As we head out the door to go vote, my wife shouts, "Don’t forget your PPE!" Never would I have imagined that I would need personal protective equipment to stand in line to vote. This year's pandemic has brought new safety concerns, and compiled with our normal worries, we have a lot to think about when it comes to the health risks linked to the upcoming elections. Here are a few things we should plan for.
Election staff — An influx of volunteer staff creates an elevated risk of exposure. Simple steps can reduce these exposures.
- Communicate to election volunteers that they represent the county and are expected to behave in a safe and professional way.
- Provide election staff with brief safety training covering slips, trips and falls, back safety and social distancing protocols.
Extra traffic and premises liability — County facilities will see higher than normal traffic during the elections. This increases liability risks. Ensure liability hazards are either eliminated or properly controlled.
- Repair any damaged walkways and floors in common areas.
- Be sure all cords are properly managed. If cords are run across the floor, tape them down to reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls.
- Keep exits free of obstructions. Ensure all exit pathways are free and clear of anything that may block entering or leaving the building.
- Consider locking or roping off areas that have restricted public access
Public health and COVID-19 — Increased traffic during the current pandemic poses concerns both for the public and county employees. Use engineering and administrative controls in conjunction with PPE to ease these concerns and reduce the risks of virus transmission.
- Monitor building capacity. To comply with 6-foot social distancing protocols, building occupancy should not exceed 1 person per 113 square feet.
- Consider requiring employees and the public to wear masks that cover both the mouth and nose.
- Consider providing barrier protection such as Plexiglas between desk staff and the public.
- Provide hand sanitizer for voters and staff.
- Use tape or stickers on the floor to mark 6-foot distances.
- Restrict walkways and hallways to one-way travel with one entrance to the building and one exit.
- Consider using open-air environments and opening windows.
We are anticipating one of the biggest election seasons in recent history. Be sure to make it a safe one. Prepare your staff and take some time to assess the condition of your election facilities. If you need assistance or have questions regarding election safety, contact your TAC risk control consultant.