Review these safety tips as reopening guidance for your tribal business
The coronavirus has changed just about every aspect of our marketplace, from how we serve customers, how we clean and sanitize the premises, to how we communicate.
No doubt you’re eager to return to normalcy. However, reopening requires careful thought and consideration, not only to protect your employees but also your business. That’s why we’re providing this blogpost as reopening guidance for your tribal business.
Use this two-part blogpost as a tool in your response-to-recovery process. Today we’re focusing on if and how to bring employees back, as well as health and safety considerations. Next time, we’ll cover specifics on preparing your workplace and new policies/procedures to consider. We’ve compiled these checklists, tips, safety suggestions and more from 20+ experts. While we are not experts in this arena, we are passing along the curated information for your consideration.
First, please understand that medical teams are still learning about COVID-19, so the path to recovery will remain fluid. Continue to follow any tribal, local, state or national guidance as it relates to safety, guidelines and recommendations. The information included here is to help guide you, but it does not replace any guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), United States Department of Labor, OSHA or local and state laws or guidance.
Use this reopening guidance for your business as you prepare to open your doors
Bringing employees back, or allow them to remain remote
Moving forward, some tribal businesses are likely to allow more employees to work from home, depending on their industry and services. Studies show that telecommuting nationwide will continue long after the fallout from COVID-19 has subsided.
If your business occupies office space with centralized areas, you may want to rethink your office design to keep people working together while physically apart. Consider eliminating open floorplans and shared workspaces in favor of closed off cubicles. Consider these issues as you return employees to work:
Timeline for bringing employees back
- Decide who needs to be on-site or rehired for business to function normally.
- Devise a plan beyond onsite essential functions for gradual headcount returns where possible.
- Communicate which positions are returning first (and why) and a timeline for others returning or being rehired.
- Consult your legal and insurance advisors for assistance and options to guide your decision in whether to return employees to work following an injury or illness.
- Avoid discrimination if not all employees are returning to work.
Reopening guidance for your business: health & safety considerations
As you reopen, and for the foreseeable future, will you evaluate and monitor employee health as it relates to COVID-19? Consult your attorney on intended onsite screening practices or protocol to ensure known liabilities are weighed. Considerations include:
- Conducting temperature or employee wellness checks at the start of shifts/each business day to ensure employees do not exhibit Covid-19 symptoms (fever >100.4o F, cough, shortness of breath/ difficulty breathing). OSHA recommends that any worker exhibiting symptoms should be isolated until (s)he can leave work or seek medical care.
- Asking employees about their health status before they return to the workplace or from a sick leave (even if they were out with a headache). Will you require certification by a health care professional of ability to safely return to the workplace?
- Will you require employees to self-report and/or will you be retaining a third party to facilitate any onsite screening efforts? Business risks and liabilities must be considered to this regard.
How will you assess physical limitations and provide reasonable accommodation? What will your process be for limited duty or transitional assignments to safely bring back employees with slight impairments? Here are other considerations to keep employees healthy:
- Consider staggering break periods and rearrange seating in break areas to maintain physical distance.
- Update travel policies to adhere to state quarantine guidelines.
- Update any meeting policies as needed, using teleconferencing where possible.
- Review benefits policies for rehire/reinstatement provisions and equally assess eligibility and waiting periods.
- Revise remote work / childcare policies and accommodations as needed.
- Review/ revise leave and sick policies:
- Determine whether the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) applies to your organization, your existing policies and practices.
- Incorporate guidance for employees experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or are diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Consider whether there is a need for temporarily implementing PTO/vacation rollovers, grace periods and changes to expiring PTO terms.
Manage the return-to-work and communications
You may want to create an implementation team or appoint an individual to oversee your return-to-work program, procedures, guidelines and accountabilities. Consider including a senior executive, HR leader, safety officer, risk manager, information technology, operations, real estate and facilities, communications, finance, legal and benefits managers. Of course, this group will vary based on the complexity and size of your organization. You’ll also want to consider:
- Appointing a contact person to oversee communications of ongoing safety and security measures and to answer employee questions. This person should be part of your implementation team.
- Communicating what changes will be made in common areas, including food, beverages, utensils, glassware, etc.
- Adding or revisiting a clean desk policy so unnecessary items are stored in the desk and not on work surfaces, to enable new or ongoing deep clean efforts.
How to safely allow customers and vendors on your premises
- If your business has visitors coming in, OSHA recommends using tape to mark areas on the floor where lines should form. Also use tape to mark six-foot distances.
- Revise guest and visitor policies, including limiting access to certain parts of the buildings, separate entrances and specific meeting rooms or restroom access.
- Offer curbside delivery or drive-through service instead of in-store pick-up. If using curbside delivery, ask customers to stay in their vehicles in the parking lot while they wait.
- Provide on-site services to customer’s facility once their business is closed (after hours).
- Add plastic barriers/shields at registers.
- Add six-foot distance markers at registers or commonly congested areas.
- Request health and travel assessments for vendors and contractors coming on-site.
- Separate contractors and vendors from the workforce, such as having them use separate bathrooms and entrances, if possible.
- Prohibit nonessential vendors and deliveries from entering the facility.
- Require deliveries to be dropped outside facility door, eliminating vendors from entering the facility.
Much of the above information was provided by Brown & Brown’s Return to the Workplace Guide & Checklist. Additional resources include
This blogpost originally appeared in Arrowhead’s blogpost. It has been modified to better fit the needs of our Tribal producers and their clients.