The World Health Organisation (WHO) has set out guidance on how businesses and employers can help to stop the spread of the new Coronavirus disease.
How does Coronavirus spread?
When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid. Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects – such as desks, tables or telephones.
People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. If they are standing within one meter of a person with COVID-19 they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them. In other words, COVID-19 spreads in a similar way to flu.
Preventing Coronavirus in the workplace
The guidance stresses that employers should start taking these the following measures now, even if COVID-19 has not arrived in the communities where they operate:
- Make sure your workplaces are clean and hygienic
- Surfaces (e.g desks and tables) and objects (e.g telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly
- Promote regular and thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors and customers
- Put sanitizing hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace. Make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled
- Display posters promoting hand-washing
- Offer guidance from occupational health and safety officers
- Make sure that staff, contractors and customers have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water
- Promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace
- Display posters promoting respiratory hygiene. Combine this with other communication measures
- Ensure tissues are available at your workplaces, for those who develop a runny nose or cough at work, along with closed bins for hygienically disposing of them
- Advise employees and contractors to consult national travel advice before going on business trips
- Brief your employees, contractors and customers that if COVID-19 starts spreading in your community, anyone with even a mild cough or low-grade fever (37.3 C or more) needs to stay at home
- Make clear to employees that they will be able to count this time off as sick leave
For further risk management advice as an employer, please contact our team on 01302 341 344.
By Ian French CMIOSH – Risk Consultant