The emergence and rapid spread of COVID-19 has impacted businesses and markets worldwide, causing widespread disruption of services, production, and logistics. The downstream impact of which was felt from multinational corporations to individual consumers.
As the US reaches a turning point, with states re-opening for business, many have concerns regarding safely integrating back into the workforce and returning to “business as usual” in a way that won’t put them, their families or employees at risk.
David Vanech, a leading Rhode Island financial advisor at Oppenheimer, acclaimed for this forward-thinking results-driven strategies discusses the “state of the union” as it relates to safely returning to work post-shutdown.
Workplace Safety Guidance
Behind the scenes, governmental agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have been hard at work, establishing guidelines for employers aimed at increasing safety in the workplace amid the pandemic.
According to David Vanech, “Currently these guidelines are just that, guidelines. As it stands, they are voluntary and not enforceable by law. Although this could change in the future.” David goes on to explain that due to the “voluntary” nature of the guidelines, legal minimum mandates will be dependent on various individual state and other jurisdictional requirements.
How Employers Can Step Up to Do Their Part
Workers returning to work are apprehensive. Vanech wants to encourage employers to help their employees feel confident that they are doing everything within reason to protect their health and safety.
To that end, in addition to following the recommended guidelines in place by various federal agencies, he asserts that businesses should consider several key areas of opportunity.
1. Social Distancing
The primary mode of transmission for COVID-19 is by way of close person-to-person contact when respiratory droplets become airborne. This simple, yet highly effective, preventative measure should be implemented throughout any organization. Vanech offers suggestions such as moving workspaces and desks to 6-ft apart, separating workstations, staggering shifts to decrease the total number of employees present at any one time, or even reducing capacity when appropriate.
2. Physical Barriers and Frequent Sanitation
HVAC systems, ventilation and fans have shown evidence of spreading COVID farther than 6-feet. As such, Vanech suggests businesses consider installing physical barriers such as plastic dividers as a second line of defense, as well as frequent sanitation of high use surfaces per CDC guidelines.
3. Providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Especially for those businesses with close or frequent contact with either other personally or customers, PPE should be provided. This primarily means facemasks. Vanech explains that at the federal level, employers aren’t legally required to provide PPE. However, some states have imposed such legal mandates (i.e. Michigan and Rhode Island).
4. Policies and Procedures for Screening and/or Appearance of Symptoms
Screening questions, such as “do you have the chills or a fever?” as well as the implementation of a temperature-taking screening process provide another level of protection for others.
5. Telework / Work From Home
When possible, employers should consider extending or expanding their “work from home” policies. In today’s modern age, businesses have the technology and capability to not only allow employees to work from home, but to do so in a way that empowers them to take ownership of their role, engages them in a meaningful way, and utilizes chat, voice, video, social intranets, and live feeds among other tools to build and foster a high performing culture.
About David Vanech
David Vanech, based out of Providence, Rhode Island, is a financial expert holding a B.A. in American Studies from Wesleyan University, as well as holding several industry certifications.
Over his years in the financial industry, Vanech has developed a strong reputation for his forward-thinking strategies and expert wealth management consultation for high net worth individuals. Having initially “learned the ropes” during his job at Morgan Stanley, Vanech has risen within the industry to his current role as Senior Director of Investments for Oppenheimer & Co., in which he has proudly served for ten years.
In his downtime, Vanech contributes heavily in both time and leadership as an active volunteer in several local charitable and philanthropic organizations, and is a current board member of both the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning of Rhode Island as well as the Providence After School Alliance.
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