What should an employer do to help prevent COVID-19 spread?

Two years after the first documented case of COVID-19, the Omicron variant is peaking in many countries. It’s becoming clear that this virus will be an ongoing issue, one that requires many organizations to implement safety measures for their employees. 

 

And, when it comes to the specifics of workplace safety, the federal government is mostly leaving this up to employers. This raises the question: What should an employer do to help prevent COVID-19 spread? 

Wear a Mask 

One of the most enduring and polarizing symbols of this pandemic, masks, also happens to be one of the most powerful tools of COVID-19 prevention. Even with the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccinations, the data shows that, for many people, these vaccines do not prevent infection; rather, they diminish the morbidity of symptoms. Because of this, mere vaccine mandates do not prevent workplaces from experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19. 

 

With that said, employers should institute policies for indoor masking. Naturally, many people will be resistant to said policies. Not only are masks uncomfortable for many, but they’re often in short supply and require regular replacement. To account for these roadblocks, employers should consider supplying surgical masks at no cost. Additionally, organizations might also consider implementing hybrid work models when possible, allowing capable employees to work from home or on a hybrid scheduled shift. 

 

Be Proactive with Social Distancing

Another helpful tool to prevent COVID-19––one that has been with us since the beginning of the pandemic––is social distancing. In addition to wearing masks, maintaining physical distance from other people is another proven effective mechanism of spreading COVID-19. 

 

While this will look different in every workplace, you might consider the following options:

 

  • Refrain from holding large meetings or gatherings. 
  • Implement hybrid work models, reducing workplace capacity to 50% or less. 
  • Close off break rooms or limit the time people can be in there.
  • Discourage handshaking, hugs, or other forms of physical contact.
  • Encourage the use of outdoor facilities for meetings.

Implement a COVID-19 Policy

In addition to daily practices, organizations should institute regular testing and set up policies for notifying employees of potential exposure. 

When an Employee Tests Positive

Your COVID-19 policy should articulate a plan of action in the event of a worker testing positive for COVID-19. Based on CDC guidelines, employees who test positive should immediately self-isolate in their homes. Upon the criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, these people should not return to work. 

 

If an employee tests positive, you’ll also want to make sure that you have a designated person for them to notify. Upon notification of a positive test, this point person will ensure that additional notification and sanitation measures are taken.

When an Employee Has Been Exposed

When an employee tests positive for COVID-19, there is likely a handful of other employees who have come into contact with said person. CDC guidelines also recommend that these exposed parties also self-isolate for 5 full days, monitoring symptoms accordingly. Upon the confirmation of a negative COVID-19 test, these people may return to work.

Regularly Disinfect High Traffic Areas

Another way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to regularly sanitize and disinfect high-traffic areas. By frequently cleaning surfaces and spaces that many people use, you can drastically cut down the risk of cross-contamination.

 

In most workplaces, the following areas should be disinfected regularly:

  • Counters, desks, and tables
  • Door knobs, light switches, stair rails, and elevator buttons
  • Keyboards and phones
  • Toilets, faucets, and sinks

 

Additionally, when a worker tests positive for COVID-19, you’ll want to administer additional sanitization of any surfaces used by this worker. 

Track Employee Testing and Vaccination Status

In addition to masking, cleaning, and distancing, one of the most effective ways to prevent COVID-19 spread is through a regimen of vaccination and testing. And while these vaccines and tests can come from a variety of sources, organizations should consider streamlining their efforts through a vaccine management solution. 

 

For example, the vaccine management solution from ConfirmD provides a turnkey enterprise COVID solution. By providing employees access to the ConfirmD smartphone app, they can easily upload both COVID-19 vaccine records and test results in a HIPAA-compliant manner. From there, employers can access and monitor these records through an intuitive dashboard. 

 

If the past two years are any indication, COVID-19 is not a phase but rather a new normal. To keep your employees safe, you’ll want to keep careful track of their health records.

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