Photo: Daily News
Arm Them With The Necessary Infection-Fighting Tools
You could tell your employees to wash their hands more or wear face masks all you like but the best way to make sure they actually do it is to provide them with said hand soap and face masks.
In our own office, our boss graciously brought us face masks, made sure we had lots of hand soap and hand sanitiser to keep ourselves clean and protected.
This is important within the office, but for employees in lines of business such as deliveries, providing them with these is even more important so they can stay safe on the go.
For something a little extra, stocking your office pantry up with some vitamins and over-the-counter preventive meds is nice thought too.
Spring Clean The Office…As Often As Possible
If your office has the privilege of having in-house cleaners that can clean anytime, that’s great!
For those of us without, we have to make do with keeping our personal and shared spaces in the office clean on our own.
Disinfecting desks, shared tables and seats, the water cooler, and washing any shared utensils properly before and after use can help lower the risk of spreading anything.
Suit Up If You’re In F&B
For those working in the F&B sector, a simple face mask and hand soap isn’t quite enough as you’re always in contact with food for customers.
I believe that it’s extremely important that all your employees maintain good hygiene and are given the appropriate gear for food handling like hairnets, gloves (that are changed regularly), face masks or spit guard masks, clean aprons, etc.
This is so that any sick employee with still-hidden symptoms won’t pass on the virus to customers.
If you suspect that an employee may be unwell, you should send them home immediately and disinfect the place (especially in areas where food is prepared) before resuming operations.
Additionally, you should make sure your premises are decently equipped with hand soap and sanitisers for customers, and the area is always cleaned properly each day, as often as possible.
Keep Your Employees In The Country (Or State)
For larger companies that usually send employees out of the state or country for work, now’s probably not the best time to keep doing so, and large companies like Facebook, Razer and LG have outright restricted employee travel to China.
If you already have employees overseas who are coming home soon, you should advise them to get a health check-up before returning to the office (and allow them to claim the expenses from the company, if that’s not already the standard).
Specifically, in the case that any of your employees are returning from China, the health check should be mandatory.
Monitor The Situation At All Times
Nonetheless, while you may have taken all the necessary precautions, there still may be a chance that one of your employees falls sick anyway.
So, employers should familiarise themselves with and understand the symptoms of coronavirus infection, keep an eye on employees (especially those who are known to have weaker immune systems), and reinforce sick leave policies.
If you suspect an employee is sick, you should speak to them in private and ask them to take a medical leave to visit a doctor and recuperate.
Get ‘Em Educated
Employers should take the initiative to compile reputable sources that can provide information on coronavirus (symptoms, how it spreads, prevention, etc.), as some employees may not bother to do so themselves.
However, it’s advised that employers do not give out their own medical opinions or misinformation that may incite unnecessary panic amongst employees.
And while providing employees with the necessary tools to protect themselves from coronavirus is key, there’s next to no point in doing so if employees don’t know how to use them, so employers can hold a short demo to showcase the proper use of face masks, for example. (Coloured side facing out, white side facing in, by the way.)
You can help prevent yourself from getting and spreading the Wuhan coronavirus–and other respiratory illnesses–by following these steps:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. (Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives) Use 70% alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or shirt sleeve, not your hands.Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.Stay home when you are sick.
How Coronavirus is Spread
The CDC states[iv] that coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:
• the air by coughing and sneezing• close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands• touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands• rarely, fecal contamination
Currently, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably 2019-nCoV is spreading between people. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with 2019-nCoV and investigations are ongoing.
How to help protect from the Coronavirus
The best way to protect yourself is avoid being exposed to the virus. The CDC always recommends[v] simple everyday preventative steps to help prevent the spread of respiratory virus, including:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces• Stay home when you are sick• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
As with all infectious diseases, good hygiene can play a role in controlling its spread. However, the most important public health recommendation is that people report to the nearest health facility if they develop any symptoms indicative of Coronavirus. Call the office of your health care provider before you go and tell them about your travel and your symptoms. They will give you instructions on how to get care without exposing other people to your illness.