Having spent months on end in multiple lockdowns, many workers around the world are now starting to make a gradual return to the office and restoring a sense of day-to-day normalcy back into their lives.
However, while this is an incredibly exciting transition for a lot of people, the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t exactly gone away. Its threat may be a whole lot less catastrophic than it was now thanks to the development of vaccines, but it is still imperative to be vigilant in minimizing its spread.
What’s more, because we’ve been experiencing record-breaking temperatures during the summer, there are a whole host of other health and safety risks to consider as well—from working outside to monitoring the use of air conditioning units. As temperatures continue to increase, the risks associated with the sun and excess heat will, too.
With this in mind, we thought we’d highlight some of the key health and safety risks to watch out for, identifying the most effective methods to use to minimize the likelihood of injury, illness, or disruption.
While you may be sick of hearing the word by now, the spread of coronavirus isn’t something to be taken lightly. After all, having killed thousands upon thousands of people in recent months, just because we have a vaccine available doesn’t mean we should be any less vigilant with personal health and safety.
As such, with the return of workers to the office, you will need to put systems in place capable of minimizing the spread and encouraging staff members to play their part.
Hand sanitizers will need to be readily available, desks will need to be wiped down after each use, one-way systems should be followed, and social distancing should still be considered.
Likewise, common office-based germ hotspots like phones, printers, water coolers, keyboards, and computer mouses will need to be kept as clean as possible, using an anti-viral wipe or spray strong enough to kill the coronavirus.
If you are opening your office’s doors for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, it’s important to make sure that there aren’t any unwanted guests living on your premises.
Whether it be rats, birds, wasps, termites, flies, fleas, or mosquitoes, there are a number of common pests that could cause a whole host of issues when returning to the office—from spreading diseases to breaking company equipment.
Therefore, make sure to check around the office for pests like these before inviting your staff back to the workplace.
During the summer months, workers will likely need air conditioning in order to work at a comfortable temperature. However, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, evidence has emerged showing that—when poorly maintained—air conditioner units could help it and other forms of viruses spread, putting the health of workers at risk in doing so.
As such, your first port of call should be getting your system serviced. That way, you will have the peace of mind that it’s clean and less likely to spread harmful bacteria around the office.
Then, you should monitor its use, ideallyprioritizing ventilation over the use of air conditioning. Overusing it, for example, could increase the risk of an electrical fire occurring or unintentional damage being caused.
On sunnier days, your workers may find themselves wanting to work, or indeed having to work, outside.
And while this may sound fine in principle, in reality, there could be an increased risk of skin-related injuries like sunburn and serious health issues like dehydration which can require medical intervention to repair the damage caused.
As such, to combat these risks, you will need to have plenty of sunscreen, water, and shade available for your staff to use. Likewise, you will need to put a fire escape route and a trained first aider in place in case an emergency situation unfolds.
The return to office life following the pandemic is an incredibly exciting time for a lot of workers. However, as the points above should now prove, staying vigilant at this time, and in the future as heat-associated risks become a larger risk, is equally important.
Only by putting the time and effort in before their return to work will you be able to feel rest assured that your office is a truly safe place to be.
This article originally ran in Facilities Management Advisor, a BLR publication.