How to Help Protect Employees from Coronavirusby Jen Ruhman SEO Expert in San Diego
The Coronavirus pandemic has ushered in a new age of business practices, one where health and safety are as stringently maintained like any other professional conduct.
As a business owner or manager, your responsibility for your employees has doubled to ensure better-sanitized cubicles, regular cleaning schedules, a safe distancing between colleagues, and implementing a wide variety of health and hygiene practices in the workplace.
But as simple as this may sound, the real scenario can be greatly difficult to manage.
When we consider the momentous risks posed by this virus, a simple wash and vacuum are hardly sufficient to provide a safe and clean working place.
Despite economies opening up and businesses finally opening their doors, it is more imperative than ever to understand and implement the official health advisory guidelines.
The coronavirus, like most respiratory viruses, spreads through human to human transmission, indicating that close distance between co-workers would potentially end up in someone getting sick, perhaps even fatally.
It also means that one person’s sickness could infect the entire floor, making everyone in the workplace either a carrier of the disease or redundant from work.
In the end, your business does not simply suffer from the implications of the virus but rather topples over with redundant employees, health insurance claims, sick leaves, and very little productivity. Eventually, you will be forced to suspend all business activities together.
Take a moment to read this guide: How to Help Protect Employees from Coronavirus.
The Checklist for Employee Health Protection
Governments worldwide have issued various guidelines for proper business conduct during this pandemic.
According to their statements and published research, workplaces can easily tackle the exposure of the virus by strictly maintaining a few important rules.
Ideally, you want to reinforce the knowledge and awareness of your employees as they work.
There can’t be any way around providing substantive information when implementing the following rules, as education and understanding is what motivates people to abide by such guidelines.
According to international governments, these are the steps you need to consider as an operating business during this pandemic:
- Asses all risks and implement adequate measures
- Ensure the involvement of all workers with the new practices
- Provide sufficient resources to workers who have been ill
- Constantly update information
- Allocate information to different sectors and occupations accordingly
Depending on the type of business you own or manage, the forgoing coronavirus guidelines can be altered or modified. However, these are the general rules you need to maintain strictly.
You might also have directions from local authorities regarding business practices and policies during this time of the pandemic.
It is recommended that you follow through with these guidelines as well and keep yourself updated with local health officials and administrators.
Step One: Asses all Risks and Implement Adequate Measures
While businesses are required to take added measures to reduce exposure to the virus in their working environments, government health and safety regulations have always mandated certain practices to be taken even under normal circumstances.
Therefore, as a registered business, you are required by law to always identify and assess any potential risks to your worker’s health and safety in their working environment.
You need to produce an adequate risk assessment and provide it to your employees in a format they can understand.
You can either employ a worker of your own to generate the risk assessment or hire a health provider or certified professional for an official examination of your workplace.
When conducting your risk assessment, you need to factor in employees who have already been exposed to the virus and others who are at either a high or low-risk level of contracting the virus. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), you need to classify your employees based on the following criteria:
- Very High Exposure Risk
Employees participating in occupations which force them to be in environments that have already been contaminated fall under this category. Such workers would typically have fieldwork or engage in laboratory or medical practices. In principle, you can expect these workers to contract the disease almost immediately due to their designated positions.
- High Exposure Risk
Similar to very high exposure risk employees, high exposure risk workers typically engage in environments that are suspected of contamination. An example would be staff for delivery and transport services.
- Medium Exposure Risk
These workers usually have direct contact with suspected or proven sources of the disease. While remaining in safe distances, such workers frequently communicate in varying environments. These can be with the general public, customers, company-related groups and individuals or even colleagues.
- Lower Exposure Risk
Lower risk employees do not engage in any form of direct and frequent contact with infected sources. They work largely in their own closed spaces, but there is a possibility of contracting the virus through an infected colleague.
Once you have prepared your risk assessment, you need to place sufficient measures based on your report. This can be done by implementing a COVID-19 action plan that outlines all the steps you can take to minimize and perhaps mitigate potential risks.
In an ideal world, the best solution would have been to supply everyone at your office with personal protective equipment (PPE) but with its limited production and scarce availability, you need to develop an achievable control measure. A few examples of this could be to:
- Employ workers who are only essential for your business to survive. It is best to minimize the number of workers you let inside of your working premises by only keeping those critical to your workforce.
- Digitalize services wherever possible. If you are a restaurant or offer a service that has a direct worker-to-customer interaction, you can take up online deliveries or provide phone-based services. This ensures minimal contact between outside sources with your workers.
- Provide necessary hygiene equipment and resources for workers to use at all times. This can just be soap, water, and hand sanitizer at every washroom or thorough cleaning of your workplace. You should also note that a professional cleaning company will do a more effective job than an in-house janitor with limited equipment.
- Create barriers between workers. You can use plastic sheets or taped boxes on the floor to highlight and place these social distancing barriers.
If you want more information about adequate guidelines for a workplace to follow, you can refer to the OSH guideline on preparing a workplace during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Step Two: Involving Workers with New Practices
Your rules will only work as long as your workers are well-informed and involved in the process. Workers will easily reject ideas and instructions when it is placed on them suddenly and without prior knowledge.
Therefore, even with the beginning of your risk assessment, you need to inform your workers beforehand about the changes you wish to make.
As you begin to implement health regulations around your workplace, you should consult your workers and hear them out on any of their questions, comments or concerns.
This creates a direct engagement with your workers and when the actual rules are implemented, they will show greater interest in abiding by them.
If you are a large company, you can create a personalized group which acts as a health and safety committee during this pandemic. They can work to talk with other employees and develop plans according to the information they receive.
This not only optimizes the entire process but also improves the relationship maintained by a business and their employees, while reinforcing worker morale and reducing the feeling of worker alienation.
Step Three: Be There for Workers Who Have Fallen Sick
Alongside your preparations for mitigating the spread of the virus, you need to brace yourself for when a worker begins to show symptoms of COVID-19.
The World Health Organization has already listed the typical symptoms of COVID-19 in an affected individual on their website, which you can consult with when a worker gets sick.
If a worker reports to having a fever, feeling tired, and suffering from dry cough along with a few other relevant symptoms of the coronavirus, you should grant them a sick leave immediately. You should also separate that individual from interacting with other members of your workforce.
Once you have reduced the possibility of them spreading the disease in your workplace, you should contact an occupational health specialist to diagnose your worker.
The mortality rate of the virus isn’t significant for healthy and young individuals but can be fatal for older persons who are patients of chronic diseases.
Since there is no exclusive treatment that can be provided to your workers, the best thing you can do for them is to respect their wishes, offer them paid sick leave, and ensure that their working positions at the office is reserved for them until they return.
You can also keep in contact with them digitally to know if they feel better or require anything.
Step Four: Update Information and Develop Contingency Plans
As a business owner, manager or supervisor, your responsibility is to always be well-informed on new developments in both your business and the economy.
You need to keep in contact with local health administrators, read on articles and information published by the national government, and update your business practices accordingly.
Since the economy is rapidly changing, you might find new information constantly distributed to different organizations and occupations.
Therefore, you need to be able to distinguish between a variety of information while also promptly publishing it to your workers.
With a large business, HR usually takes on the role of distributing relevant information to employees. The corona pandemic has made such a role more immediate and important to maintain.
Other than consulting with relevant sources of information, it is paramount that you use the data you have available on the business to prepare yourself for future unforeseeable circumstances.
If you are a business that has never attempted to transfer into a digitalized workforce, you can build plans to do so in case of emergencies. This ensures that your business continues to function even at a time of economic disaster.
Small businesses can simultaneously draw up their own contingency plans. They can work out how to rapidly improvise their business structure when something unexpected occurs. Furthermore, they can build long-term goals by considering potential changes they can make on their existing business model.
Step Five: Allocate Information and Resources Based on Occupation
Your national government will already have a set of rules to which your business must abide by. The information you need to consider, however, is one that is relevant to your business activities.
If you are operating a retail store, for instance, you will have to search for the information related to retail companies issued by your respective government.
By looking up this information, you will understand if you are working in compliance with official regulation and advice. This not only helps you get a clearer understanding of how to protect your workers but also ensures that you do not get in trouble with the law.
Created on Jun 15th 2020 16:25. Viewed 321 times.