As the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, we are slowly adjusting to the new normal. The complete lockdown has ended and most businesses and services are cautiously reopening. At this point where we’re still assessing our losses and charting a way forward, it is terrifying to think that a second wave of the virus may be in the offing. But it is crucial that you prepare your business for such a scenario.
Medical health experts have long warned that like most pandemics in history, COVID-19, too, may run a second course. There have been reports of second waves in other countries like South Korea and the US. Across the world, localised fresh outbreaks have been dealt with smaller, localised lockdowns instead of a national shutdown.
A potential second wave could occur in Canada during the annual flu season in Fall. While no one can yet predict its severity or pattern, a major difference this time will be that we’ll be ready for it.
How will we know if the second wave has begun?
According to health experts, there is no exact definition for the second wave. Some epidemiologists say that for a second wave to have occurred there needs to be a spike of cases in a region where there have been no new cases and the virus returns “as a new variation of itself”. While others say that may not always be the case. USA being such an example where the first wave seems to have rolled into the second one. It is safe to say that a second wave begins when after a continuous period of few or no new cases, the numbers begin to rise and peak again.
What can I do to prevent a second wave?
Health experts say public behaviour will affect future outbreaks. In the past few months, staying indoors, social distancing, hand hygiene and other safety measures, has helped contain the pandemic.
As workplaces and public spaces reopen, it is important that we continue doing so. You must implement Public Health guidelines about COVID-19 health and safety in the workplace. You should:
- Conduct a risk assessment in your workplace and install safety controls to reduce risk of infection
- Recall staff on a need-to or rotational basis. Employees who can continue to work from home, should be encouraged to do so
- Provide health and safety training to your staff
- Reposition work stations to implement physical distancing
- Provide hand sanitizers and other cleaning supplies in the workplace
- Create a cleaning and disinfection policy for the common areas and visitors lounge in your office
- When you recall staff to work, discuss their commuting plans and provide alternatives such as staggered shifts (to avoid public transit during peak hours) or office shuttles for at-risk employees
- Have a response plan ready in case an employee tests positive for COVID-19 in the workplace
How can I prepare my business for a second wave?
Now is the time for reflection. Look back on the lessons of the past few months. How could you have handled it better? You should:
- Draw a list of the challenges your business faced and the response strategies that worked or did not. For example, coordinating a remote workforce, or taking your business online for the duration of the lockdown
- Monitor federal or provincial government websites for updates on health and safety on a regular basis
- Ensure you have sufficient cleaning and PPE supplies for your staff
- Conduct employee surveys to get feedback on new policies, address concerns and make improvements, if needed
- Inform your staff of the available mental health resources and address reasonable concerns regarding health and safety
- Have a response plan ready in case there is another lockdown and communicate it to your staff. A fresh outbreak may lead to scaling up of restrictions. Be prepared to adapt to it in a timely manner.
Do you need help preparing a COVID-19 Safety Plan for your workplace?
Let us keep track of official health and safety updates for you while you focus on reviving your business. For advice on health and safety policies during the pandemic, call an expert today: 1 (833) 247-3652.