Shining The Spotlight On A Healthier Workplace
This is an article “Shining The Spotlight On A Healthier Workplace” by Marc Primo
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many workplaces to shutter and has emphasized health protocols in public places. With vaccines and booster shots doing their jobs, many employees worldwide are making their way back to offices, while some are still sticking to ‘work from home’ arrangements since several variations are still around. Nonetheless, most employers are adjusting to the new normal by focusing on how they can make the workplace a safer and healthier environment.
With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) upholding the use of masks in public places and vaccination mandates, the US government continues to monitor the spread of the Omicron variant, specifically its BA.2 subvariant, which has caused over 85% of cases in the country today. In early April, spikes in weekly averages were seen, which prompted health officials to strictly evaluate rates of hospitalizations, deaths, and the availability of health care facilities all over the country.
With the end of the pandemic not yet in sight but the reopening of the US economy becoming increasingly necessary, here are a few simple mitigating measures you could implement for workplace safety:
Double down on sanitation practices
We all know that office equipment comprises some of the dirtiest, infection-laden nests for germs. A typical computer keyboard is 20,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat; a mobile phone 9,000 times dirtier; and an office desk 400 times worse. You are greeted with 16 million microbes each time you log in to your computer and before the pandemic, one study showed that only 3% of workplaces could thoroughly clean their equipment and facilities.
When COVID-19 hit, sales of hand sanitizers, masks, sanitary wipes, and face shields went up significantly, being the only accessible solutions for most offices that were still in operation. Some employers even went the extra mile and installed glass barriers to minimize viral transmission or purchased air filter systems that cut back harmful aerosols floating in the air. The problem is that these health and sanitation measures can break the bank.
If you want to cut costs before opening the office to your employees, you might want to increase the number of times your sanitation team cleans your equipment and facilities to at least three times per day. Things can also be safer and easier for your sanitation team if you encourage employees to clean up after using printers, laptops, phones, and other office tools with disinfectant wipes.
Promote immunity boosters
Another way you can prevent your employees from getting sick is by offering them complimentary fruits, water, and vitamins in the breakroom. These will help increase their immunity against disease while also providing them with perks for a job well done.
Of course, you’d want to avoid sugary items that can affect the health of employees with comorbidities like diabetes and hypertension, among others. Best to assign a responsible person in human resources or at the office clinic to hand out vitamins and over-the-counter medicine to avoid potential health issues.
Offering healthy bites to your employees promotes better health and encourages them to practice good nutrition, so do consider themed meal days such as Salad Tuesdays or Fruity Fridays every week.
Get more no-contact options
Some workplaces still utilize security badges which are touched multiple times by multiple people. Consider switching to cost-efficient apps that allow contact for logging in and out. Better yet, look for apps that can do digital contact tracing for your employees if you have the budget.
Tech companies are abuzz today with the birth of digital contact tracing apps that promises a potential $4.3 billion market. Installing one in your office could prevent new outbreaks by singling out employees who need isolation for the time being.
If you have more than 1,000 employees in your office at a time, these apps will help you curb the spread of COVID-19 and prevent you from having a workforce shortage to sustain operations.
While you’re at it, try to be more lenient with office attire by allowing male employees to avoid wearing neckties that could trap pathogens from the air and transfer harmful viruses to others.
Promote healthier habits
We all know that prevention is always better than cure. Aside from promoting healthier snacks in the office, encouraging your employees to exercise daily and watch their diet could minimize those sick days and use of health coverage.
Conduct health and wellness training on promoting proper sleep and let them know how they can access the free healthcare you or your city provides. Another essential thing to take note of is your employees’ mental health. One research showed that 37% of employees were worried about salary adjustments during the pandemic, while 55% had little to no enthusiasm for going to work.
Small businesses, for example, can opt for high-deductible health plans that include mental health support combined with health savings accounts (HSA) which they can use to pay for medicines and other covered medical expenses.
Safety first and always
In the old days, construction sites with heavy machinery were the only workplaces that gave paramount importance to on-site safety. These days, restaurants, retail shops, and the typical office space are also required to implement proper safety measures against COVID-19.
Small businesses can take advantage of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) free handbooks on workplace safety and self-inspection checklists. Teaching all of your employees the proper way to avoid accidents and work-related illnesses is every employer’s responsibility as much as optimizing sanitation practices round the clock.
It’s also a good idea to review the Key Employer Responsibility section of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 which includes, but not limited to, the adoption of a health and safety program, keeping records of work-related injuries or illnesses, and the provision of medical examinations and training according to OSHA standards. Knowing your responsibilities to your employees in health matters and honoring them will only help increase morale and productivity.