Maintain Employee Safety during COVID-19

A photo of a server handing a cup of coffee to a patron
As bars and restaurants begin reopening across the country, employers are faced with trying to find the right balance between welcoming back customers while also maintaining employee safety.

As bars and restaurants begin reopening across the country, employers are faced with trying to find the right balance between welcoming back customers while also maintaining employee safety. While some may be eager to get back to work, others are scared about the risks associated with coming into contact with customers. Employers will need to take precautions in order to maintain customer and employee safety as COVID-19 continues to be an issue. 

First and foremost, any employees who are at high risk should be accommodated in order to reduce contact with customers. Older adults and anyone with underlying medical conditions are considered high risk and should be given extra protection from exposure. For restaurants, this can mean modifying responsibilities. If possible, employees may be able to help with accounting and other administrative tasks from home. They may also be able to help with inventory and ordering rather than actually serving customers.

Create a More Flexible Environment

It is also important to remain flexible when it comes to the worksite and scheduling. You may have to rotate or stagger shifts so that not everyone is working at the same time. Also, make any necessary changes to the establishment so that people are able to maintain social distance. Create traffic patterns, reorganize work stations and make any other adjustments in order to put space between employees and customers.

Wear Masks and Gloves for Employee Safety

As we now know, masks and gloves can be effective in protecting people and slowing the spread of COVID-19. That is why it is important that all employees, not just those who are working in the front of the house, use these simple tools. Taking employee temperatures at the start or each shift is another way to detect any symptoms. Now is also the time to invest in any other tools and technology that can bring the kitchen up-to-date and support employees so that they can work more efficiently. This may allow you to work better with a smaller staff while also improving employee safety.

Managing employee safety during the pandemic can be challenging, especially when you have to rely on everyone to self-report symptoms. As an employer, it is important to be clear about protocols and make sure that employees notify their supervisor of any symptoms. Anyone who is sick should stay home and take the necessary precautions. The CDC has provided resources and instructions about what to do if you contract the virus and how businesses should proceed if an employee becomes sick. The local health department may be able to offer additional resources and guidance.  

Employers and their staff will need to work together to establish and follow certain protocols in order to limit contact and maximize employee safety as much as possible. With the right tools and strategies, along with some cooperation, restaurants and bars can reopen while also reducing the risk of exposure as much as possible.


What if some employees are at higher risk?

Try to offer alternatives for employees who are considered high-risk so that they can reduce their exposure. This may mean allowing them to work from home and help with administrative tasks.

How can I maintain employee safety at work?

Create a space where they can easily practice social distancing. Make sure to stagger shifts and offer different scheduling rotations so that you can limit the number of staff.

What measures should I take to effectively protect my staff?

Take employees’ temperatures, provide masks and gloves for both front and back of the house employees and provide them with the tools and technology they need to work more efficiently.

How do I monitor and manage my employees’ health?

Make sure that employees know to report symptoms to their supervisor and stay home if they are sick. Also, follow CDC and local health department recommendations.



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