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KU-EHS April Safety Tip, Part II: Social Distancing for Employees in the Workplace

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Social Distancing for Employees in the Workplace

Social distancing means deliberately increasing the physical space between you and another person, ideally six feet. This is the most important action we can take to slow the spread of COVID-19, commonly called coronavirus. By staying at least six feet away from others,
you dramatically reduce the chance of coming into contact with any virus they may shed through coughing or sneezing. Some employees in operations-critical positions may be needed to report to the workplace. Ask them to observe the following precautions as recommended by CDC and OSHA.

Tips for Employees

  • Practice six-foot social distancing in every situation possible
  • Avoid using public transportation to commute if possible
  • Avoid situations at or outside work where more than

10 people are gathered

  • Use phone, email or conferencing technology instead of face-to-face interactions
  • Postpone travel plans and arrange alternatives such as conferencing
  • Do not shake hands
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or apply hand sanitizer immediately after coming in contact with another person
  • If wearing gloves, wash your hands immediately after taking them off
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow, and immediately wash hands or apply hand sanitizer
  • Keep frequently touched areas clean, for example, phones, computers, desktops and other equipment
  • Do not use other workers’ equipment

Tips for Supervisors/Managers

  • Actively encourage sick employees to stay home
  • Send home employees who appear to be sick or become sick during the day
  • Do not require a doctor’s note to validate need for sick leave or returning to work
  • Allow flexibility for employees who have a sick family member to care for
  • Ask companies that provide contract or temporary employees to follow your policy

Employers can get information about actions to take in the OSHA publication Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19.


Keeping this in mind, remember that staying connected, with co-workers and others, is important and beneficial.

Working from home means less in-person interaction with your colleagues, but it does not mean you can’t connect with them in other ways. Scheduling video chats or meetings is a fantastic way to keep interaction with your coworkers going. If you don’t have video capabilities, regular phone calls can also help keep you connected. In addition, you can plan or participate in fun activities with your remote colleagues, such as virtual coffee breaks, group walking challenges or sharing photos of your unique home work spaces. While it is important to avoid distractions during your work day, taking time to interact with fellow employees can help you avoid feelings of isolation and make your day feel more “normal.”

If you are feeling isolated, remember The Employee Assistance Program can help. Contact them at 888.275.1205, Option 1> More information may be found at https://wellness.ku.edu/sites/wellness.ku.edu/files/images/general/EAP%20Flyer.pdf


Coronavirus, Social Distancing and Self Quarantine
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19):
Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
OSHA: How to Protect Yourself in the Workplace During a Pandemic

Report A Safety Concern

Report a concern to KU-EHS

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