Well people have gone back to their work places months ago now. 'Work from home' that was the blanket norm across the country during and immediately after lockdowns is not being followed today by a majority of offices in the public and also private sector.
However are safety concerns being adequately addressed in all offices? "When our office had reopened in October there was no provision of securing us with N95 masks or personal protective equipment (PPE)," shares an employee working with a private bank in Guwahati on condition of anonymity.
"We had no training or new protocols in place. No one apprised us about how we should effectively insulate ourselves against the virus while working with patients. Infact no one even informed about basic things like the duration in which the virus can linger in the air," says a junior healthcare worker (intern) working in a private hospital in Guwahati.
People working in offices, factories, restaurants or department stores are all bound to have safety concerns.
So what steps should employers take to keep everyone safe? We at Fit Northeast quizzed some experts on this question. "Employers should have a written plan. It should outline how they are protecting /will protect workers from getting infected with the virus," says Purnima Kaushik, a virologist from Hyderabad."This needs to have inputs from workers and be a living document that can be constantly updated," she adds.
People working in offices, factories, restaurants or department stores are bound to have safety concerns and be apprehensive about contracting the virus for some more timeThe most important safeguard is physical distancing. "The general rule of thumb should be : the maximum possible space and distance between employees and certainly between customers and employees," observes Kaushik.
"Some offices are mandating and maintaining physical barriers between work stations," Kaushik informs. Experts on the whole say that employers should still opt to bring workers back into a facility or office in phases, by allowing those who can work from home to do so. This helps to reduce the density and improve air circulation.
"The employer should talk with whoever does their heating and air conditioning to see if there's a way to increase airflow," Kaushik shares and adds, "They should be using the best quality air filters and make sure those filters are changed on a regular basis."
Needless to say regular disinfecting is vital in workplace environments.Additionally, experts say there should be easily accessible handwashing stations throughout the workplace. Workers who are mobile should also have bottles of hand sanitizer to take with them.
"By taking safety measures seriously, employers reduce potential losses to their business. Employers need to remember that if their workers get ill, even if it's not life threatening, it still cripples their ability to keep their business open," Kaushik states.