26 February 2021
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Your law firm without COVID. Find out how to prevent the spread of the virus in your office

Numerous international governments have published COVID-19 prevention measures for employers and employees to consider for the return to face-to-face office work, as many firms still maintain the teleworking regime, but many others are reopening their offices. 

The following are the most common internationally mandated measures for any firm to implement:

- Assign a co-ordinator at the workplace who is responsible for COVID safety and security measures. This person should have influence over the workforce.

- Assessment of workers' exposures to the virus at work. This assessment will be more elaborate if workers provide information.

- Establish measures to prevent the spread of COVID within the office:

o Ensure the provision of hygienic material and masks.

o Ensure appropriate physical distancing between workers in all office spaces. Or install barriers where it is impossible to create a physical distance.

o Improve ventilation facilities or open windows.

o Carry out regular cleaning and disinfection of all office spaces, as well as work devices (computers, keyboards). 

o Disable the area where a newly infected worker has been.

- Establish a detailed step-by-step protocol explaining what to do when a worker shows symptoms, is unwell or has been in direct contact with an infected person.

- Train workers on procedures to be carried out within the office to prevent the spread of COVID as much as possible. It is also important to train on sanitary issues (e.g. how COVID is spread).

- Ensure workers have the necessary tools to be able to work from home (cloud applications, computers).

- Create internal (two-way) communication systems so that workers can report directly if they are ill or have been exposed, so that employers can inform the whole workforce.

- Develop a document where the supervisor can update the situation of each worker and the availability of COVID prevention materials.

- Make it compulsory for all workers (vaccinated or unvaccinated) to wear a mask in the office.

Measures at break and lunch areas

At break and meal times, workers often remove their masks. Therefore, it is not recommended that workers should: 

- Stand too close together.

- Several workers at the same time.

- In close quarters.

- Stay together for long periods of time.

A good advice for companies would be to rearrange break and eating places in such a way that workers can maintain an appropriate safety distance, or to set up rest areas. It is also advisable that these places are permanently ventilated or with the window open. 

Companies usually place information signs at various points in the office. Here are the information signs recommended by the province of Ontario (Canada) for use in break and eating areas.

Copyright © The Impact Lawyers. All rights reserved. This information or any part of it may not be copied or disseminated in any way or by any means or downloaded or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of The Impact Lawyers. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of The Impact Lawyers.
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