While many companies are delaying their return to office plans due to the surge in cases of the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant, for some that’s not possible. So how do you create and execute a plan that supports a successful and safe return to the office or plant?
Here are five tips you should know and implement as soon as possible.
1. Layer Multiple Safety Measures
Known as the “swiss cheese model,” layering several health and safety measures decreases the risk of COVID-19 transmission significantly. The idea is that by using many defense strategies at the same time, one of them will stop an adverse event from happening.
The Pandemic Prepared Certification Standard for Corporate Offices is a great example of a swiss cheese strategy. It is a robust set of best practices from agencies around the world, consolidated into a single document. This comprehensive standard has more than 60 requirements in the Health Crisis Mitigation and Management section alone, with five sections in total. We recommend all our food and beverage customers use this standard as their go-to reference for building their COVID-19 office or plant guidelines and programs.
2. Encourage Vaccination
Companies are starting to mandate vaccination for their employees and local agencies are starting to mandate proof of vaccination for dining indoors. Thinking of mandating the COVID-19 vaccine at your company? There are many legal and practical details companies should consider when deciding on an approach.
For the latest update on vaccine mandates and their legal considerations, join us and the experts at Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath at the upcoming webinar: COVID-19 Variants: Vaccine Mandates and Critical Safety Strategies on Friday September 17, 2021 at 12 p.m.–1 p.m. CT. Register Here >
3. Build a Clear Communication Plan
An evolving situation means your message may change over time. Building a high-level of trust and transparency during this tumultuous time is critical to employees understanding and complying with your workplace COVID-19 office protocols. Your plan should include: Who’s in charge? What’s the message? How will it be shared? When will it be shared?
4. Establish a Robust Mask Handling Policy
Beyond the basic policy of wearing masks on-site, you should also know what happens to that mask at the end of the day or shift. To control transmission risk, you need to control of used PPE – they should be regarded as contaminated. Used disposable masks should not be thrown in regular trash and reusable masks should not be taken home. You should have separate, designated doffing areas, clearly marked separate containers for disposable and reusable PPE, and programs for handling used disposable masks and cleaning reusable masks.
5. Plan for Employee Illness
Catching COVID-19 at work is one of the top concerns of employees facing a return-to-office date. While many companies have a plan for what to do when an employee suspects they have COVID-19, it’s also critically important to have a plan on how and when an employee should return to work after contracting COVID-19. Depending on your local circumstance, you may choose a symptom-based strategy or a test-based strategy.
Learn more at our upcoming webinar COVID-19 Variants: Vaccine Mandates and Critical Safety Strategies on Friday September 17, 2021 at 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. CT. Register Here >
Judi Lazaro is the Senior Category Director for Food Safety at AIB International, where she works with leading food and beverage companies to maintain the highest food safety and integrity standards through consulting, inspection and training. Judi is passionate about sharing her over 30 years of food safety and quality experience with associations, governments and universities around the world. Judi is an in-demand expert on pandemic preparedness, FSMA, Integrated Pest Management and brand protection.