Towards the new normal – preparation instructions for workplaces

Has your workplace already started to plan for post-COVID-19 times? In these instructions, you can find tips for safely lifting the restrictions set in instructions. Restrictions should be lifted on the terms of the progress of the epidemic while keeping a close eye on the local situation. The employer must take the regulations and recommendations of authorities into account and update the instructions issued. It is also important to update the risk assessment, taking into account that the situation with infections may change.

  1. Continue to keep a safe distance. Even though vaccination coverage is increasing, the risk of infection has not disappeared entirely.
  2. Restrict the number of people in in-office work to ensure that employees can keep a safe distance. Remote work should be encouraged in the future, too, if it is possible and if it is considered a good practice in your working community.
  3. It is still a good idea to arrange meetings remotely, as far as possible.
  4. If you have in-person meetings, book a meeting room that is larger than the number of participants would normally require to ensure that participants can keep a safe distance. Also remember to adhere to the restrictions on gatherings currently in force.
  5. The use of face masks is still recommended to protect unvaccinated people. The so-called herd immunity provided by vaccinations is not at a sufficient level yet either.
  6. No one may come to the workplace when ill. Anyone with flu symptoms should go to COVID-19 testing with a low threshold.
  7. If protective structures to prevent droplet transmission, such as plexiglass shields or dividing walls, have been built at the workplace, you should not remove them yet.
  8. In the future, even without COVID-19, it is important to see to good hand hygiene. This may prevent other communicable diseases, such as stomach flu, from spreading in the working community.
    1. Washing hands is recommended when entering the premises, after going to the toilet, before and after meals and after sneezing and coughing.
    2. In shared premises, you should have hand sanitiser available or the possibility to wash your hands.
    3. Cleansing wipes or agents should be available for cleaning the premises and equipment, especially in open-plan offices and when hot desking.
  9. Discuss the rules and procedures of your working community openly. For clarity’s sake, they should also be documented (e.g. practices related to remote work).
  10. Health-related concerns may also suddenly increase at workplaces when the practices used during the exceptional situation start to be changed after a long period of time. It is important to create a plan for returning to the new normal safely and gradually and communicate it to employees, too. Also reserve time for questions and discussions.

The occupational health service is happy to provide advice and guidance on lifting the restrictions set in the instructions applied during these exceptional circumstances. We are also there to help if you need assistance in making the risk assessment. You can also get individual or group support for handling the concerns at the workplace. Please turn to the occupational health nurse assigned to your organisation.

 

See also the FIOH guidelines for workplaces.