Staying safe while working in client homes
Tips for front line workers to help minimize their risk and keep them safe
While many Coloradans maintain social distance and stay safer at home, “essential workers” continue to serve their communities.
The term might bring to mind health care workers and grocery store staff, but small-business owners know they’re not alone. Contractors, real estate agents, home health aides, social workers and housekeeping staff are just some of those on the front lines. Many of these workers must enter client homes as part of their jobs, leaving them with little control over their work environment.
While the health and safety of these workers has always been a top concern, the uncertainty of the pandemic makes protecting your employees even more critical. The tips below can help minimize their risk and help keep them safe.
Tips for employees working in client homes
1. Get details on the situation prior to arrival.
Find out whether anyone in the home is sick or under quarantine and, if so, aim to postpone the visit if possible. If everyone appears healthy, use email and phone conversations to find out as much about the project as you can in order to minimize time spent in the home. Also request online payment for services to reduce in-person interaction.
2. Keep your distance.
Greet the customer verbally, but don’t shake hands. Let the customer know that you will be keeping a 6 foot distance from everyone throughout the job.
3. Wear proper protective gear.
Many jobs already require gear such as masks and gloves. Even if your role typically doesn’t require them, consider wearing them now to keep yourself and others safe.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that everyone wear a mask; a homemade mask is acceptable if a manufactured respirator/mask is not available.
4. Bring your own tools.
Whether it’s a mop for washing the floor or a pen to sign paperwork, bring your own equipment to avoid having to touch the homeowner’s belongings. Make sure to sanitize all tools upon leaving the home and before placing them in your vehicle.
5. Practice proper hygiene.
Clean and disinfect all work surfaces before beginning the task. Wash your hands when you arrive, before you leave and any other time it feels prudent. Bring paper towels to dry your hands rather than using a hand towel provided by the client. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
6. Keep your vehicle sanitized.
If you share a vehicle, make sure to use an approved sanitizer to wipe down all surfaces between uses. If you are driving your own vehicle, wash your hands or use sanitizer after exiting a client’s house and before entering your vehicle.
7. Wash your clothes as soon as you arrive home.
Change out of your work clothing and take a hot shower immediately after getting home—before you relax or greet family members. You may choose to wash the clothing you wore on the job in hot water separately from other garments.
Tips for specific types of personnel
In addition to the advice above, here are some tips specific to the situations faced by professionals in certain industries.
- To avoid close contact with others, complete as much of the job outside or off-site as feasible, such as building and assembling components or staging materials.
- If you will be returning to the same site for several days, rope off the area where you’re working and ask clients to avoid using it if possible.
- If you are working as part of a team, maintain distance and take breaks on rotating schedules.
- Maintain strict hygiene protocols throughout the visit.
- Avoid certain tasks, such as changing sheets, if possible. Explain that the less time you spend touching clients’ personal items, the safer everyone will be.
- To help avoid spreading contaminated dust, use vacuums with a HEPA filtration system.
The most important thing you can do as an employer is place a high priority on your workers’ health and safety. Encourage them to bring their concerns to you, and do whatever you can to mitigate risks while still meeting clients’ needs.
(This sponsored content was provided by Pinnacol Assurance)