Countries all over the globe are grappling with COVID-19. As the effects of the Coronavirus continue to impact workplaces worldwide, the term “social distancing” is becoming part of everyday vocabulary. Sean Morrison, a geriatrician with Mount Sinai Health System in New York, reminds us “Social distancing doesn’t mean no one ever sets foot out the front door. It means being careful.”
Social distancing is an effective tool in combating the coronavirus outbreak, but what does social distancing mean for your business? While each facility is unique, there are a few tips and products you can incorporate into daily operations to help promote social distancing, keep everyone at your workplace safe, and help flatten the curve.
Keep People at a Distance
COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly person-to-person, including between people who are in close contact (within about six feet) with one another. Administrative controls, measures used to change individuals behaviors, are relatively inexpensive to implement but are highly effective. Some examples of using these controls to keep customers and visitors at a distance include:
- For grocery stores and other essential retail shops, the check-out lines can get backed up with people standing too close to each other. Use floor markings to indicate “Line Begins Here” and place something like Smart Stripe Dots at equal distances so customers understand where to wait in line.
- In reception areas and waiting rooms, place chairs six feet apart from each other and clear out any extra seating. Use signs at the check-in desk to remind patients and clients to maintain space between one another.
- For restaurants and food centers offering take-out or providing meals to go, post signs in the facility to keep six feet of distance from one another. It’s also a good idea to restrict available seating so customers can’t sit close to each other while waiting
- In areas of close quarters, like elevators, some buildings have taken creative measures to keep people apart. Check out how this condo is keeping residents at a safe distance with floor markings.
Many essential workplaces and institutions must continue to operate during the outbreak, limiting their capacity in order to do so. Some places, like banks only allow three to five customers in at a time, posting signs on the front door to alert any customers. Restricting the number of patients or clients you are allowing at this time makes it possible for people to distance themselves
— Jessi (@jessipiii) March 14, 2020
If your building is open to the public right now, encourage individuals to stay home whenever possible and reschedule their visits for a later time. It may be helpful to post signs directly informing visitors of your restrictions. Many workplaces are taking operations online by scheduling virtual visits or encouraging customers to use the business’s app instead of stopping by in person.
Add Physical Barriers and Visual Reminders
Limiting in-person meetings and setting up employees to work remotely is highly recommended, but not always feasible. For offices and businesses still having personnel come in, install physical barriers in doorways and between cubicles to keep the distance and cordon off common areas like breakrooms, kitchens, and smoking areas wherever possible.
Where physical or temporary barriers cannot be installed, maintain social distancing with visual reminders. Floor signs are a cost-effective, easy-to-install visual barrier you can put just about anywhere in your facility. In areas you know employees. congregate, it would be beneficial to post wall signs reminding everyone to practice social distancing.
According to CDC guidelines, hand hygiene and handwashing is the most effective intervention to prevent the spread of germs. Remove shared or communal and shared items such as magazines in waiting rooms, coffee or food products for waiting customers, and ensure hygiene supplies—handwashing stations, sanitizer dispensers, sanitary wipes to wipe down grocery cart handles, door handles, etc.—are readily available for employees and customers.
A firm handshake makes a good impression in any social or business setting and a handshake often signifies the closing of an important deal, but in the face of this pandemic we must work to stop the handshake! The World Health Organization is advising individuals to avoid shaking hands in order to stop the spread of the virus. Instead, WHO recommends greeting people with a wave or a bow. Personally, we like a good foot shake.
Don’t Forget Safety
Although health and hygiene should be your top priority right now, it’s important to not neglect safety. When planning for social distancing/installing barriers, don’t forget about keeping emergency routes and exits clear. In the case of an emergency, people still need to find their way out and be able to exit as quickly as possible. Use floor tape to create pathways for people to wait in line, which also helps to regulate foot traffic, prevent overcrowding, and ensure smooth evacuations.
Grocery and retail stores are dealing with large inventory shipments to keep their location stocked. It’s crucial to keep walkways clear to reduce tripping or fall hazards. Designating certain hours to restock and clean will ensure the safety of both customers and employees.
At Creative Safety Supply, we aim to be your source for industrial safety – always. Whether it’s helping you implement social distancing in your facility or working to reduce the hazards in industrial environments, safety is always our priority.
Check out these sources for more information on COVID-19:
- How Restaurants Can Practice Social Distancing
- Social Distancing for Casinos: Don’t Gamble on Safety
- Reopening Retail: Social Distancing for Shoppers
- OSHA Issues Stronger Workplace Guidance on COVID-19
- Back to Operations: Manufacturing Safety During the COVID-19 Outbreak
- Establishing + Enforcing Long-Term COVID-19 Procedures
- Protecting Stockroom and Loading Dock Workers During the Pandemic
- Resuming Elective Healthcare During the COVID-19 Pandemic