Dating back to December 2019 when the very first case of coronavirus infection was reported in Wuhan till recent times when the cases are increasing at an alarming rate, it has been really tough and testing times for all of us. It is a matter of concern, and all sections of our society including businesses and employers must act responsibly and take necessary preventive measures to stop the spread of the disease.
WHO has tagged the COVID-19 outbreak, a pandemic. It is spreading all over the world and is very similar to the influenza virus. Most people who are infected with COVID-19 show symptoms like fever, cough and shortness of breath. There are instances of a few asymptomatic cases where the person affected show no symptoms at all. While most people are recovering, the serious cases have to be taken to the hospital for treatment. Older people, on the other hand, are more vulnerable as well as people who have diabetes, heart and lung diseases.
COVID-19 prevention at workplaces
There are simple and low-cost measures that may help prevent the infection from spreading in your workplace.
- Make sure that the workspace is clean and hygienic.
- Surfaces and objects like phones and computers need to be regularly disinfected to prevent contamination on surfaces touched by employees.
- Promote regular hand-washing and usage of hand sanitizer.
- Promote good respiratory hygiene at your workplace. Ensure that there are enough paper tissues and proper disposal facilities of the same.
- Maintain the recommended distance (1 metre) in seating arrangements.
- People who are coughing or developing a runny nose should use a handkerchief and seek medical help.
- It is also advisable that people who feel sick or experience mild fever and cough should work from home.
- If someone becomes ill at your workplace, it is most important to isolate them and limit all contacts with him or her.
- In the case of a COVID-19 outbreak, advise people to avoid public transport and crowded places.
- Make sure that no one panics and are aware of what they need to do.
- Ask your local or national public health authority to offer support and guidance in developing your plan.
Prevent COVID-19 at work meetings or events
Any meeting or event means a lot of people coming together in one place, which can leave them vulnerable to the virus. Let us have a look at the key considerations to prevent or fight COVID-19 –
Before the meeting or event
- Check with the authorities about the venue you are planning to hold the meeting or event.
- Consider if the meeting could be replaced with a teleconference or an online event.
- Scale down the meeting to fewer people.
- Have surgical masks/tissues at hand for anyone who develops respiratory symptoms or cough and sneeze.
- Make sure that all the details of the participants are taken before the meeting or event so that if someone develops symptoms of the disease it can be reported to the health authorities.
During the meeting or event
- Avoid shaking hands and say hello instead.
- Encourage using an alcohol rub at the meeting or event.
- While coughing or sneezing one must cover his/her face with the bent of their elbow or use a tissue that should be immediately disposed off in a closed bin.
- Alcohol-based rub and sanitisers should be placed prominently around the entire venue.
- Arrange the seats keeping a safe distance of at least one meter between the participants.
- Make sure that your venue is well-ventilated.
- If anyone feels unwell, be prepared and call the helpline if needed.
After the meeting or event
- Retain the name and contact details of the people for at least a month. This will help in tracing people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.
- If someone at the meeting was suspected as a COVID-19 case, inform everyone else present at the meeting or the event so that they can get themselves monitored.
- Make a plan and be prepared regarding what to do if a participant of the meeting or event, staff member or service provider tests positive for COVID-19 just after the meeting.
Prevent COVID-19 while travelling
- Your organisation and employees should be aware and have the latest information on areas where COVID-19 is spreading.
- Based on research and valid information your organisation must assess the benefits and the risks related to your travel.
- Avoid sending employees who are at a considerably higher risk of contracting the disease. Older employees and people with a health conditions like diabetes or heart and lung diseases must not travel.
- Make sure that people travelling for work to locations affected with COVID-19 are briefed by a qualified medical professional about the dos and don’ts.
- Re-consider if the travel is extremely necessary or not.
- The person travelling must carry an alcohol-based hand rub, paper tissues, masks and other essentials to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while travelling.
- While travelling one must wash their hands as frequently as possible.
- Maintain at least one meter distance from people who are coughing or sneezing.
- Make sure that your employee is aware of and follows local restrictions while travelling.
- Employees who have returned from a place affected with COVID-19 should be asked to monitor themselves for symptoms before joining work again.
- They should check their body temperature at regular intervals.
- If they develop even a mild cough or low-grade fever they should stay at home and self-isolate.
Precautions and planning are important to prevent COVID-19 outbreak at workplaces. It can make a huge difference and help protect your employees and the workplace.