As Texas cities begin to lift restrictions under Governor Abbott’s Texans Helping Texans plan, San Antonio businesses are presented with the challenge of keeping employees and customers safe when they reopen. With no clear guidance from OSHA, business owners are scrambling to make a plan that keeps their employees and customers safe, but still allows for their business to function.
While there is no clear path or “right answer,” for reopening, there are steps that business owners can take to show their employees and customers that they are taking their safety seriously. Here are 5 tips on reopening your business safely as San Antonio begins to lift COVID-19 restrictions.
- 1. Be Ready to Work with Employees Who Do Not Feel Safe Returning to Work
- 2. Consider Removing Soft Surfaces from Your Place of Business
- 3. Put a Plan In Place for Safety Equipment
- 4. Understand That Safety Should Be a Long-Term Goal
- 5. Regularly Sanitize Your Place of Business
- Professional Sanitizing with Alpha Decon
1. Be Ready to Work with Employees Who Do Not Feel Safe Returning to Work
When reopening your business post-shutdown, it’s important to realize that not all of your employees are going to feel safe returning to work right away. Whether your employees are worried about their health, or they have other concerns, as a business owner, you will have to be prepared to work with employees who are not ready to come back to work immediately after reopening.
In cases like this, it may be most helpful to give your employees the option to work from home, wherever you can. You may also want to consider simply reaching out to those employees who are hesitant about returning. You can discuss with them all of the safety measures you are putting in place, remind them of the benefits they receive from being an employee, and let them know that you are there for them.
For additional information related to employees and coronavirus, please see our article “Keeping Your Employees Safe from Coronavirus.”
2. Consider Removing Soft Surfaces from Your Place of Business
Soft (or porous) surfaces, such as upholstered seating and tablecloths, can present a risk for customers, as they are much harder to disinfect than hard surfaces.
Typically, fabric and other soft surfaces must be laundered in order to be cleaned, as the EPA does not certify efficacy for any disinfectant on soft surfaces. This does not mean that soft surfaces can’t be cleaned with a disinfectant, but it is typically not as effective as laundering, and it will often bleach out color from the surface.
The best course of action is for businesses is to remove soft surfaces from public areas, wherever possible. This includes upholstered chairs, booths, and any other high touch soft surfaces.
While tablecloths are considered a soft surface, they can be used with caution. To ensure that you are using tablecloths safely, keep your freshly laundered tablecloths together in one area. Do not put a tablecloth down on a table until you are sure a guest is going to use that table. Once it is confirmed that a guest will be using that table, bring a freshly laundered tablecloth and cover the table. Make sure you take the tablecloth away immediately after the guest has left, and place the used tablecloth with other used tablecloths that are to be laundered.
3. Put a Plan In Place for Safety Equipment
Many cities in Texas, like San Antonio, have enacted ordinances that require face coverings for employees and customers of essential or reopened businesses. However, there are contradicting sources on the efficacy of masks, and Governor Abbott’s plan has eased restrictions, stating that masks should be seen as a recommendation rather than a requirement. With contradicting information coming from multiple sources, it can be hard for business owners to know whether they should be requiring and/or supplying masks for their employees.
If you do decide to require your employees to wear masks, you need to have a plan in place. You will need to consider whether that means you will supply the masks, and, if so, how you will secure the amount of masks you need. You also need to set up a training session for employees so that they know how to properly use their masks as well. This may mean you will have to bring in an outside professional who is knowledgeable about safety equipment, so keep your budget in mind when creating your plan.
If you are planning on supplying other safety equipment in addition to masks, such as gloves or plastic or glass separators, you will need to consider training and budget for those as well.
4. Understand That Safety Should Be a Long-Term Goal
Even as businesses start to reopen and we all try to get back to a sense of normalcy in our everyday lives, it’s important to realize that employee safety shouldn’t be a short-term focus. Because COVID-19 is a novel Coronavirus, there is still a lot we don’t know about it, and we cannot assume that life will be back to “business as usual” within a few months.
Whether you’ve already reopened or are choosing to remain closed a while longer, you should be prepared to continue cleaning extensively, providing employees with security equipment, keeping up with contactless payment and delivery options, and respecting social distancing. While this may require a look at your current operations and budget, adopting these changes into your procedures can really help keep your employees and customers safe.
5. Regularly Sanitize Your Place of Business
One of the key components of keeping your employees and customers safe in your place of business is regular sanitization. Even if your place of business requires masks and/or gloves, there may still be the risk of contact transmission, as not everyone will follow mask recommendations in other businesses, or use their safety equipment properly.
Consider hiring a professional sanitizing team to disinfect your place of business. Professionals will have access to highly effective chemicals and full-coverage systems that are food-safe, can get into hard to reach places, and continue to work after they have dried. This is especially important for hard surfaces like tables, shelves, door handles, hand railings, and shopping baskets, as COVID-19 has been shown to stay on hard, non-porous surfaces for up to 72 hours.
Read “How to Choose a Professional Disinfection Company” for additional information on what questions to ask and what to consider when selecting a sanitizing company in San Antonio.
Professional Sanitizing with Alpha Decon
Alpha Decon professional sanitizing services can provide a level of cleaning that traditional janitorial services cannot. Our unique electrostatic mist spray system can cover large spaces, and get into nooks and crannies that are not easily cleaned. We can even disinfect electronics, such as pin pads, that other sanitizing professionals cannot.
Provide your employees and customers with the safest environment possible by booking a one-time, daily, or weekly appointment with Alpha Decon.