Late last year, the world was shocked by the discovery of a virus that can cause a pandemic. This newly discovered strain of coronavirus is the COVID-19. The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention warned the public that this virus will likely continue to spread around the world. Now, what can employers do to ensure the safety of their workforce? Before we dive into that topic, let us get to know more about this virus.
According to the World Health Organization, Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 is the infectious disease that was most recently discovered coronavirus. The most common signs of coronavirus infection include:
There are some people who become infected with the coronavirus. However, they do not develop any symptoms and don’t feel well. WHO furthermore stated that most people (about 80%) who get infected recover without special treatment. Unfortunately, around 1 out of every 6 people who get COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.
The coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China has spread to different countries, has sickened 89,000 people, and claimed more than 3,000 deaths. Governments from all around the world have shut their borders and imposed mandatory quarantines. Because of the prevalence of coronavirus in some countries, travel bans were also imposed. Aside from its impact on the lives of people, the coronavirus outbreak has also affected businesses and organizations.
Employers have the responsibility and obligation to ensure the safety and welfare of their employees at work. There are companies who have already taken precautions like limiting travel to countries that have a high number of people diagnosed with coronavirus. With the spread of coronavirus, it is important that employers know what to do to protect the health of their employees. Employers should carry out a risk assessment to identify the risk of a coronavirus at work and implement the necessary steps to minimize the risk of an outbreak.
Even though the safety of employees is important, employers should also bear in mind to take precautions in a proper way. To prevent stigma and discrimination in the workplace, it is critical that employers tread lightly in the determination of risk based on race or country of origin. Here is a guide for employers to use now to help them plan, prepare, and respond to coronavirus:
Employees who have signs and symptoms of acute respiratory illness should stay home and take a rest. Those who have fever (38.0 C) or any other symptoms should not come to work until they are free of the symptoms. Employees should inform their managers when they are sick and when they are not able to report to work.
Employers should ensure that their sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance especially in these times. Employers make sure that your employees are aware of your sick leave policies and that they know what to do when they use it. Do not require your employees who are sick to obtain a healthcare provider’s note to confirm or validate their sickness. Medical offices and healthcare facilities may be busy with other tasks and may not be able to provide such documentation. Furthermore, employers should be aware that many employees may have to stay at home to take care of sick family members.
The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention recommends that employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms should be separated from the rest of the employees. Sick employees should immediately go home to properly rest.
Employers should encourage employees to regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Provide adequate tissues and hand sanitizers near the bathroom. As much as possible, inform employees to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth. This is because the hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
Conduct a travel history survey to all employees. Managers should help monitor through vacation leaves of the employees. If traveling outside the country, employees should indicate the exact place they are traveling to. Sick employees who will be traveling to another country should follow the company’s policy for obtaining medical care or overseas medical assistance company to assist them in finding a healthcare provider in that country. Employees should also notify their managers regarding future travel so that the company can prepare for necessary coronavirus precautions for those employees who will be coming back to work.
During these times, employers should take precautionary measures to ensure the safety of employees. They should make sure that the work environment is safe and clean to prevent the spread of contagious diseases. If you’re looking for a healthcare provider that would help prevent illnesses while ensuring a safe and healthy workplace, Gurmu OccMed Svs can help you. They provide quality occupational medical services for companies and organizations. To schedule an appointment, visit 500 Greenfield, Ave, Hanford, CA or call us at (559) 587-5587.