Despite businesses resuming normal operations, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is still going on. Public health officials and experts are warning of a potential second wave of COVID-19 cases. Of course, no one knows if or when a second wave of infection will strike—or whether it will be as bad as or worse than the first wave. We are even starting to see a second rise in cases in some of the US and other countries. As such, businesses across the country should start planning today so they’re properly prepared for a second wave of COVID-19 cases.
Review Your Organizational Risks
Similar to conducting a risk assessment for planning to reopen following the first wave of COVID-19 cases, your organization should conduct a risk assessment in preparation for a reemergence of COVID-19 cases. While the complexity will differ from business to business, they typically involve the following steps:
Identifying the hazards It’s a good idea to perform a walkthrough of the premises and consider high-risk areas. It’s also important to consider what tasks employees are performing and whether or not they are especially exposed to COVID-19 risks when performing their duties.
Deciding who may be harmed by a second wave of cases and how Determine what populations of your workforce are exposed to COVID-19 risks. When performing this evaluation, you will need to make note of high-risk individuals (e.g., staff members who have a preexisting condition or meet with customers or individuals who have one).
Assessing risks When analyzing your risks, consider potential financial losses, compliance requirements, employee safety, business disruptions, reputational harm and other consequences.
Controlling risks With a sense of what the threats to your business are, you can then consider ways to address them. There are a variety of methods businesses can use to manage their risks.
Monitoring the results Risk management is an evolving, continuous process. Once you’ve implemented a risk management solution, you’ll want to monitor its effectiveness and reassess.
Maintain Workplace Safety
Maintaining workplace safety is crucial to preventing the spread of COVID-19 at your organization, and will continue to be crucial in protecting your organization against a second wave of cases. There are a number of OSHA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) workplace controls to consider if your risk assessment determines that COVID-19 poses a threat to your employees or customers. For instance, you should:
Implement administrative controls
Utilize Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Screen employees before they enter the building
Encourage social distancing
Encourage employees to stay home if possible
Separate sick employees
Perform routine environmental cleaning and disinfection
Be sure to consider the needs of your business and implement strategies that are specific to controlling and promoting workplace safety at your organization.
Prepare Now to Stay Safe Later
Similar to the first wave of COVID-19 cases, governmental guidance will play a large role in how your organization should respond to a second wave of COVID-19 cases. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted states and regions in different ways. A second wave of cases may follow the same suit, affecting different regions at different times and in varying capacities.
This means that businesses in one region may be able to remain open, while businesses in other regions may need to close or adjust for a second time. As such, it’s critical to understand and continually review all relevant state and local orders to determine if your business needs to take action in the face of a second wave of COVID-19 cases.
Due to the constant changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic rules and regulations, you should be prepared to change your business practices if needed to maintain critical operations.