Businesses Deliver on Demands for COVID-19 Safety
BY CHRISTINE TORRES
Published May 11, 2020
There is no mistaking what to do outside one Italian restaurant in Stockton, California. “X” marks the spot for each hungry pizza lover to stand in line for social distancing. Some signs alert guests of proper protocol, while others inform workers and delivery personnel of important procedures at the restaurant. It is a thorough plan that was put into action before the restaurant reopened for to-go orders after its short closure due to COVID-19 precautions.
“We wanted to make sure our customers were comfortable with ordering from us, so we thought about the whole process from ordering to pickup to making the food and taking payments,” said Leah Jaurequi, the restaurant’s to-go order specialist. “This process is working well now, and we will have more safety measures in place when we are able to fully reopen the restaurant.”
The safety plans for when the restaurant dining room reopens to the public are just as thorough. Social distancing and other measures at the longtime Italian establishment will keep workers and guests safe and in line with expert recommendations. An alert by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides pertinent safety tips for all restaurants and other businesses to protect people and prevent the spreading of COVID-19.
“We will limit the number of customers inside the restaurant, and space table guests. We’ve marked pathways for workers and for table guests,” Jaurequi said. “Guests waiting to dine inside will have to wait outside or in their vehicles. We are going to encourage reservations and advise people to call in advance to confirm our serving capacity. We’ve also set up a phone call system to let guests know their table is ready.”
Implement New Procedures
OSHA recently sent out a press release with methods to protect workers from coronavirus exposure while they provide curbside pickup and takeout service. Most states’ return to work plans include distancing and occupancy requirements prior to opening dining rooms, breweries, wineries, and other indoor service providers. OSHA recommends restaurants and other food providers implement the following:
- Reserve parking spaces near the front door and mark them for curbside pickup only.
- Avoid direct hand-off of food items and payment, when possible.
- On doors or sidewalks, display a sign that details the services available (e.g., take-out, curbside), instructions for pick up and payment, and hours of operation.
- Maintain 6 feet between co-workers and customers for sensible social distancing. Mark 6-foot distances with social distancing signs in pickup lines, encourage customers to pay ahead of time by phone or online, temporarily move workstations to create more distance, and install plexiglass partitions, if feasible.
- Allow workers to wear masks over their nose and mouth, and other appropriate personal protective equipment, to prevent the spreading of the virus.
- Provide a place to wash hands and use alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Encourage workers and customers to stay home if ill and report any safety and health concerns.
Additional safety requirements for businesses include:
- Continual and consistent disinfection practices
- Prohibit buffets and other self-serve options including karaoke machines, pool tables, and bowling
- Shift menus to single-use, or clean laminated menus between customers; alternatively, post menus online, or on a larger panel or whiteboard to avoid multiple contact points.
- Strongly encourage all customers to wear cloth, paper, or disposable face coverings. Customers do not need to wear face coverings while seated at the table. If a business sets a policy that all customers are required to wear cloth, paper or disposable face coverings, business management should consult with their legal counsel to determine whether such a requirement can be enforced.
- States with video lottery systems will also need to comply with social distancing and disinfection procedures.
Customize Safety Plans
While no one is sure of when the coronavirus pandemic will end, restaurants and other industrial operations are in a time of transition. From the reaction phase to preparing for the future, safety communication is more important than ever. Use communication tools to improve operations, maximize worker efficiency, and optimize workflow.
Workplaces can improve workplace communication to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Reinforce safety during curbside and takeout service using custom signs and labels. Manage customer traffic flows and occupancy limits, call attention to pedestrian traffic, and alert visitors with premade A-frame signs. Provide workers with essential personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves. Remind workers of COVID-19 safety tips, such as frequent hand washing, and reinforce health training using awareness posters and other materials. Whether keeping pace with changes or ramping back up to normal, workplaces can easily get products and services to help adjust safety plans.
Learn what safety labels and signs are essential and how to create them, following OSHA and ANSI standards and requirements with the OSHA Safety Signs Guide.