The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which began in China, continues to spread around the world. Growing cases of coronavirus infection have caused a great stir among many.
Face masks and hygienic products are in high demand, nations are closing their borders, and the global economy is taking a hit due to the coronavirus. With all the confusion and commotion, everyone has questions and fears about COVID-19.
In particular, employers, whose businesses may struggle with the continuing development of the coronavirus outbreak, are in need of answers to learn how to deal with the evolving challenges arising from COVID- 19. It is difficult for employers to imagine the possibility of their employees potentially being placed on quarantine or forced to take a leave of absence. However, this is a real possibility that might leave employers short of manpower in the workplace.
The best coronavirus protection companies can look forward to is a safety measure plan for their business and workplace. For starters, there are a number of coronavirus health and safety protocols that can be implemented in the workplace. Organizations should also put in place a business continuity plan (BCP), and even a crisis coronavirus management plan. The solutions to protect yourself and your business are out there, and here we provide you with some of the best coronavirus preventive measures you can employ.
What is the Coronavirus, Where Did It Come From?
The coronavirus, also formally known as COVID-19, is a new strain that evolved from a larger family of viruses that typically attack the respiratory system. The virus itself is a zoonotic infectious disease, which means that it made the jump from animals to humans. The name of the virus is derived from the Latin word for crown and the Greek meaning for garland or wreath, due to the spikes that encircle the virus.
Although several sources point to the origin of COVID-19 to be in Wuhan, China, no one can really say with full certainty where COVID-19 came from. According to a leading hypothesis, bats are the original source of the virus where they eventually spread humans.
How Does the Coronavirus Spread and What are the Symptoms?
A simple cough or exhale from someone infected with COVID-19 releases droplets of infected fluid into the air or onto nearby surfaces and objects, such as tables, counters, and telephones. Other people can instantly get infected with COVID-19 by touching those contaminated surfaces and objects. Consider the following, an infected person places his hands on his mouth as he coughs, and then proceeds to touch a pole on the bus or metro. Others who touch the same pole, and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth, become infected and risk of passing it on to others. In other instances, COVID-19 can even be transmitted through breathing in the droplets in the air that are coughed out or exhaled out by an infected person standing withing a meter of distance. Think of COVID-19 as you would about the common flu. It can spread quickly and exponentially.
For now, we know the coronavirus can cause pneumonia and that it can even cause death among older people, especially if they already suffer from existing health problems. The reality is that most people infected with the coronavirus experience symptoms similar to those of the flu (i.e., fever, coughing, and aches). In some cases, however, symptoms can be severe and may require immediate hospital care. The risk of severe symptoms seems to be higher for people over 40 years of age, people with weak immune systems, and people with existing medical conditions. In order to stay safe and avoid getting infected, it is wise to consider the best coronavirus safety tips.
The Best Safety Measures Employers Can Use to Deal With COVID-19
When it comes to your business, you want to make sure to effectively protect it by taking into account the best safety measures to deal with any threats that could harm the integrity of your business and workplace. The COVID-19 has proved to be a real challenge to overcome for most employers. But there are tools, tips, and measures to help you prevent the spread of COVID-10 in your workplace. Take into account low-cost coronavirus measures to protect your customers, employees, and contractors. As an employer, it is imperative to begin to take all preventive measures against COVID-19, even if it has not arrived in your community. It is always better to be safe than sorry. As such, consider the following safety measures we have compiled for you to deal with COVID-19.
Sanitation in the Workplace
Keeping your workplace clean and hygienic will eliminate the possibility of any viruses, including COVID-19 from lingering around for too long. It is important to maintain all surfaces, including desks and tables, and all objects, being telephones, keyboards, and things of that sort, as clean as possible. Regularly wipe down as much as you can with a disinfectant.
It is crucial to do this thoroughly around the workplace because any contaminated surfaces and objects touched by employees and customers will allow for COVID-19 to continue to spread and infect more people.
Promote Routine and Thorough Hand-washing
A good way to promote regular and thorough hand-washing is by putting up hand sanitizing rub dispensers in noticeable areas around the workplace. Keep in mind to also regularly refill all the dispensers as well. Alert and remind everyone in the workplace to keep their hands clean by displaying posters that promote hand-washing.
In addition, offer guidance from occupational health and safety experts and credible sources from the internet to promote hand-washing. Make sure that the places, where hands can be washed with soap and water, are accessible to the staff, contractors, and customers. Washing your hands with soap and water will kill the COVID-19 and prevent it from spreading to others.
Promote Respiratory Hygiene in the Workplace
Respiratory hygiene is important because COVID-19 can linger in the air for several hours. Use posters to promote respiratory hygiene. Educate and maintain your staff informed about the importance of respiratory hygiene and the steps they can take to maintain a clean environment in the workplace. Make sure that face masks, paper tissues, and closed bins are available at all times at the workplace. Anyone with a runny nose or cough at work will appreciate this. Good respiratory hygiene in the workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the staff.
Provide Health and Safety Plans for Your Employees
Under the Workplace Health and Safety Act (WHS Act), employers and HR departments are actually required to take up measures to ensure the health and safety of their employees at work. Failing to fulfill this duty may lead employers to be liable for committing a criminal offense. The common law also requires employers to maintain a safe workplace that ensures the safety of its employees. In general, by the law or not, it is the moral duty and responsibility of employers to implement health and safety measures that ensure compliance with a set of obligations to maintain a safe and healthy workplace.
Take precautionary measures, such as daily temperature-taking, the appropriate use of protective masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers. Periodically clean public or high traffic areas in the workplace. Provide training to your employees on how to properly live up to hygienic and cleanliness standards. Encourage them to practice good personal hygiene by washing their hands regularly, covering their mouths while coughing or sneezing, and to avoid touching their faces. Educate your employees on how to identify the symptoms related to COVID-19, and to know what steps to take if they themselves feel such related symptoms. Also, train your employees on how to properly notify administrators if visitors or customers report feeling relative symptoms. Ask your employees to agree to a travel and health declaration to update HR in the case of any changes related to COVID-19. If any employees, while traveling, are suspected of being a confirmed case of coronavirus infection, they should notify their employer as soon as possible. It is important to keep your employees updated on the status of the coronavirus outbreak and on any novel recommendations by officials. And lastly, it is essential that employers make the effort to ensure that the workplace is free of discrimination and harassment. It is easy for a workplace atmosphere to fall prey to fear and confusion during a time of heightened tensions. Maintain peace in the workplace and encourage your staff to remain calm at all times.
Comply With Employment-related Advisories by the MOM
The employment-related measures and advisories issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) of the government of Singapore, are strongly advised to be followed by employers for a safer workplace. Comply with all the measures and advisories by the MOM. You can find and get all the latest advisories and updates on COVID-19 through their website. Get acquainted with all their detailed employment-related measures to protect your workplace against COVID-19.
Incorporate a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)
A business continuity plan (BCP) is a plan that helps to ensure all business processes continue to operate during a period of emergency or disaster. In the case of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, a BCP should be prepared by employers, and it should be ready to be put into action.
A general business continuity plan should include the following:
- A scheme for separate teams of staff working from safe locations.
- Flexible working arrangements for white-collar employees, and a roster that allows employees in manual labor to rotate on workdays/shifts.
- A plan for employees to take unpaid leave or work reduced hours, especially for employees who have a high frequency of interactions with customers.
- Training for employees on how to be redeployed in different areas of work that require more or necessary manpower.
- A set of crisis management protocols and infrastructure to pro-actively respond to a crisis while effectively protecting your customers, employees, and business.
Business continuity plans are useful and beneficial for both, employers and employees. Several guides exist on the best ways to implement and incorporate a BCP in your business. For example, take a look at a great guide with useful BCP protocols aimed at keeping your business safe and operational.
Things to Consider When You and Your Employees Travel
Several things must be taken into consideration when your employees travel during a time of a serious pandemic, such as COVID-19. First of all, there are three separate phases of traveling to consider, before traveling, while traveling, and returning from traveling.
Before your employees travel:
- Make sure your business and employees are updated on the latest where COVID-19 is spreading.
- Avoid sending employees who may be at a higher risk of getting infected by COVID-19. This includes employees of older age and/or with already existing medical conditions.
- Ensure that any employees traveling to locations where the spread of COVID-19 has been reported are briefed by a qualified professional about the precautions they should take.
- Provide your traveling employees with small bottles (under 100 cl) of alcohol-based hand sanitizing rub.
While your employees travel:
- Remind and encourage your employees to regularly wash their hands and to stay at least one meter away from people who appear to show symptoms of being ill (i.e., coughing, runny nose).
- Make sure that employees understand what to do and who to contact in the case of feeling ill while traveling.
- Ensure that your employees comply with the regulations, rules, and instructions from the local authorities. Your employees should be compliant with any local restrictions on traveling.
When your employees return from traveling:
- After employees return from an area where COVID-19 is spreading, they should monitor themselves for symptoms and check their temperature twice a day.
- All employees with a travel history in the last 14 days to Mainland China (Hubei Province) are required to adhere to a 14-day quarantine. As for employees with a travel history in the last 14 days to Mainland China (except Hubei), France, Italy, Germany, Iran, Republic of Korea, Spain, ASEAN countries, Japan, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) should be observed. Singapore, for example, implements all these precautionary measures to further reduce the risk of importing COVID-19 to Singapore
- If employees develop mild symptoms related to COVID-19, they should stay at home, quarantine themselves, and notify the local public health department with details of their recent travel and symptoms.
Get Started With Wylcome
As for coronavirus safety software, Wylcome is the solution for employers and HR managers to deal with the threats of coronavirus in the workplace. You can benefit from useful features designed to create a safe and healthy working environment in your business and/or organization. Get free access to a smart and simple interface to monitor the temperature recordings of your employees. Receive access to employee health declarations and notifications of their temperature readings and symptoms, monitor their automatically captured geo-tagging to ensure that they comply with stipulated work locations. Use Wylcome to provide your business with a seamless digital experience.
The time is now to prepare for COVID-19. As an employer, planning and taking simple precautions can make a big difference. It is better to be safe now than being sorry later. Take action now to ensure that your workplace, business, employees, and customers are safe and healthy. Adopting safety plans and a detailed business continuity plan will protect your business in times of critical events. Also, make sure to comply with the recent employment advisories from the MOM in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Many things happen unexpectedly so the best thing you can do as an employer is to be prepared and ready. How well prepared you are will eliminate the margin of error, and by taking up the best coronavirus safety measures you will be sure to have the best tools at hand to deal with the COVID-19 in the workplace.