During the COVID-19 pandemic (also called coronavirus), many nonessential businesses have been required to close in order to decrease the spread of the virus. However, essential businesses—like those providing food or healthcare—are allowed and encouraged to stay open. In most cases, it is up to each individual state or city to determine what qualifies as an essential business. If your small business has been deemed essential in your area, you’ll likely need to put additional workplace safety measures in place in order to keep your employees and customers safe and healthy.

 

Which safety measures are appropriate for your essential business will vary according to location and industry—so check with local, state, and federal governments’ COVID-19 websites. You can also review the following general safety recommendations compiled from the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Safety Council, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

Here are 3 steps every essential business should take to help protect its employees and customers from COVID-19.

 

Step 1: Identify workplace risks

  • Inspect workplace for high-contact areas and places where heavy foot traffic is expected.

  • Consider your workers’ and customers’ exposure and risk levels resulting from their duties, activities, health, and age.

  • Anticipate varying customer activity due to increased or decreased product or service demand.

  • Expect interruptions in your supply chains and expect delayed deliveries of goods.

  • Customize local and federal safety recommendations to fit your specific location and industry.

Step 2:  Ensure employee safety

  • Promote hand washing and post hygiene signage in restrooms.

  • Provide hand sanitizer at workstations and in break areas.

  • Encourage workers to wear masks.

  • Train workers on sanitation, personal protective equipment, etc.

  • Allow at-risk employees to telework if possible.

  • Cross-train employees to cover absent workers’ duties.

  • Establish alternating shifts to reduce contact between workers.

  • Maintain distance between employees and from customers.

  • Install protective shields between employees and customers.

  • Discourage sharing of equipment, stations, and phones.     

  • Clean and disinfect workspaces, surfaces, pens, credit card machines, keyboards, etc.

  • Consider monitoring temperatures of employees.

  • Ask employees to stay home if they are sick.

  • Tell employees about leave eligibility under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Step 3: Increase customer safety

  • Set up separate shopping hours for high-risk populations.

  • Take orders online or by phone, fill orders for customers, and offer curbside pickup.

  • Set up one-way aisles.

  • Create six feet of space between customers in checkout lines using tape on floors.

  • Supply hand sanitizer and disinfect pens, credit card machines, carts, baskets, etc.

  • Set up no-touch payment options or take credit card payments by phone.

  • Eliminate self serve, bulk bins, and other high-contact areas.

  • Post signs to remind customers of social distancing and disinfection procedures.

  • Encourage customers to wear face coverings.

  • Improve air circulation.

  • Discourage gatherings of large groups.

  • Clean workspaces, public areas, door handles, and restrooms frequently.

 

 

 


Thanks for reading! Please note that this content is intended for educational purposes only. As best practices change regularly, you should refer to your trusted advisor for specific counsel. If you’re a small business owner, learn more about workplace safety or check your workers’ comp rate in 3 minutes.

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