Respecting social distance and safety at work: how to prevent and avoid gatherings

February 10, 2021

Maintaining interpersonal distance of at least one meter and properly wearing personal protective equipment-such as face masks-are some of the essential rules to protect ourselves and others from the risk of contracting Covid-19 virus.

These rules, which are fundamental to protecting our health and that of those around us, must be respected in every situation: on the street, on public transportation, inside stores or offices. But how to apply these standards even within work environments, that is, in settings that may gather hundreds of people who spend several consecutive hours inside an enclosed space? And how can we work concretely to prevent gatherings and help employees comply with interpersonal distance regulations at all times? Let’s find out together:

Assemblies and management of common spaces: what the regulations require

The “Regulatory Protocol for Combating and Containing the Spread of the Covid-19 Virus in Workplaces” indicates a series of measures that companies and manufacturing entities are required to put in place to limit the risk of spreading the infection within workplaces. Specifically, the protocol includes:

  • Contingent access to common areas (locker rooms, cafeterias, refreshment areas with beverage and snack dispensers, smoking areas…) to prevent too many employees from being in the same environment at the same time
  • Ventilate common spaces continuously, to facilitate the dispersion of droplets that may be vehicles for virus transmission
  • Encourage employees to spend as little time as possible in common areas so that colleagues have access
  • Supervise the proper use of the face mask, which employees must wear whenever they move from their workstations
  • Recommend that employees move as little as possible within company spaces
  • Limit in-person meetings as much as possible (and, in cases where they cannot be avoided, request the participation of as few people as possible, always respect interpersonal distance between participants, and properly ventilate and clean the rooms used)
  • Stagger, if possible, workers’ entry and exit times to avoid the simultaneous influx of large numbers of people into common spaces
  • Divide work environments so as to distance the locations where employees work, if possible using separation barriers such as furniture or plexiglass panels
  • Reorganize spaces, including using rooms that are not normally used, so that workstations are spaced as far apart as possible.

How to avoid gatherings in situations where risk increases

The guidance provided by health authorities suggests various ways to limit infection, but it is clear that even if the regulations are applied to the letter, some situations remain particularly problematic from a risk perspective. Of these, the most difficult to manage safely are:

  • The time of entry and exit of workers
  • The lunch break
  • Coffe break

The phase of company entry also presents special difficulties because of the regulatory requirement to take the body temperature of all those entering company premises in order to detect any employees with a temperature above 37.5°. The measurement procedure, however quick, constitutes an inevitable “funnel” that causes slowing access and assembly of people in small spaces. An application such as Kalmo Smart Monitoring, which allows employees to take their temperature from the comfort of their own home and independently enter the data within the app, greatly facilitates this procedure and simplifies business organization, since it avoids congregation at the entrance and frees the company from the need to delegate one employee to take the temperature of all colleagues.

Technology can also be a great help in managing assemblies during breaks from work, whether long or short. The use of cameras that capture particularly problematic spaces-such as the area where the snack or beverage vending machine is located, for example-allows for the assessment of whether the environment is overcrowded and the implementation of measures that facilitate enforcement. For example, a simple audible alarm that warns of excessive room crowding or failure to observe interpersonal distance can be a great ally in reminding all employees to observe spacing rules even during break times. Facial recognition software that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence, then, can be a valuable aid in verifying the proper use of PPE by employees.

Information and awareness: our best allies in fighting the Covid-19 virus

Finally, it should not be forgotten that combating the spread of the virus is only possible if all citizens and workers behave responsibly, following the directions coming from health authorities and abiding by the rules at all times of their lives, working and otherwise.

Therefore, it is essential to actively attend to the education of employees, making them aware of the reasons why certain measures have been taken and urging them to behave prudently both inside and outside the company, especially at particularly problematic times such as entering and leaving work.

To monitor employee health even better and detect any outbreaks of infection early, then, the company may choose to equip itself with rapid nasal swabs with which to conduct periodic screening of employees. These tools-which are not self-diagnostic and therefore must always be carried out by licensed medical or nursing personnel-can be a valuable tool to protect the health of workers and, added to compliance with safe distances and careful use of PPE, can help to concretely limit the spread of the virus by going out and detecting the presence of any employees who have contracted the virus but are asymptomatic and therefore may be unknowingly spreading the infection among colleagues.

Do you want to discover how to best protect your employees’ health and what are the necessary measures to enhance your company’s safety? Download our checklist and contact us!