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With many states gradually easing coronavirus lockdowns, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now issued guidelines for reopening offices.
“Workers in office buildings may be at risk for exposure to the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Office building employers, building owners and managers, and building operations specialists can take steps to create a safe and healthy workplace and protect workers and clients,” the federal agency said when announcing the guidelines.
For starters, employers are encouraged to ensure that building ventilation systems are operating properly. Opening windows and doors, when feasible, to “increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible” is also recommended. CDC officials also advised employers to check for rodents and mold growth that could be harmful to employees’ health. (Indeed: The stagnant water in plumbing systems can lead to a buildup of harmful bacteria if not properly managed by facilities managers, according to a recent report. Particularly worrisome is Legionella bacteria, which can cause Legionnaires’ disease, a serious type of pneumonia.)
Additionally, employers are encouraged to “identify where and how workers may be exposed to COVID-19 at work,” per the CDC.
More specifically, employers are advised to identify work or common areas where workers may be less than 6 feet apart — such as break rooms or meeting rooms, for instance. New building guidelines should also be well-communicated with all employees, as well as any contractors who may visit.
Employers are also urged to modify workspace setups to ensure employees are able to social distance from one another. When this is not possible, the CDC advises to “install transparent shields or other physical barriers where possible.”
High-touch items – such as coffee pots and bulk snacks – should be replaced with “pre-packaged or single-serving items,” per the CDC.
What’s more, employers should “actively encourage employees who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 to notify their supervisor and stay home.”
Daily temperature checks, staggered shifts, and the forbidding of handshaking, hugs, and fist bumps may also be the norm in the post-coronavirus workplace.
You can read more of the guidelines for reopening offices here.