There is only so much that is currently known about the coronavirus disease, otherwise known as COVID-19. It is a respiratory illness that can be rapidly spread from person to person. The outbreak began in China but has spread internationally creating a pandemic.
With an ongoing pandemic that has no known end in sight, there are many things to consider especially for businesses. Companies need to think through all the measures that could be implemented today or in the future. A prevention plan needs to be set in place.
Maybe you already have a plan to a crisis like this, but it’s not quite what you expected, or maybe you had no plan in place at all. Developing a plan is not difficult, but it can take time and be subject to change.
To help in this crisis, here is a prevention plan for businesses and companies in response to COVID-19:
First and foremost, you need to address specific risks for each employee. Pay attention to what the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is saying about the virus. Combine it with the knowledge you have of your work site.
There are a lot of important questions that need to be addressed. How can the disease spread at work? Who is at a high risk of contracting the disease?
CDC recommendations include social distancing. This concept should be an adamant part of your prevention plan. The goal if to limit direct contact with people by having them remain at least six feet apart.
Social distancing calls for answers to even more questions. Who has regular contact with others? How can we stay six feet apart during work hours? Who deals with clients and other outsiders?
By assessing the risks, you can categorize your employees. Map out which employees have the lowest and highest risks of getting the disease and adapt to have everyone at a lower risk. Define and address these hazards.
Identifying general measures can help prevent the spread of the disease at work. Once you have figured out who is more at risk of exposure, you can plan on how to prevent it. Begin with things that help the entirety of your staff.
It’s important to keep your employees educated about the disease including knowing the symptoms and how to keep the immune system strong. Suggest that employees closely monitor themselves so that they can report any illness or symptoms. Keep your employees home if they are sick for some time.
Don’t make your employees feel as if they cannot miss work if necessary. This will only aide in the spread of the disease. With CDC guidance, they can have an idea of when it is okay to come back to work.
As a company, you may have to change work policies such as time off and health insurance.
A prevention plan limits spread by training and reminding employees how to stay in good health. The CDC guidelines on how to practice good hygiene include:
Practicing hygiene is not just an individual thing. Cleaning the workplace regularly is important.
You should sanitize touch surfaces which can include a lot of things in an office. Keep sanitary supplies stocked and distribute them to your employees. These items include disinfectant wipes, masks, and tissues.
Once the entire workplace has been covered in your plan, it is a good idea to focus on specific modifications and responsibilities. Some things will apply to certain jobs and tasks.
Some jobs may not have to change as much. This could be because they sit always from others and don’t have to speak with clients or other outsiders in person. However, some jobs do require a lot of face to face contact.
A job with too much exposure does not follow CDC recommendations like social distancing. It is up to you to change that.
Here are some questions you will need to ask yourself: Can your clients be reached without in-person contact? Can your employees be moved further apart? Can employees use their equipment instead of sharing?
Everyone in the workplace should be working to keep everyone safe from the virus. Some may have to fill in for those who are sick and others will have to take on cleaning duties.
Establishing responses for the possibility that infection will be brought into the workplace is something that must be planned. The ease of spread should make you believe that this is a high possibility.
In your prevention plan, you must include what the protocols are if one of your employees tests positive for the virus. It is also possible someone who visited the workplace tested positive for COVID-19. Try to reduce the number of visitors as much as possible to avoid this scenario.
It is also possible that an immediate family member of an employee could test positive for the virus, what will you do then? People who have been exposed, even if they do not have symptoms, should stay away from the workplace.
If an employee is exposed at work, send them to a doctor or home immediately. Take time to decontaminate the workplace so the virus does not spread.
According to CDC recommendations, a person who has been exposed or tests positive for the virus, should self isolate at home for 14 days at the least. Employers should stay in touch to decide when it is safe enough to come back to work.
The most important part of your prevention plan needs to be communication. Have everyone be brutally honest about how they are feeling to ensure everyone is in a safe environment. Communication can be a detrimental part of preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Under severe conditions, the virus could limit a lot of operations for your business. These conditions could be your employees being reduced to half, your clients backing out, not receiving enough inventory, etc.
During these times the government varies on regulations depending on what state or city you are in. Consider the possibilities of the government ordering closures or implementing curfews that could affect the workplace. This could negatively impact your workers and the shipment of your products.
Keeping your employees in mind should be a major priority. How will you pay them if the government mandates closure? How can you help in these situations when it comes to financial and insurance arrangements?
Above all, maintaining a healthy environment will be a highly important part of your prevention plan. This includes educating employees about reducing the spread of COVID-19 and following work and CDC recommendations, among other things.
Identifying a workplace coordinator who can take on the responsibility of COVID-19 issues. This includes working out the policies and practices during this time.
It’s important to create flexible and supportive policies and practices for the health and safety of the staff. Sick leave policies should be flexible and consistent with health guidelines. During this time, implementing policies where employees can stay home to care for a sick family member is recommended.
Employers that do not offer sick leave should draft emergency sick leave policies to reduce the possible spread of the virus. Employers should allow staff to leave when symptoms appear and not require a positive test for evidence. Testing and getting results take time, your employee could be spreading the disease before testing positive.
Respiratory hygiene is a must in the workplace. You can support the etiquette of respiratory hygiene for all people in the workplace by:
A COVID-19 prevention plan is not required by law, but with the rapid spread of this disease, it is in your best interest to make one. The coronavirus disease needs to be taken seriously. The health and safety of everyone is on the line.
A prevention plan will prepare you for difficult times that could be ahead. Preparation and execution need to be put in place for the work environment.
The guidance from this plan is just the beginning. To implement it correctly for your company, be as detailed as possible. Get all of the hard questions answered now so you know what to do when they come up.
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