months?
Review Insurance Coverage.
- Have you reviewed your insurance coverage recently to see if you’re covered in a disaster?
Secure Your Facility and Equipment.
- Have you secured all the ways people, products and supplies get into your building?
- Have you conducted a room-by-room walk through to determine what can be strapped down?
Improve Cyber Security.
- Do you regularly install patches to your software?
- Have you installed a firewall on your computer?
- Do you regularly update your antivirus software?
Promote Family and Individual Preparedness.
- Do you encourage employees to have a personal emergency supply kit and a family communication plan?
If you answered “No” to any of these questions, check out the information below and learn how to better prepare your business.