Suggestions for Safely Reopening Your Business

Posted May 1, 2020

May 01, 2020 at 3:30 PM

Reopening our economy will be a community wide effort to ensure that both employees and customers remain safe. Any phased reopening must be in accordance with sound public health decisions, and with proper safety protocols outlined by local and state health departments. Although each industry will require unique and robust guidelines to safeguard against future breakouts, we wanted to lay out some general best practices to help you begin planning to reopen.

Any business planning to re-open or who already has employees on-site should build a plan to ensure employee and customer safety. This plan should be communicated with employees who may require additional training and resources to comply. You should also communicate your safety measures to customers and encourage them to practice safe shopping and social distancing.  Demonstrating that it is safe to shop, dine and otherwise safe to do business once again will be key in the coming weeks and months.

Determine risk by addressing where, how, and to what sources of COVID-19 might workers be exposed to, including the general public, customers, coworkers, healthcare providers, etc.
Industry risk factors that are unique to your business.
Workers individual risk factors (e.g., older age; presence of chronic medical conditions, including immune compromising conditions; pregnancy).

Develop plans to mitigate the spread within the workplace.
When possible, encourage employees to work from home and implement workplace protections and flexibility by actively encouraging sick employees to stay home and relaxing policies that would hinder employees from staying home such as require a doctor’s note.
Provide masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and safety glasses to employees.
Encourage employees to stop working every two hours and wipe down their work areas with sanitizing/disinfecting cleaning supplies, and wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Regularly disinfect or sanitize all handles and flat surfaces in common areas, preferably with a substance approved by the EPA for fighting SARS-CoV-2.

Consider weekly disinfecting workspace through fogging, electrostatically spraying, or something similar, and emphasize high-traffic areas using an experienced contractor that uses both EPA approved disinfectants and methods.

Develop contingency plans for situations that may arise as a result of outbreaks.
Increased rates of worker absenteeism and HR policies.

The need for social distancing, staggered work shifts, downsizing operations, working remotely, and other exposure-reducing measures.

Options for conducting essential operations with a reduced workforce, including cross-training workers across different jobs in order to continue operations or deliver surge services.

Interrupted supply chains or delayed deliveries.

Develop strategies for employees that have tested positive for COVID-19 within your workforce by defining and implementing protocols for:
The careful management of positive cases of COVID-19 that emerge in their workplace.
Contact tracing  i.e., the identification and disposition of all known contacts with-in the workplace who are at elevated risk and may need to be quarantined, as well as known locations with which the positive case had contact in order to initiate CDC compliant cleaning.

Communicate with employees and customers:

  • Share how your customers can do business with you safely and outline your expectations of them as they interact with employees.
  • Share how your company will manage a potential positive case prior to an infection prepare to implement them at your own facilities.
  • Clearly define the different levels of contact.
  • Notify both individuals and locations that the positive case has contacted prior to testing positive.
  • Continually update customers on all best pertinent information with the main focus being on employee and customer health and well-being.

Helpful Resources to Help you Plan

SHRM COVID -19 Resources 
US Chamber of Commerce 
McKinsey & Company 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
White House 
Iowa Osha