Returning to Work with Physical Distancing

Shawnee Love   •   May 12, 2020

As we return to offices and workplaces around the province, we do so with eyes wide open and broad awareness of the risks and methods of transmission.

Excellent hand and respiratory hygiene, ensuring sick people stay home, and physical distancing measures are the three best ways to prevent the spread of viruses in general.

When returning to work in offices, here are recommendations we hope will help focus your efforts and ease the minds of staff and visitors alike:

  1. Reduce the number of staff in the workplace via:
  • Work from home arrangements where possible
  • Staggered or rotating returns
  • Adjusted schedules for start, end and breaks as well as days on and off
  1. Limit customers and visitors in the space with:
  • Opportunities to book appointments
  • One entry door and a separate exit door (where possible)
  1. Foster physical distance of 3-6 feet between people by:
  • Controlling access via entrance and exit monitoring as well as limits to who can enter elevators and washrooms (this can be done with signage and the honour system or with security people or even taping off washroom stalls to allow spacing)
  • Rearranging workstations and the floor plan to provide adequate spacing (e.g., remove guest chairs, move cubicles, etc.)
  • Implementing signs/ arrows to direct traffic and layout distance markers
  • Encouraging video conferences for social events and meetings

We also encourage you to carefully track dates, times, names and contact details of all those entering and exiting your location. This will facilitate identifying possible exposures and contacting those individuals who may have been exposed in a timely fashion if needed.  (Ensure this information is carefully protected and disposed of properly after the information becomes moot.)

Staying home if sick, washing hands, coughing and sneezing in your sleeve and avoiding contact with people and surfaces where viruses can be transmitted has been the advice for staying healthy during cold and flu season since I can remember.  Now, employers are held responsible for enforcing these rules not only by employees and customers who could be affected but also by the provincial orders and recommendations and occupational health and safety regulations.

We hope these 10 tips help you, but we also encourage you to assess your worksite and engage your employees in identifying measures which help keep everyone safe.  Next blog we will be talking about which personal protective equipment and barriers you may want to consider.