In this post, we will look into symptoms and other precautions to be taken inside the workplace to prevent this spread of COVID-19.
Both the employer and employee need to acquire authentic information from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), State Government to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the workplace. We need cooperation from both ends to assess the risk involved and find a solution to this problem.
We will the following topics in this post:
- Symptoms of COVID-19
- Basic Prevention Methods
- Physical modifications in the workplace
- Administrative control
- Respiratory hygiene
- Workplace hygiene
- Workplace social distancing
- Cafeteria safety measures
- Travel restrictions
Now let’s see the symptoms of COVID-19:
Symptoms of COVID-19
- Fever, cough, sore throat, and body ache with or without difficulty in breathing. Some people may lose their senses of smell and taste or may have diarrhea.
- Risk and death rate rise with age. People of any age with conditions such as high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, heart, kidney or lung disease, etc. are also at high risk.
- When an infected person coughs, sneezes laughs, or talks, small droplets containing the virus can land on the mouth, nose, or eyes, or nearby surfaces and objects.
- People can also get infected by touching such contaminated surfaces.
- A small space or without adequate ventilation with people also helps in the spread of virus.
- Sometimes the infected person does not show any symptoms can also spread the disease.
Basic 5 Prevention Methods
- Wear Mask
- Frequent Hand Wash
- Observe Respiratory Etiquette
- Maintain Social Distance
- Clean And Sanitize Workplace
- Everyone should cover their mouth and nose with a mask in public. The mask has to be consistently worn and taken off correctly.
- Respiratory etiquette should be practiced in public (cover coughs and sneezes with the arm or elbow or with tissue and disposed of in a closed bin).
- Frequent and thorough handwashing with soap and water for 40 seconds or with a sanitizer (containing at least 60% ethyl alcohol or 70% isopropyl alcohol). Handwashing with soap and water for 40 seconds is more effective than using sanitizers.
- At least 2 m of social distancing between people can minimize the risk of the spread. WHO recommends at least 10 sq.m space around each worker.
- Frequently used surfaces can also be virus contaminated. You can use 1% freshly prepared Sodium Hypochlorite solution or a solution of more than 60% ethyl alcohol to clean the surface. Alcohol-based sanitizer can be used for those surfaces that can’t be cleaned with Sodium Hypochlorite.
The above mentioned are the basic prevention method each individual should follow to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
Now let us take a look into specific areas in our workspaces to avoid infection from the COVID-19 virus.
Physical modifications in the workplace
- Structural modifications to maintain social distancing norms and ventilation.
- Installation of physical barriers like clear glass/Plexiglas/ acrylic or any other between workstations, at the reception, between other work areas, and where there is public interaction.
- Set up teams or individuals, for managing various tasks related to infection control.
- Limit visitors – Allow visitors with prior appointments only. Before entry check their Aarogya Setu status and no visitor should be allowed beyond the reception area.
- Do not use Biometric Attendance Systems but use alternate methods.
- Use no-touch thermometers at the entry to measure the temperature. All those with fever or symptoms should be asked to go back home. Maintain a separate entry and exit register and avoid crowding.
- Encourage workers with symptoms to inform their supervisor and stay at home and seek medical attention. The workers should stay home even if they have mild symptoms. Allow workers to stay at home to look after family members with COVID-19 and to self-monitor.
- Make sure that all workers and visitors sanitize their hands before entering.
- Workers and visitors must wear masks before entering and inside the office space.
- Promote the use of three-layered cloth masks as it is cost-efficient and can be reused after washing with soap and water.
- Teach everyone the correct method of wearing and taking off a mask.
- Encourage respiratory etiquette and demonstrate how to do it properly to workers.
- Provide enough tissues and covered waste bins at convenient locations.
- Regular cleaning and disinfecting of all floors, switches, entrance gates, staircase rails, workstations, tables and desks, chairs, vehicles, telephones, and other areas where people may come in contact at least twice daily, once before each shift.
- There should be a 1-hour gap between shifts for proper sanitization. Provide materials to workers to clean their workplaces.
- Clean garbage bins and surrounding areas at the end of each day with the soap solution and disinfect with 1% freshly made Sodium Hypochlorite solution. Ensure they wear gloves, masks, gowns, and boots.
- Insist on frequent cleaning of hands by workers and other visitors with soap and water or with a sanitizer.
- Place hand sanitizers at the entrance, near all touchpoints, in washrooms, and check if they are regularly refilled.
- Employees must clean their hands before and after work shifts, breaks, after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing, after using the restroom, before eating or preparing food, and after putting on, touching, or removing masks.
- Discourage touching on common surfaces like gates, staircase banisters, walls, door handles with their hands, and use one’s elbows, shoulders, or arms to open doors. Consider automatic doors and taps.
- Remove newspapers and other paper material that might come in contact with another individual.
- No sharing pens, phones, desks, offices, computers, or other work tools and equipment.
- Make contactless delivered of parcels and cashless payment systems inside as well as outside the office.
- Use packaged water and disposable cups.
- Make a habit of not touching one’s nose, mouth, or eyes often.
- Spraying people with disinfectants is harmful and not recommended.
Workplace social distancing
- Maintain a distance of 2 m between various work areas and other spaces in the workspace. Mark areas around individual workspaces with visual indicators like floor tape, cones, etc.
- Reduce the no. of people in a building and maintain space in common places like entrances, exits, lifts, cafeterias, stairs, and lobbies, etc.
- Ensure at least 2 m distance is maintained between all individuals. Use signs, colour marks, or coloured tape on the floor to indicate where to stand. Use announcements, signage, and visual cues to promote social distancing.
- Limit access to common areas like cafeterias, locker rooms, washrooms, etc.
No group recreational activities.
- Prohibit touching, handshaking, and hugging, or any other form of physical touch.
- Deliver services remotely and use cashless payments.
- Resort to virtual meetings and cancel all non-essential meetings. Avoid gatherings as possible if unavoidable, minimize the no. of people.
- Advise people not to attend if they feel unwell. Hold meetings in open spaces and provide masks, tissues, and sanitizers and ensure social distancing and frequent hand sanitization.
- Flexible worksites, e.g. work from home, teleworking, and flexible work hours like staggered shifts, split teams, an alternate day working, or extra shifts.
- For jobs requiring people’s collaboration, make small teams with fixed workers. Minimize contact between workers of different teams.
- Make all documentation and communications like bills, invoices, etc. online.
- Stairs should be preferred over lifts and restrict the no. of people in lifts. Sanitize all lifts twice daily.
- Reception and dispatch of supplies should be done during off-hours. If possible, disinfect it before using them. Limit the no. of workers for loading and unloading. Discourage outside workers from entering your office.
Cafeteria safety measures
- If possible it should be discontinued and packed lunches should be made encouraged to eat at their desks. If it’s not possible, discontinue self-service.
- Use disposable cutlery and crockery, if possible.
- Adjust meal times and ensure the distance between workers and tables.
- No eating in groups and sharing of food and utensils.
- Food handlers should frequently sanitize hands and wear masks.
- Clean and sanitize the dining area twice daily.
- Avoid non-essential travel.
- Do not allow employees who are at high risk of serious illness to travel.
- Provide the employee with hand sanitizer. Make sure to wear mask and take all basic infection control measures and avoid loitering, avoid touching surfaces, and avoid crowded places.
- Employees who become sick while travelling or on temporary assignment understand that they should notify their supervisor.
To keep the spread of COVID-19 in check both employer, employees, and all staff members need to practice these preventive measures. As a result, it will make our workspace safer from any future virus infections like COVID-19.
With that, we have come to the end of this post on Workplace guide to Covid-19. Let us know your views in our comment section below.