Considerations for the safe reopening of businesses
Resuming your business operations following an unprecedented and unexpected shutdown may be daunting. We encourage you to review the considerations below, which focus on individual employee health and safety, ensuring a safe and smooth reboot of your facility and operations.
Before you invite your team back, focus on your facility operations, processes and safety-system conditions.
Three primary lines of illness defense
- Identify and implement continued work-from-home offerings where practical to increase social distancing.
- Implement social distancing into common areas (e.g. lunchrooms, lobbies, elevators etc.).
- Implement social and labor distancing — make facility or workstation reorganization(s) where practical.
- Evaluate the reopening of facility fitness centers, game rooms, outdoor courts, or other social-centric gathering areas. Consider staggered openings and delay those of nonessential spaces.
- Conduct a thorough cleaning of your facility in accordance with the CDC guidelines for disinfecting your facility.
- Identify and address sanitation-related clearance protocols for shift changes.
- Assess any potential external factors (i.e. shared office space, common areas or other building tenants).
- Develop protocols for evaluating individual employee health.
- Contemplate employee commuting methods (i.e. mass transit, carpool).
- Provide ample hygiene products (i.e. hand sanitizer, masks and gloves).
- Set-up cleaning stations at employee entrances and implement staggered start times to support social distancing.
- Implement protocols around the proper use and disposal of any personal protective equipment.
- Post flyers outlining proper mask and glove removal and handwashing procedures.
- Reevaluate company sponsored food and drink offerings.
General worker safety
- Conduct thorough facility and job site pre-inspections; specifically targeting any higher-hazard machinery or processes that may exist in your daily operations.
- Conduct machine guarding inspection and tests, as applicable.
- Identify routinely physically demanding tasks or jobs — consider minimizing or limiting individual requirements for the first few weeks to minimize injury following a sedentary, non-physical period.
- Reassess individual worker physical capabilities and job demands.
- Identify and assess exposures related to shared equipment (i.e. vehicles, hand tools, computer equipment).
- Confirm the adequacy of your preferred or designated healthcare facility to handle potential COVID-related sicknesses. Refer to The Hanover’s provider site to easily find urgent care clinics and general health practitioners.
- Focus on health, wellness and stretching. Consider extended and more frequent breaks for the first few weeks, reduced hours, and limiting overtime.
- Address work-from-home ergonomics training and equipment. The Hanover can help. Check out our new online ergonomics toolkit.
Employee management — raise awareness, update and communicate new protocols with your employees
- Exercise empathy and emotional intelligence with your staff.
- Evaluate and communicate any changes to employee benefits.
- Develop a reorientation plan for employees.
- Create a task force to begin developing an official work-from-home policy and communicable disease protocol.
- Encourage self-reporting, and self-isolating for those who come in contact with COVID-19 positive staff.
- Develop and communicate a clear and confidential channel for employees to direct their questions.
- Outline and communicate any new facility sanitation or enhanced hygiene guidelines.
- Review and implement new state or regulatory health and safety requirements or guidelines per jurisdiction.
- Update your emergency action plan to include protocols for addressing a health alert or concern regarding the health of an employee. Remind employees of emergency response contact information.
How to approach customers or general visitors to your premises
- Implement entry protocols to evaluate individual health.
- Consider requiring your customers to wear facemasks when in your facility.
- Consider limiting the number of customers inside at one time and enforce the current social distancing guidelines.
- Develop a sanitizing schedule for publicly accessed spaces in accordance with CDC guidelines.
Preserving your property and rebooting building systems
- Ensure all burglar alarm systems including motion and door detection are operational and active.
- Check all windows, doors and building openings to ensure they are operational and in good condition.
- Ensure all interior and exterior CCTV and video security equipment is operational and active.
- Ensure all keys or access cards for exterior doors are accounted for and with the appropriate persons.
Heating, plumbing and systems
- Ensure heating systems are operational and that no areas of heating coverage have failed during the shutdown, to prevent freezing of plumbing and sprinkler pipes.
- Turn back on all toilet and sink supply lines and any other water sources necessary to the building.
- Ensure all sump pumps are operational and functioning properly (if applicable).
- Restart any machinery and operations in a slow succession as to not create a damaging spike in voltage and load to the electrical system.
- Ensure all gutters and downspouts are clear of debris that may have collected during the shutdown.
- Repair any roof leaks that may have occurred during the shutdown. Consult with a professional roofing contractor.
- Inspect for evidence of pests/rodents and contact a pest control company if needed.
- Inspect all areas of the building to ensure there is no water penetration, stagnate/standing water and/or mold/microbiological growth on the floors, walls or ceilings.
- Evaluate any potential deferred capital improvements and the impact that may have on your facility.
Fire prevention systems
- Ensure the fire sprinkler riser and valves are accessible by emergency personnel, and that they are either chained/locked or monitored by a control valve alarm.
- If a fire pump is present and liquid fueled, ensure that the fire pump fuel tank is full and has been churned. If a fire suppression suction tank is present, ensure the tank has adequate water.
- Check inspection tags on the sprinkler riser and fire pump. If the sprinkler system or fire pump is due for an annual inspection/testing contact your sprinkler contractor. Churn all fire pumps monthly.
- Any fire hydrants on the property should be clear and the surrounding area accessible.
- Ensure all fire/smoke detection systems are active and alarm monitored.
- Close all fire doors or ensure all self-closing mechanisms are in working condition and operational.
For further detailed guidance documents and information including, cloth face coverings, stress and coping, cleaning and disinfecting facilities and vehicles, slowing the spread, symptoms, or if you are sick, please refer to the CDC’s coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage. There is specific information for various industries, groups and business operations.
Please also refer to some highlighted resources and printable flyers below: