The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised offices to set up physical barriers between employees, post signs ensuring people are 6 feet apart, and clean common areas in new guidance for reopening from pandemic shutdowns.
The guidelines outline how to check if a building is ready to be opened, where employees are most likely to be exposed to the coronavirus in office settings, and how to minimize the risk of exposure. Released Wednesday, the guidance is meant to help as states begin to open up and people start to go back to work.
The guidelines recommend checking the building’s ventilation system and any “hazards associated with prolonged facility shutdown.” It would be best to “increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible” by opening windows and putting fans in the office.
Employers are supposed to “identify potential workplace hazards that could increase risks for COVID-19 transmission.” This includes places such as break rooms and meeting rooms where it isn’t likely workers could stay 6 feet apart from another person.
Any seating in the office should be 6 feet away from other workers, and “methods to physically separate employees in all areas of the facilities” should be used. In the absence of physical barriers, signs or tape should be used to tell people to stand 6 feet apart.
Anyone who comes to work and starts to experience symptoms of the coronavirus should “immediately be separated from others, provided a face mask if they are not using one, and sent home with instructions and guidance on how to follow-up with their health care professional,” the CDC says.
It also recommends staggering “shifts, start times, and break times” to limit traffic in the office, employing cleaning policies for common areas where a lot of people are, and posting guidelines in the office for all the new procedures and recommendations.
If employees have to use public transportation to get to work, the CDC recommends employers give them an incentive to use other forms of transportation that aren’t as public, “such as offering reimbursement for parking for commuting to work alone or single-occupancy rides.” Employers could also let employees work at different times, so they don’t have to commute on public transportation at peak hours.