How COVID-19 is Affecting the Workplace
Just less than 24 hours ago, the World Health Organization labeled the COVID-19 as a pandemic.
According to WHO’s definition, a pandemic is a worldwide spread of a new disease. Reports place the figures of infected persons at around 120,000 in about 114 countries. While the disease isn’t as fatal as other pandemics, it is still a major cause for concern.
Countries have shut their borders and cities have been put in full quarantine in order to stem the further spread of the virus. In the case of Italy, the whole country is on a stand-still. This newly declared pandemic has resulted in a major downturn in economic activity all over the world. Even countries that don’t have any cases yet are feeling the effects of the COVID-19.
Promote Frequent Hand Washing
The organization must actively remind employees to regularly wash their hands, and also to avoid touching their face. According to experts, the only way the virus can infect an individual is when it goes into the body. When it is on the skin, it doesn’t survive for long. However, it can still find its way into the body through frequent contact with the face. As such, the frequent use of soap and water to wash the hands will kill the virus and prevent its spread. At the moment, this remains the best way to prevent the spread of the illness. Also, soap and water should be easily accessible in the workplace as the CDC recommends hand washing for 20 seconds.
Routine Workplace Cleaning
An organization should ensure that surfaces that are frequently touched in the workplace such as work stations, countertops, and doorknobs are regularly cleaned and disinfected all the time. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers should be provided for each employee. CDC recommends employees to use cleaning agents for these areas and follow the directions on the label. Disposable wipes should be provided for employees so that commonly used surfaces can be wiped down before each use.
Encourage Sick Employees to Stay Home
Employees who show any signs of acute respiratory illness should be mandated to stay at home. This is according to advice recommended by health professionals and experts. Policies guiding sick leave should be flexible and consistent with public health guidance. Now is not the time for employers to request healthcare provider’s note from an employee that is down with acute respiratory illness to validate illness or to return to work.
Not only does traveling now put the employees at risk, but it also opens up everyone to the risk of getting infected. As such, employees should be completely discouraged from traveling. All travel plans should be either canceled or suspended. As of now, it should be part of company policy and all official engagements involving traveling to be on hold. This reduces the risk of spreading the disease to areas not yet infected. Also, employees that just got back from recent travel should be sure to check themselves for symptoms of the virus and have themselves in self-isolation for 14-days.
Share Prevention Plans With The Employees
Employers need to come up with plans that can reduce the spread of acute respiratory illnesses and lower the impact of COVID-19 in their workplace and share these plans with their employees. If the business intends to remain in operation, its plan to reduce the spread of the virus should include reducing its transmission among staff and protecting people who are at higher risk of adverse health complications.
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