As Texas returns to work, many employers are wondering how to do it the right way. One thing is for sure: Reopening your workplace will require small steps. It won’t be business as usual, at least not for quite some time.
The State of Texas outlines minimum standard health protocols for all businesses as they plot a return-to work-plan. The full protocol is updated here, and includes the following guidance:
- Train all employees on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette, and have them wash or sanitize their hands when entering the business.
- Screen employees before they enter the business and send home any employee who exhibits symptoms (with a clear, compliant procedure for returning to work once they recover).
- Have employees keep at least 6-feet separation from other individuals. If that’s not feasible, other measures such as using cloth face covering, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, cleanliness, and sanitation should be rigorously practiced.
- When providing meals to employees, have the meals individually packed for each employee. (No pizza parties or buffets…at least not yet.)
- Maintain strict health protocols for regularly and frequently cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and regularly used items, and make sanitizer and disinfectant available to employees along with visible signage to remind them of best practices.
Keep an eye on the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards when it comes to workplace safety as it relates to specific industries, risk groups, and other categories. The agency offers guidelines that give concrete steps to implement best practices in COVID-19 control and prevention. Remember that as employees return to work, OSHA has COVID-19 recordkeeping requirements in place with varying levels of (and evolving) compliance expectations.
And be open to long-term change. Consider what lessons have presented themselves during the shutdown that you might want to consider enacting or keeping around for a while. Ask yourself:
- Can we stagger shifts and breaks and should we implement one-way traffic patterns throughout the workplace to reduce employees “bumping into” each other or congregating together?
- Can workstations be moved apart, and should partitions be added in open areas?
- What employees can continue to work from home with success, at least part of the time?
- Who should return to business travel and who can stay put?
- Can video conferencing and calls be continued in lieu of face-to-face meetings?
- What parts of interviewing and onboarding can continue to be handled remotely when hiring?
SHRM offers a helpful checklist with these and other tips for instilling an incremental return-to-work plan. And when it comes to staffing and hiring, turn to us with your questions. We’re here to help you get back to business safely and effectively.