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As workplaces begin opening up after months of shutdowns, 71% of U.S. employers say they have developed workplace and employee safety policies for workers’ return, yet only 32% are prepared for a second wave of mass infections, according to survey results released Wednesday by Willis Towers Watson PLC.
In its second workplace safety survey conducted in three months, the London-based broker also found that companies identifying workplace safety as a top priority rose to 39% in June from 27% in April.
The top measures for protecting employees, according to the survey, are: reconfiguring work areas to maintain six feet of distance (56%), providing employees with personal protective equipment such as masks (76%), and staggering shift changes and breaks (57%).
Of the employers taking such measures, 73% will require masks in public locations, with 24% requiring masks at all times. Eighteen percent of employers plan to test employees for acute infection before they return to work.
Overall, 67% of companies have a process for dealing with a workplace exposure, according to the survey.
Employers are also giving special consideration to at-risk employees who are older or have a medical condition and whose jobs cannot be done remotely. Forty-four percent of employers have accommodated at-risk employees by creating more flexibility, and nearly 50% are planning or considering such actions.
Thirty percent of the employers who are accommodating at-risk employees are reassigning them to new roles that accommodate remote work or physical distancing, and many more plan to do so. A year ago, 11% of workers telecommuted, compared with 60% now, according to the survey.
Willis Towers Watson surveyed 543 employers, representing a combined 5.3 million workers, for its report. The survey was conducted the week of June 8.