How to Keep Safe When Returning to the Office After COVID-19 Restrictions Are Loosened

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic brought with it great fear of being near other people or even going out to public places. It turned a lot of people into germaphobes, making them afraid to touch items a potentially infected person might have touched. The media coverage on the pandemic spread like wildfire all around the world and with it fear of the unknown. Employees were told to work from home, if they could, as a “stay home, stay safe” or “stay home, save lives” mandate spread across the country. There is so much about this virus that health officials still don’t understand making it completely understandable to have apprehensions about potentially going back to work. (Image source)

Going back to work is something most employees have little control over. As COVID-19 restrictions are loosening, many people are being told it is time to return to work. A few ways to stay safe when returning to work are to educate yourself on how the virus spreads, improve sanitation and ventilation of your workspace, wear a face mask, wash your hands frequently, keep your distance from people at all times, and avoid social events like the after-work happy hour.

How COVID-19 Spreads

Understanding how the virus spreads will give you an idea of how to protect yourself from contracting it once you are told it is time to return to work. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus spreads predominately through respiratory droplets from person to person contact, when a person who is infected coughs, sneezes, or talks. The spread of the virus is most likely to occur when people are in close contact with one another such as within about 6 feet. You can also contract the virus from touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching your nose, eyes, or mouth.

There is currently no vaccine available to protect you against the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, the best way to protect yourself is to avoid being exposed to the virus, wear protective covering if you are going to be exposed, and practice good hygiene habits.

Wash Your Hands Frequently

It turns out that hands are playing a crucial role in the spread of COVID-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) said you can contact the virus just by touching an infected person or contaminated object or surface. The WHO also mentioned that there is evidence from both SARS and COVID-19 epidemics that show hand hygiene is very important to protect people from getting infected.

The CDC also mentions the importance of properly washing your hands frequently. The correct way to wash your hands is with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable to you, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that has at least 60 percent alcohol in it. However, there is no evidence to prove that an alcohol-based hand sanitizer works against the virus, so try to use soap and water whenever possible.

Keeping your hands clean will remove the virus from them in the event you touch a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touch your face, eyes, or mouth. This is a protective measure to help keep you safe while at work. You should wash your hands before and after eating as well as after going to the bathroom. Other times you should wash your hands are before and after work shifts, before and after work breaks, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, after putting on, touching, or removing cloth face coverings.

Improve Sanitization

The CDC also recommends that employees practice routine cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces such as workstations, telephones, keyboards, handrails, and doorknobs. EPA-registered, household disinfectants are recommended by the CDC as most effective in killing the virus on commonly touched surfaces and objects. Disposable disinfecting wipes are a quick and easy way to wipe down surfaces before each use. Through disinfecting your work area you will ensure that you are taking the proper precautions necessary to avoid exposing yourself to the virus.

Improve Ventilation

Another way to prevent your exposure to the virus is to make sure you are working in a well-ventilated area. The CDC recommends increasing the ventilation rates of work areas. One way you can do this at work is to open windows and doors. This will allow fresh air from the outdoors to come in and circulate.

Investing in an air purifier for work is a great way to help you stay healthy and prevent you from contracting the virus. A high-quality air purifier can help prevent some airborne disease because they work by removing viruses, dust, and bacteria from the air. The Scietech Airon Air-Purifier is the world’s cheapest air purifier that can eliminate respiratory droplets from the air. This air purifier produces negative ions that control airborne disease spread through viruses or bacteria. The company claims to even neutralize COVID-19 from the air.

Wear a Face Mask

Face coverings are one essential protective item that is non-negotiable in a lot of states. The CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering as a measure to contain a person who wears the face masks’ respiratory droplets and helps protect their co-workers. These face coverings are recommended in public settings where it is difficult to practice social distancing.

Social Distancing

You have heard it on the news and seen it plastered all over organizations to maintain a 6 feet distance at all times. Besides wearing a mask, social distancing is the new normal, and for a good reason. The virus most easily spreads when people are within a 6 feet range of each other. Therefore, even when you are working, you should do your best to stay 6 feet away from your co-workers. One way to do this is to plan meetings over the phone, where you do not need to be in a confined space with a lot of people. Also, ensure that while you are at your desk or office area you are 6 feet away from your co-workers. All these measures will help keep you safe while you return to work.

Avoid Social Events

Many people tend to go to happy hour after work as a way to unwind from a stressful day and socialize with their co-workers. However, attempting to do so during the pandemic can be a double-edged sword. Not only are you exposing yourself to the pandemic just by being around other people, but alcohol lowers your immune system making you even more susceptible to catching the deadly virus.

The WHO mentioned that you should avoid alcohol altogether to keep your immune system strong. Also, alcohol use should be avoided as a social cue for smoking or vice versa. Smoking is associated with the more complicated and dangerous progression of COVID-19. To slow the spread of the virus it is also recommended that bars, casinos, night clubs, restaurants, and other places where people gather to drink alcohol should be avoided because it increases a person’s risk of transmitting or contracting the virus.

If you or someone you love is suffering from alcohol addiction, finding high-quality alcohol addiction treatment centers can help. People who have an alcohol use disorder are at the greatest risk of contracting COVID-19 because of the impact it has on their health. Therefore, it is critical that under current conditions people suffering from an alcohol addiction get the help they need.

The virus ultimately spreads from breathing in respiratory droplets of an infected person or touching an object that has been infected. Therefore, you can stay safe in the workplace by cleaning your work areas frequently, keeping windows open and investing in an air purifier, wearing a face mask, wash your hands often, staying at least 6 feet away from people at all times, and avoiding social events like the after-work happy hour. Even though it might not seem like it with businesses opening back up, the virus is still present and spreading. Following these suggestions will help you avoid getting the dreaded COVID-19 and keep you healthy at work.

Written by Stephanie Moloney

References

Alcohol and COVID-19: What you need to know. World Health Organization.
Indian Startup Developed the World’s Cheapest Air-Purifier To Fight Against Coronavirus. FutureEnTech.
Inpatient Alcohol Rehab Options. Sunshine Behavioral Health.
Interim guidance for business employers responding to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), May 2020. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Frequently Asked Questions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What you should know about Covid-19 to protect yourself and others. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
WHO saves lives: Clean your hands in the context of covid:19. World Health Organization.

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