COVID-19: Best practices for a safe work environment

How to protect yourself and others at work from COVID-19

As businesses open back up and people begin to go back to work, many states are experiencing in increase in positive cases of COVID-19. While not completely unexpected, one of the areas of concern where COVID-19 can spread easily is workplaces.

When people are in close contact with each other for a prolonged period of time – like at home or a workplace – the opportunity for COVID-19 to spread can increase. Here are seven best practices for a safe work environment.

Wash your hands often

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or at least 20 seconds, especially after you’ve been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

Avoid touching your face

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
  • Your eyes, nose, and mouth are entryways for viruses into your body. If you touch an infected surface and then touch your face you could potentially become infected and get sick.

Wear a face covering

You can spread COVID-19 to others even if you don't feel sick. Remember to cover your mouth and nose with a face covering when you'll be around other people.

  • Everyone should wear a cloth face covering when they go out in public – including when you go to work.
  • The cloth face covering is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
  • Don’t use a face mask meant for a healthcare worker.
  • The cloth face covering is not a substitute for social distancing so remember to continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others.

Cover coughs and sneezes

  • If you’re in a private setting and do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow. 
  • Throw used tissues in the trash. 
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Clean and disinfect at work

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • When bringing a laptop from home, clean and disinfect it before using. If surfaces are dirty, clean them with detergent or soap and water, and then use a household disinfectant.

Practice social distancing during meetings, conversations, and tasks

  • If you attend a meeting in person, be sure to sit six feet apart from other people.
  • If this social distancing isn't possible, or for further protection, wear a mask.
  • If you need to work near or talk to a co-worker, stay six feet apart. If you need to be in closer contact, wear a mask.

Maintain social distance during meals and breaks

  • Before and after eating, be sure to disinfect any common eating areas and wash your hands.
  • When you are eating or drinking you need to take off your mask, so you should stay six feet apart from co-workers.
  • Best practices would be to eat outside if possible or eat your meal away from your co-workers.

It’s everyone’s responsibility to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. You can protect yourself and others by being vigilant about taking the steps that reduce exposure.