Guidance to Mitigate Losses During a Pandemic Event

business man planning to mitigate losses during a pandemic

At BKS-Partners, we are working diligently to provide you and your business with the tools and information necessary to help prevent and mitigate losses during the current COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, we have created the following guide that gives you the critical information you need now to manage the risks that this pandemic has created. This information is also helpful in preparing an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan.

Risk Mitigation Strategies for Your Business

Prepare to Implement Basic Infection Prevention Measures

  • Hand washing.
  • Encourage or mandate workers to stay home if they are sick.
  • Encourage respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.
  • Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and
    equipment, when possible.

Develop Policies and Procedures for Prompt Identification and Isolation of Sick People

  • Prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals is a critical step in protecting workers.
  • Employers should inform and encourage employees to self-monitor for signs and symptoms.
  • Employers should develop policies and procedures for employees to report when they are sick or experiencing symptoms.

Develop, Implement, and Communicate About Workplace Flexibilities and Protections

  • Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of these policies.
  • Be aware of workers’ concerns about pay, leave, safety, health, and other issues that may arise during infectious disease outbreaks.
  • Work with insurance companies (e.g., those providing employee health benefits) and state and local health agencies to provide information to workers and customers about medical care in the event of an infectious disease outbreak.

Implement Workplace Controls

  • Installing high-efficiency air filters.
  • Increasing ventilation rates in the work environment.
  • Installing physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards.
  • Installing a drive-through window for customer service.
  • Specialized negative pressure ventilation in some settings, such as for aerosol-generating procedures.
  • Minimizing contact among workers, clients, and customers by replacing face-to-face meetings with virtual communications and implementing telework if feasible.
  • Establishing alternating days or extra shifts that reduce the total number of employees in a facility at a given time.
  • Discontinuing nonessential travel.
  • Developing emergency communications plans.

Protocol for Cleaning and Disinfection After Persons Suspected or Confirmed to be Infected Have Been in Your Facility

At a school, daycare center, office, or other facilities that do not house people overnight

  • It is recommended to close off areas used by the ill persons and wait before beginning cleaning and disinfection to minimize the potential for exposure.
  • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
  • If possible, wait up to 24 hours before beginning cleaning and disinfection.
  • Cleaning staff should clean and disinfect all areas (e.g., offices, bathrooms, and common areas) used by the ill persons, focusing primarily on frequently touched surfaces.

At a facility that does house people overnight

  • It is recommended to close off areas used by the ill persons and wait before beginning cleaning and disinfection to minimize the potential for exposure.
  • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
  • If possible, wait up to 24 hours before beginning cleaning and disinfection.
  • Cleaning staff should clean and disinfect all areas (e.g., offices, bathrooms, and common areas) used by the ill persons, focusing mainly on frequently touched surfaces.

How to Clean and Disinfect

  • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water before disinfection.
  • For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.

Linens, Clothing, and Other Items That Go in the Laundry

  • Do not shake dirty laundry; this minimizes the possibility of dispersing the virus through the air.
  • It is important to wash items as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.
  • Clean and disinfect hampers or other carts for transporting laundry according to the guidance above
    for hard or soft surfaces.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Hand Hygiene for Cleaning staff

  • Cleaning staff should wear disposable gloves and gowns for all tasks in the cleaning process, including handling trash.
  • Gloves and gowns should be compatible with the disinfectant products being used.
  • Additional PPE might be required based on the cleaning/disinfectant products being used and whether there is a risk of a splash.
  • Gloves and gowns should be removed carefully to avoid contamination of the wearer and the surrounding area. Be sure to clean your hands after removing gloves.
  • Cleaning staff should immediately report breaches in PPE (e.g., tear in gloves) or any potential exposures to their supervisor.

Professional Cleaning Services

It is highly recommended to hire a professional cleaning company to clean and disinfect your facilities. Here are a few Nationwide cleaning and disinfection companies:

Additional Considerations for Employers

  • Employers should work with their local and state health departments to ensure appropriate local protocols and guidelines, such as updated/additional guidance for cleaning and disinfection, are followed, including for identification of new potential cases.
  • Employers should educate staff and workers performing cleaning, laundry, and trash pick-up activities to recognize the symptoms and provide instructions on what to do if they develop symptoms after their last possible exposure to the virus. At a minimum, any staff should immediately notify their supervisor and the local health department if they develop symptoms. The health department will provide guidance on what actions need to be taken. When working with your local health department, check their available hours.
  • Employers should develop policies for worker protection and provide training to all cleaning staff onsite before providing cleaning tasks. Training should include when to use PPE, what PPE is necessary, how to properly don (put on), use, and doff (take off) PPE, and how to dispose of PPE properly.
  • Employers must ensure workers are trained on the hazards of the cleaning chemicals used in the workplace in accordance with OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard (29 CFR 1910.1200external icon).
  • Employers must comply with OSHA’s standards on Bloodborne Pathogens (29 CFR 1910.1030external icon), including proper disposal of regulated waste, and PPE (29 CFR 1910.132external icon).

BKS-Partners is closely monitoring the situation and we want to keep you up to date with the latest information that impacts your business, colleagues, and family. Visit our COVID-19 Response Resources page for more information.

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