Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19

 

In January 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of a new coronavirus disease in Hubei Province, China to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. WHO stated there is a high risk of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spreading to other countries around the world.
WHO and public health authorities around the world are taking action to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. However, long term success cannot be taken for granted. All sections of our society – including businesses and employers – must play a role if we are to stop the spread of this disease.

How COVID-19 spreads
When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid. Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects – such as desks, tables or telephones. People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. If
they are standing within one meter of a person with COVID-19 they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them. In other words, COVID-19 spreads in a similar way to flu. Most persons infected with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and recover. However, some go on to experience more serious illness and may require hospital care. Risk of serious illness rises with age: people over 40 seem to be more vulnerable than those under 40. People with weakened immune systems and people with conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung disease are also more vulnerable to serious illness.

  • Make sure your workplaces are clean and hygienic Surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped
    with disinfectant regularly
  • Why? Because contamination on surfaces touched by employees and customers is one of the main ways that COVID-19 spreads
  • Promote regular and thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors and customers. 
  • Put sanitizing hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace. Make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled 
  • Display posters promoting hand-washing – ask your local public health authority for these or look on www.WHO.int.
    Combine this with other communication measures such as offering guidance from
    occupational health and safety officers, briefings at meetings and information on the
    intranet to promote hand-washing
    Make sure that staff, contractors and customers have access to places where they can
    wash their hands with soap and water
    Why? Because washing kills the virus on your hands and prevents the spread of COVID19
    Promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace
    Display posters promoting respiratory hygiene. Combine this with other communication
    measures such as offering guidance from occupational health and safety officers, briefing
    at meetings and information on the intranet etc.
    Ensure that face masks1 and / or paper tissues are available at your workplaces, for those
    who develop a runny nose or cough at work, along with closed bins for hygienically
    disposing of them
    Why? Because good respiratory hygiene prevents the spread of COVID-19
    Advise employees and contractors to consult national travel advice before going on business trips.
    Brief your employees, contractors and customers that if COVID-19 starts spreading in your
    community anyone with even a mild cough or low-grade fever (37.3 C or more) needs to stay at
    home. They should also stay home (or work from home)
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