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Tips for safe reopening include masks, contingency plans

Courtesy of WESST

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — An online workshop helps businesses learn about plans and best practices to return safely to work in a COVID-19 world.

“The webinar’s intention was to introduce the latest best practices, tips and techniques to return to work safely for employees and customers,” said Rio Rancho Regional Manager Brad Crowson from WESST.

The organization has been offering these workshops since late May.

“I feel that it’s critical that small-business owners and their employees have the latest information in order to make the best decisions for their own safety and that of their customers,” he said.

The workshops are updated based on information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the New Mexico Department of Health and the governor’s office, Crowson said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of daily life, including travel, commerce, tourism, food supply and financial markets,” he said.

Companies learn how to navigate through these changes.

The workshop begins by educating businesses to be aware of COVID-19 symptoms.

Symptoms typically include:

• Fever,

• Cough, and

• Shortness of breath.

Symptoms may appear between two days to 14 days after exposure to the virus, according to the PowerPoint.

COVID-19 spreads by:

• People being in close contact;

• The transferring of respiratory droplets produced when someone coughs or sneezes;

• Touching a surface or object that has the virus and then touching eyes, nose or mouth; and

• Spreading through asymptomatic transmission.

COVID-19 impacts workplaces, causing employees to be absent, changes in patterns of commerce, and interrupting supplies and deliveries, according to the PowerPoint.

To reduce risk, WESST suggests developing an infectious-disease preparedness and response plan.

This plan includes companies staying up to date with recommendations from federal and local health agencies. It assesses the level of risk associated with each employee and worksite, according to the PowerPoint.

Also, this plan “establishes controls necessary to address these risks,” stated the PowerPoint.

A pyramid to assess risk is used in the workshop. The top of the pyramid is very high risk and the bottom is lower risk.

The lowest level assesses jobs that do not require contact with people within 6 feet and minimal contact with the public and co-workers. The highest level on the pyramid includes health-care workers, mortuary workers and other workers who would be at high risk of coming into contact with COVID-19.

The pyramid includes guidelines each worker or worksite should take. COVID-safe practices include:

• Remote work when possible;

• Maintain social distancing in workplaces;

• Close or limit common areas;

• Supply appropriate face coverings to employees;

• Train employees on daily cleaning, respiratory etiquette, disinfecting protocol and hygiene;

• Perform daily screenings of employees before they enter the workplace;

• Send home employees who are experiencing symptoms and connect then to receive free testing through the DOH by visiting https://cv.nmhealth.org/; and

• Minimize non-essential travel.

For those who travel out of state, a 14-day quarantine remains in place, according to the New Mexico public-health office.

The workshop contains more specific information on how to keep customers and employees safe in retail, call centers, restaurants, breweries and bars.

The workshop also goes over how businesses can legally protect themselves.

According to the PowerPoint, after businesses adhere to guidelines, they should institute a waiver for employees and customers.

Creating procedures and following guidelines will help protect businesses, as will documenting any incidents.

“The best defense to any complaint or cause of action against your business is that you are able to demonstrate that you did everything you were supposed to do,” stated the PowerPoint.

WESST is offering two more workshops on Tuesday and Friday.

To register, visit wesst.org.



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