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As state, local and municipal governments take steps to reopen businesses across Illinois, employers must take a fresh look at their physical workspace, their workplace practices, and their communication and training of employees in order to prohibit the spread of the coronavirus and to protect employees and clients to keep them safe.

Below is a downloadable checklist for employers to consider when planning to reopen, or for those businesses who have remained open under an “essential” classification. This checklist serves to provide ideas, resources and reminders on how to improve the level of safety and protection in your workplace.


  • If employees can work from home, allow them to continue to telecommute as social distancing and safe hygiene are still the only way to prohibit the spread of the disease.
  • Social distancing, use of PPE, proper disinfecting and proper training are the keys to maintaining a safe workplace.
  • Experts’ understanding of COVID-19 is quickly evolving. From the symptoms of COVID-19 and the CDC’s recommendations to government orders on social distancing, PPE use and workplace closures – information is constantly being updated. Employers should identify all of the resources necessary on the federal (DOL, CDC, EPA, OSHA, EEOC), state, municipal and local levels (health departments, law enforcement, executive offices) in order to keep track of the virus’ impact and their obligations as employers maintaining safe workplaces within their communities.

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As you can see, some of the tasks in the checklist are regulatory and technical, while some are inspirational, including leading by example while in your workplace. While returning to work during a global health pandemic is frightening and uncertain, your commitment to safety, communication and compassion will ensure your workplace and your workers remain productive, healthy and well.

Claudia St. John, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, is president of Affinity HR Group.