Physical Distancing in the Workplace

July 21, 2020 Zoé Paradis

Physical Distancing in the Workplace

How can you adapt the post-pandemic workplace to ensure employees stay healthy and safe? Start with a careful review of government and public health authorities’ guidelines in your jurisdiction, followed by a workplace evaluation. Look at space available, traffic flow and identify problem areas to address.

Create a safe space

Reconfigure work areas to maintain a minimum 2-meter distance. Install physical barriers, such as Plexiglas or high-walled cubicles. Consider keeping doors open or installing hands-free soap dispensers and garbage bins to reduce touch points.

Reroute traffic

Limit entry and exit routes. Post signage and tape arrows on the floor to indicate one-way traffic flow in hallways or other confined spaces. Restrict the number of people allowed in common areas such as bathrooms, kitchens or break rooms at one time. Consider staggering shifts to reduce physical contact between employees.

Keep it clean

Implement a strict cleaning regime. The Public Health Agency of Canada has published a guide to disinfecting public spaces during COVID-19 (available for download here). Eliminate the sharing of equipment between employees or provide disinfectant. Discourage the sharing of food or dishes and consider removing communal appliances such as a coffee maker or microwave. Offer appropriate personal protective equipment such as masks, face shields etc. and keep sufficient stock. Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer throughout the workplace, and refill dispensers regularly.

Test your plan

Perform a trial run and train staff on new procedures before welcoming your team back to the workplace. Review and update procedures as necessary, incorporating staff feedback and suggestions for improvement.

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