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How to Protect Your Workplace from Coronavirus…

Information and statistics on the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, are changing rapidly, creating worry, chaos and misinformation to be spread along with the illness. To combat this, employers need to have an open dialogue with their employees about the virus.

Here are our top tips for protecting your workplace and your employees:

Encourage Regular Handwashing

Remind employees that the best way to prevent the spread of the illness is to regularly wash their hands and avoid touching their mouth, eyes or nose. Washing hands with water and soap for a duration of 20 seconds, rubbing and lathering the backs of the hands, between the fingers and under the nails, is the most effective method. In order to time 20 seconds while washing your hands, you can hum or sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice from beginning to end.

To reinforce and remind employees that they should be washing their hands regularly, place signs around the building and especially in public areas such as bathrooms and food preparation areas. Ensure that the soap dispensers are kept topped up as undoubtedly, they will run out sooner than before.  Hand gel is a good second choice option, only when employees do not have access to running water to wash their hands.

Perform Routine Environmental Cleaning

If anyone with COVID-19 coughs they release droplets of infected fluid and these droplets, attach themselves to the nearest surfaces and objects – such as desks, tables or telephones, so by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth, you will spread the infection in the same way that the flu virus is spread. With this in mind, ensure that you routinely clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops and door handles. It may help to provide employees with disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces can be wiped down before each use.  

Actively Encourage Sick Employees to Stay Home

It is recommended from health professionals that employees that have symptoms of acute respiratory illness stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever, signs of a fever and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines. Employers should ensure that their sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are well aware of these policies.  The self-quarantine rules regarding COVID-19 are regularly updated by the NHS and there is a simple online tool available at https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19

Have an Open Dialogue and Share Objectives with Employees

Employers need to consider how to best decrease the spread of acute respiratory illnesses and lower the impact of COVID-19 in their workplace and share plans with their employees. Plans should identify and communicate their objectives, which may include one or more of the following:

● reducing transmission among staff

● protecting people who are at higher risk for adverse health complications

● maintaining business operations

● minimising adverse effects on other entities in their supply chains

The government has declared coronavirus a “serious and imminent threat” to public health, and a coronavirus action plan has been made public. It believes that it may be possible that a fifth of the workforce could be off sick during the peak of an epidemic. As and when more is discovered about the disease and what, if any, impact its course has on the UK, the government will provide further updates on how plans are being adapted to respond to specific, changing circumstances. In the meantime, the Health and Safety Executive are providing helpful advice <<here>>.

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