Social Distancing in the Workplace: A Refresher for the Many Months Ahead

COVID-19 is proving to be one of the biggest challenges many businesses will ever face, and unfortunately it’s not going away anytime soon.

When vaccines are finally available, they’re going to be distributed on a priority basis, and initial advisory recommendations made to the Centers for Disease Control indicate that the top priority will be healthcare workers, followed by people with underlying medical conditions that put them at high risk from COVID-19 infection.

The next priority would be essential workers at high risk of exposure, teachers, people with underlying conditions that put them at moderate risk, all older adults not yet vaccinated, and people in homeless shelters or in prison, where congregations of people create increased infection risk.

A third phase would include all other essential workers, children, and young adults, with everyone else who hasn’t yet qualified for vaccination coming last.

This means it could may take considerable time before vaccines are finally administered to the entire population of American workers, especially depending on which industries and workers are considered essential.

With a U.S. population of 330 million, there are major concerns about how efficiently various state and local health agencies will be able to distribute, administer and manage such an unprecedented volume of vaccinations and vaccine doses.

This is why it’s important for every business to prepare for a prolonged fight against COVID-19 and continue to take precautions well into 2021, even after vaccines become available.

We’ll need to be social distancing, wearing masks, and taking other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 for many months ahead. So, now is a good time for a refresher on social distancing and some of the other key precautions recommended by the CDC.

Social Distancing Recommendations

Social distancing is one of the core COVID-19 mitigation strategies recommended by the CDC, OSHA, and global medical organizations and experts.

According to the CDC, social distancing means avoiding close contact, which means you should:

  • Put 6 feet of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household
  • Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus
  • Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people
  • Remember that social distancing especially important for people at higher risk of getting very sick

Additional Precautions

Social distancing is just one strategy among many others that the CDC and OSHA recommend that every workplace should implement, encourage and enforce. These include:

  • Frequent and thorough hand washing or sanitizing
  • Wearing cloth face coverings or personal protected equipment (PPE)
  • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Performing routine cleaning and disinfecting in the workplace
  • Encouraging workers to stay home if they’re sick
  • Eliminating the shared use of phones, desks, or offices
  • Using staggered shifts
  • Increasing physical distance between workers
  • Encouraging remote work where possible

If you’re an employer, make sure you’re following these best practices and that you regularly check for updated recommendations from the CDC website and your state and local government or health officials.

Contact Tracing

COVID-19 is a dangerous airborne threat, so even the best of prevention may not prevent exposure and infection. With this in mind, every employer should also implement a contact tracing system and procedures to quickly identify, notify, and manage employees who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has.

Our partners at Zebra technologies have developed an excellent contact tracing solution called MotionWorks Proximity. It uses mobile computers, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth to detect when workers are in close contact for extended periods. It sends alerts to their mobile devices to remind them to maintain social distancing, provides reports to management to analyze close contact incidents, and easily conducts contact tracing if an employee has been exposed to COVID-19 or has tested positive for the coronavirus.

To learn more about contact tracing with MotionWorks Proximity, contact our team at AbeTech to get more details or schedule a demo.

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