Here’s a quick guide to rearranging your office, store, or other workplace for a safe reopening.
A major part of your COVID-19 Safety Plan should be how to create a safe space for your customers and workers.
Know How COVID-19 Spreads
COVID-19 is transmitted via liquid droplets when someone coughs or sneezes. If you are near that person, the virus can enter your body through your eyes, nose, or throat. It can also be spread by touch—between people or between people and contaminated surfaces.
Droplets are thought to only be able to travel one to two metres before they fall to the ground. That’s where physical distancing comes in to make it harder for the virus to spread from person to person. Physical distancing is still the best way to reduce transmission of COVID-19, and it could be in place for months to come. Your customers, employees, and visitors need to be able to stay at least two meters apart—think hockey stick or pool noodle—at all times in your workplace.
Assess the Risks
The first step in planning for a safe reopening is to identify riskiest parts of your operations and workplace. WorkSafeBC has produced a guide to returning to safe operation, including a six-step process for developing a COVID-19 Safety Plan. To assess your workplace risk, consider the following in the context of how COVID-19 spreads:
- Where do employees and customers gather in groups? Examples include waiting rooms and other seating areas.
- What tasks or processes bring employees close to each other, or to customers, such as checkout areas?
- How does the traffic flow of people around your workplace contribute to bringing them close to each other, such as shopping aisles?
Rearrange Your Space
Start by reading the WorkSafeBC guidelines for your industry, as well as any guidelines from your industry association. Every workplace is different, but here are some general best practices from WorkSafeBC for various types of business:
- Set occupancy limits
- Rearrange reception or waiting areas, including removing seating and installing plexiglass barriers
- Remove communal objects such as water coolers and magazines
- Provide hand sanitizer stations
- Manage the flow of traffic, including designated entrances and exits and one-way staircases and walkways
- Prop doors open to reduce person-to-surface contact
- Limit the number of employees allowed in communal areas at any one time
- Install signage at appropriate places, including directional signage on floors, physical distancing floor stickers, posters stating occupancy limits and other important information, and checkout signage with any necessary instructions
Here are some other WorkSafeBC resources for rearranging your workplace:
- Help prevent the spread of COVID-19: Occupancy limit
- COVID-19 health and safety: Designing effective barriers
- COVID-19: A guide to reducing the risk
Although we’re getting a little closer together, we still have to stay a bit apart. Rearranging your workplace before reopening is a vital part of both reassuring customers and employees—and keeping them safe.
Back to Business
Small Business BC is committed to helping business owners reopen in a safe and successful manner. Our Back to Business campaign features specific advice and guidance in the following areas:
Visit our Back to Business resource page