The COVID-19 pandemic has gradually become a global one. Spreading from country to country and affecting or finding its way into every single daily human process and routine, including the workplace.
Already, a lot of companies locally and internationally have had to change their work pattern and process to adjust and help curb the spread of the pandemic. The world health organization and international and even local bodies have advised Social Distancing and many other safety precautions.
Since the workplace is a place where people spend most of their time, the workplace has an important role to play in curbing this pandemic.
How Does COVID-19 Spread?
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 the 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. The 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 with high severity.
The question now is, as an employer of labour, what is your role to help curb the spread of the pandemic in the absence of a known and potent vaccine?
ENCOURAGE REMOTE WORK
Looking on the bright side, COVID-19 could be an eye-opener for the workplace in general into the possibilities and the efficiency of remote work. Encourage your staff to work from home if they can. Provide need equipment and support to facilitate this process.
In a scenario where you cannot afford to work remotely, the following will suffice.
MAKE SURE YOUR WORKPLACE IS CLEAN AND HYGIENIC
Surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly. Surfaces are the fastest ways a virus can spread when touched by employees and customers.
Encourage regular and consistent thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors, and customers by providing washing equipment, sanitizers, and disinfectants to easily accessible places in the office.
Make use of posters and office sign items if you have to, and also brief your staff (at least once daily) about the status of the pandemic an also or look to WHO’s Situation Report to get the latest news and advice.
IF THERE IS EVER A CASE OF COVID-19
Develop a contingency plan of what to do if an employee shows symptoms within the NCDC or WHO listed symptoms of COVID-19.
The plan should entail putting such employee in a place where they are isolated from others in the workplace, totally reducing contact with such person and contacting the right authorities.
Don’t forget to do this without stigmatization, discrimination and the spread of panic.
You can also talk to your local health authorities (NCDC) handling the pandemic about your initial plan and as for the help with the approved guide.