Prevent Corona Spread in the Workplace
How Can We Prevent Corona Spread?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak as a pandemic as of March 11th. However, as WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom emphasized in this announcement, “We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough: all countries can still change the course of this pandemic” and “several countries have demonstrated that this virus can be suppressed and controlled.”
COVID-19: You and Your Business
As we have seen in the past weeks, the spread of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on air travel, festivals, sporting events and many other aspects of life. But how does this affect the day-to-day business of the Copier Channel?
The Business Solutions Industry is inherently enmeshed with many other businesses. Industry technicians and sales reps visit offices and interact face-to-face with everyone from the reception desk to the copy room to the management or executive offices. As a result, the health and safety of other businesses will have a direct impact on your business – and vice versa.
At this time there is no vaccine for COVID-19. As this is a novel strain of coronavirus, populations do not have pre-existing immunity to this new virus – this makes COVID-19 especially easy to spread. According to the CDC, “the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.”
STAY HOME if you are sick:
- If you have a fever, coughing or experience shortness of breath stay home!
- Follow the CDC’s recommendations if you are sick. In particular, call your doctor if you have COVID-19 symptoms, don’t just show up at Urgent Care.
Clean your hands often:
- This means washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Do this before and after going into a public place or office. Also, do this after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
- If you don’t have access to soap and water, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your face, especially avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands.
Maintain safe distances:
- COVID-19 is spread mainly between people within 6 feet of each other and through respiratory droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze.
- Maintain a distance of 6 feet or more as much as possible. Especially avoid close contact with someone who is sick.
- For the time-being, the practice of shaking hands should be suspended.
Cover coughs and sneezes:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue (or the inside of your elbow) if you cough or sneeze.
- Throw used tissues in the trash.
- Immediately clean your hands (see above).
- Wearing a mask can reduce your risk of spreading COVID-19 to others and may protect you (depending on the mask and correct usage). This may be required by law depending on your location.
Clean and disinfect:
- Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected daily – tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks.
- Dirty surfaces should be cleaned with detergent or soap and water prior to disinfecting them.
- Use products labeled “disinfectant” – diluted bleach, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, EPA registered antimicrobial products, etc. Follow all manufacturer’s instructions for proper and safe use.
The CDC has provided extensive interim guidance for businesses and employers for COVID-19. Here are a few highlights:
- Emphasize to your employees that if they are sick, they are not to come into the office. Employees should not come back to work until they have been symptom-free without the use of medications for at least 24 hours.
- Employees who display or develop symptoms during the work day should be separated from other employees and immediately sent home.
- Encourage employees to use telehealth services if they are available to them.
- Do not require a doctor’s note – healthcare offices have enough to deal with at this time and cannot provide documentation in a timely manner.
- Be lenient with sick leave. Consider temporarily modifying your attendance policies. Employees will try to work while sick if policies penalize them for taking sick leave.
- Re-familiarize yourself with the Family Medical Leave Act and consult with legal counsel.
- Display the CDC’s informational flyers in the office.
- Practice routine environmental cleaning (see above).
- Provide disposable wipes throughout the office so employees can wipe down commonly touched surfaces before use.
- Provide tissues throughout the office for sneezes or coughing.
- Employers should prep for increased employee absences due to their own illness, illness in their household, disruptions in school schedules, etc.
- Identify essential business functions and cross-train employees to allow continued operations.
- Implement remote work programs for compatible positions.
- Once you have formulated a plan and modified policies, etc., you must communicate this clearly to your employees. Provide resources for them to reference later.
- Keep calm. Make it clear that your company is taking proactive steps to reduce risk at this time.
- Encourage general wellness practices – getting enough sleep, exercise and healthy eating.
- Reach out to your clients to assure them of your company’s preventative steps and your commitment to their health and safety. Similarly, communicate your expectations to you clients for how they can protect your employees.
We’re All in This Together
Most importantly, we need to remember that this is not a problem for individuals to face alone but for families, companies, communities, countries and the world to face together. As Dr. Adhanom urged world leaders, “let’s all look out for each other, because we need each other. […] We’re in this together, to do the right things with calm and protect the citizens of the world. It’s doable.”