How You Can Use the “Swiss Cheese Model” to Keep Your Employees Safe When Returning to the Office

How You Can Use the "Swiss Cheese Model" to Keep Your Employees Safe When Returning to the Office

2020 has been a memorable year for businesses in Connecticut and around the world. The pandemic has changed the way that many companies think about how they operate and what their technology solutions need to look like.

Cloud solutions for things like phone systems and video conferencing have become a necessity and businesses are incorporating new hybrid workforces with employees working both from the office and from home.

64% of workers would like to spend at least some time at the office with co-workers rather than being remote 100% of the time.

Autumn is under way and school is back in session (both physically and virtually) so many employees are headed back to the office for the first time in months. 

It can be heartening to see your office come to life again with your team but it also takes a careful safety strategy to ensure that employees and any customers that may visit feel safe and protected.

What is the “Swiss Cheese” Risk Mitigation Strategy?

There is a model that has been used since the early 1990’s in the healthcare industry along with others. It is designed as a set of layers that provide a cumulative benefit for mitigating risk.

This “Swiss Cheese” model was named as a way to demonstrate how several strategies deployed together do things like reduce a patient’s risk of infection or create an environment that results in fewer airline safety incidents.

How does this relate to making your business safe for your returning employees?

Think of each COVID safety strategy as one slice of Swiss cheese. Each one will have “holes” (i.e. vulnerabilities) when used alone. However, when they are stacked together your entire strategy will have fewer vulnerabilities or areas of potential coronavirus spread.

Cleveland Clinic “Return to Work Amid COVID-19” Guide.

Layers to Put in Place to Make Your Workplace “COVID Safe”

A layered strategy to make your workplace safe for employees is similar to one used for cybersecurity to prevent malware infections and data breaches.

Many of the practices below may seem like common sense and have been touted by experts for months now. However, the biggest take away is to use several of them together rather than just one or two so that you can strengthen your COVID safety and reduce the risk of spread.

Here are several layers you should use to keep your workplace free of coronavirus:

Distance Work Areas & Use Distancing Markers 

One of the challenges for businesses with smaller office or retail spaces is trying to distance everyone between 6-8 feet apart.

This could be where a hybrid strategy comes in handy. This means employees will rotate which days they work at the office and which days they work from home so that fewer workstations are required.

You want to put up distancing markers around the office to remind everyone of a 6 to 8 foot minimum.

Use Plexiglass Counter and Desk Shields

Plexiglass shields have been showing up in grocery stores and other retailers as a way to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. They can also be very helpful at your business.

Use them around employee desks, the front reception desk and anywhere else people may be positioned for more than a few minutes.

These have the dual effect of both helping prevent the airborne spread of COVID-19 and making those on the other side of the plexiglass shield feel more secure.

Mandate Use of Masks

Wearing face masks has been found to be a very helpful layer in any COVID risk mitigation strategy. Mandating mask wearing at your building can help make everyone feel safer.

If you have some employees resisting, you could mandate it when employees are walking through the building or are not distanced by 6-8 feet as a compromise.

Provide Sanitizing & Handwashing Stations

You can encourage frequent handwashing which is another important safety measure for mitigating the spread of the virus. Make sanitizing and hand washing stations convenient for employees to use throughout the day.

Sanitize All Surfaces on a Schedule

The additional sanitizing can be a burden to some small businesses but it is a necessary step to ensure everyone is safe from potential contraction of the coronavirus.

You can work with a cleaning service that comes in nightly or in the early morning hours to sanitize or enlist the help of your employees to keep all surfaces disinfected on a regular schedule.

Here are some tips from the CDC on cleaning and disinfecting your facility. 

Use the Outdoors (or Bring Them In) When Possible

Once that fall chill hits the air here in Connecticut conducting meetings outside is is going to be a challenge for most businesses.

However, anything you can do to conduct certain activities (like team meetings) outside or simply opening windows to bring in fresh air can also be a helpful risk mitigation layer in your Swiss cheese strategy.

Get a Pro to Help You Distance Your Workstations & IT

Trying to move your technology around yourself for distancing measures could leave you with connection issues or safety hazards. Call on Sound Computers to help move your workstations and other IT equipment safely. 

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Call 860-577-8060 or reach us online.

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