The Coronavirus known as COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on media outlets around the world. We’re all being bombarded with hundreds of reports each day detailing just how much of a threat COVID-19 is to our society. And that threat is now taking shape in an economic capacity – with businesses forced to consider the impact of Coronavirus on their operations.
If you’ve begun considering how to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 in your workplace, you’re on the right track. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to ensure good working environments that protect team members from infectious disease or unhygienic operations.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some tips to improve your workplace in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and and number of considerations to take when preparing your business for Coronavirus.
There are a number of things employers can promote to employees, ensuring good health and hygiene, such as;
Allow staff to take adequate time away from the office if ill
Team members call in sick all the time, it’s a part of life – especially during winter. But as we witness an unprecedented growth in thus infectious virus, employers should allow and encourage a culture that allows their staff to take adequate time away from the office when they are ill.
Now isn’t the time to take a head strong approach to employee absenteeism – from a dollars and cents perspective, having an employee carry and introduce a virus into your workplace can have serious consequences in revenue generating ability/workload.
While having an employee away from the office for up to two weeks can be a hard pill to swallow, even more difficult would be having half your workforce infected by a single employee.
Signs that you should have a conversation with an employee as to whether they should be at work;
- Fever or signs of a fever are present in the individual
- Employees are seen to be sneezing, sniffly or coughing regularly
- Employees are caring for contaminated family members
While these symptoms are connected to COVID-19, it is advised to take these precautions for all severe illnesses.
Often times, it can be difficult to stay atop of employee illnesses, that’s why fostering an environment of open communication is key when mitigating spread of infectious viruses in the workplace.
Giving staff ample opportunity to sanitise
It is recommended that employers lead by example and demonstrate respiratory and hygienic etiquette.
Some tips on fostering promoting sanitisation are:
- Provide tissues and disinfectant wipes at public use work stations or common areas such as kitchens, bathrooms and meeting rooms.
- Provide access to alcohol based hand sanitisers
- Promote hygienic etiquette by placing posters encouraging cleanliness, avoiding work when sick and cough/sneeze etiquette in high visibility areas
- Provide soap and water at all relevant locations in your workplace
- Perform regular environmental cleaning for all frequently torched surfaces, such as; workstations, countertops, doorknobs and reception areas.
- Provide disposable wipes that are easily accessed by staff
Implement a policy outlining your stance of workplace hygiene
If you don’t already have one, now may be a great time to create a policy outlining your businesses attitudes to workplace and personal hygiene. This needn’t be the longest policy you’ll ever create, but it helps staff to understand what is expected of them, plus it makes it much easier to enforce something which is already stated in black and white.
This policy could also state your stance on working from home during periods where viruses and diseases are prone to spreading through airborne means.
Some other items you may want to outline your stance on;
- Advice for employees undergoing travel during times of a global pandemic
- What employees must do when they believe themselves to carry an infectious virus
- What employees should do if a family member carries infectious viruses
- How to obtain medical care if travelling for work
Encourage cleanliness in bathrooms, communal eating areas and work stations
Stopping the spread of infectious disease is easily preventable, by adding a few small precautionary items to your workplace culture will ensure an overall health for the workplace.
Plan for the worst, making sure your business is ready
It’s important for business owners and senior stakeholders to understand their priorities when facing a potential worldwide epidemic, whether its considering how to protect staff, a supply chain or keeping to production timelines, there’s a number of considerations to think about when preparing for a worst case scenario.
Whether it’s an informal discussion between key staff, or a documented approach – here are some things to consider when preparing for Coronavirus
- Identify your business objective; is it to
- Reduce transmission among staff
- Protect frontline staff with high risks of exposure
- Protecting staff with underlying medical conditions
- Maintaining business operations
- Minimise effects to the rest of the supply chain
- Disease severity in your areas of operation
- Impact of disease on employees – especially those most vulnerable
- Approach to increased absenteeism
- How to monitor and respond to employees
- Cross training employees to keep critical business functions operating smoothly
- Preparations for changes to how you deliver goods and services, and an approach to changing business practices in response to disease (ie identifying alternative suppliers, temporary suspension of auxiliary services)
- How to addresses the safety of staff spread across multiple locations – considering giving local managers the authority to take appropriate actions to mitigate risk
- How to remain up to date with local and state government updates
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