Life amidst a Global Pandemic - Hygiene at the heart of workplace planning
It is perhaps not too early to point out the significane of 2020 for all the wrong reasons. As many nations cautiously make their way toward relaxing Covid-19 lockdowns, many of us are starting to envision a time when we can stop working at our kitchen tables and return to the office. Yet, in the absence of a vaccine, aspects of modern workplaces will have to change if employees are to safely return to their desks. Here's a list of a well-thought-out and carefully coordinated approach that will enable the employers to maintain hygiene at the heart of the workplace but also ensure that the employees are at the best of their health and productive abilities.
1. Educating the workforce & creating awareness drives:
Clear communication is the key to having a healthy and prosperous life. So, it is the responsibility of every employer to make sure that they educate and update their employees about the different procedures and policies that the company undertakes from time to time. These procedures might include any aspect such as workplace hygiene, visitor screening methods, safety measures, remote working facility, quarantines, and business travels. They should also solicit their employees to contribute to suggestions about workplace hygiene and personal safety. This is also a way to effectively demonstrate the fact that the company premises are always safe, and every measure is taken to curb the ill-effects of the pandemic.
2. Keeping track of case developments daily
It won't be wrong to state that the coronavirus is a fluid that is spreading more devastatingly than wild-fire. Even as we pen down this article, thousands of cases are being reported globally. This has also kept the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at their feet while they need to keep rolling updates almost every other minute. As an employer, it is a part of your duty to keep track of these updates and implement them accordingly.
3. Appointing a cross-functional Corona Virus Emergency Management Team
Not every day is a day you fight a deadly pandemic. So, some level of advanced preparation is essential to ensure that the company is ready to address sudden emergencies and disasters while averting the situation. A sufficient team of EMT should comprise representatives from the HR, Legal, Communications, and the IT Departments. They should have enough authority to act swiftly and decisively to tackle a highly fluid situation such as COVID-19.
4. Reinforcement of Safety and Hygiene Practices
WHO has prescribed a few necessary preventive measures to comply with the occupational safety and health standards and rules at work. By facilitating these practices, the risk of contracting the virus or spreading the same at the workplace will be reduced substantially. Here is the list of such hygiene measures that every person should adhere to.
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects
- staying home when sick
- avoiding close contact with people who show signs of sickness
- covering coughs and sneezes with tissues of sleeves of the shoulder
- avoiding touching the mouth, nose, and eyes
- frequently washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 70% alcohol.
Every company needs to ensure that they provide adequate supplies of sanitizers, soaps, tissues, and hand-wipes for their employees alongside the no-touch disposed receptacles and sanitizer dispensers in every corner of the premises. Using disposable wipes for wiping down the commonly used surfaces must also be mandated to ensure that the norms of social distancing are maintained.
Every employer should review their cleaning operations frequently to make sure that all the surfaces which fall at the risk of getting touched often, such as countertops, workstations, door handles, keyboards, phones, elevator buttons, and so on, are routinely disinfected. However, they must ensure the cleaning personnel makes proper usage of the personal protective equipment while cleaning to avoid contracting with the virus. It is also recommended that you hire professional experts to conduct routine deep-cleaning and sanitization services to support infection prevention.
5. Encouraging Sick Employees to stay Quarantined
According to the CDC guidelines, an employer must take every step possible to encourage a sick employee to stay at home if he falls ill or gets exposed to someone infected. If any employee shows signs of fever, he must be sent home immediately. For an employee showing symptoms of acute respiratory illness, he should only rejoin the office if he doesn't show any sign for at least 24 hours.
The Parting Note
The pandemic continues to spread rapidly and globally. Even as you read this article, thousands of new outbreaks and developments are coming into the picture. So, as much as the economic uprise is concerned, nothing is more important than breaking the chain. Hence, it becomes imperative for employers to take adequate steps to ensure that their employees' lives are safe and secure, even amidst a dangerous pandemic.
Accordingly, they should communicate with the workforce regularly, take adequate safety and hygiene measures, keep at pace with every latest development of the outbreak, and make swift plans and preparations to combat sudden emergencies. Nobody can eradicate COVID-19 at the moment. However, by taking adequate safety and hygiene measures, you will surely be able to keep it from impacting your employees and associates.