With vaccines rolling out, more businesses & offices are weighing how to safely bring employees back to the workplace and if it is worth the risk. With everything we’ve learned about the virus over the past year, there are some clear, evidence-based steps that employers can take to protect their workers. A guide:
Address the risk of closures in offices
Although Covid-19 is a key health concern, long-term building closures can present risks of their own. Plumbing systems that sit unused, for instance, can be colonized by Legionella pneumophila, bacteria that can cause Legionnaires’ disease.
In offices buildings with lead pipes or fixtures, high levels of lead can also accumulate in stagnant water. Employers can reduce both risks by thoroughly flushing their taps or letting the water run for 15 minutes to an hour, before reopening.
Because the coronavirus is thought to spread primarily through tiny, airborne droplets, employers should upgrade their ventilation and filtration systems before bringing workers back. Although the ideal ventilation rate varies, employers should maximize the amount of fresh air coming in from outdoors in the offices.
Be wary of chemical disinfection
Stay away from fumigators, ionizers, ozone generators, or other ‘air cleaning’ devices that promise to neutralize the coronavirus by adding chemical disinfectants to the air. The compounds that these products emit – which may include hydrogen peroxide, bleach-like solutions, or ozone – can be toxic, inflaming the lungs, causing asthma attacks, and leading to other kinds of respiratory or cardiovascular problems. And there is no rigorous, real-world evidence that these devices reduce disease transmission.
The benefits of social distancing are minimal in offices in which most people are vaccinated and local case rates are low. Higher-risk workplaces may want to consider de-densification (reducing the number of people who are present at one time) or ‘cohorting’, which involves creating separate teams of workers that do not have in-person interactions with those who are not on their team.
Read About Jamun Juice Benefits
Back to basics
Regular hand-washing, which can reduce the spread of all kinds of pathogens, is always a good idea. Masks, too, remain effective. If you’re someone who’s vaccinated and still feeling anxious about going back to work, the best thing is to continue to wear a mask for the first couple of weeks until you feel more comfortable.
Don’t depend on desk shields in offices
Plastic barriers can be great to stop bigger droplets but the smallest, lightest particles can simply float over and around them. These barriers may not provide enough benefit to justify their costs. They may even raise the risk of disease transmission, by encouraging risking behaviour or impeding airflow.