News

The New Normal for the Workplace

By The Medical City | May 18, 2020

As non-healthcare businesses start to operate, it is very important to ensure the safety of every employee in the workplace.


As non-healthcare businesses start to operate, it is very important to ensure the safety of every employee in the workplace. The following guidelines aim to help business owners in ensuring a healthy work environment to minimize the risk of exposure and reduce transmission of viruses among employees while maintaining  normal business operations.


Minimize Risk and Reduce Transmission among Employees

Most COVID-19 transmissions occur in the community, as such, it is very important that employers set strict guidelines for their employees to ensure that the infection does not spread within the workplace as employees go about their daily tasks.


The following should be enforced for all employees:

1. Educate employees on how they can minimize their risk and prevent spreading the infection.

  • Perform hand hygiene. Frequently wash hands with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean your hands.
  • Maintain physical distancing. Stay at least one meter away from each other at any given time in any office space.
  • Wear a face mask. Every employee, well or sick, must wear a face mask to protect those around him/her.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Practice cough etiquette. Cover your mouth and nose whenever you cough or sneeze so as to prevent the spread of droplets. Throw used tissue in the trashbin and immediately wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects. COVID-19 may be transmitted through fomites so it important to clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched such as doorknobs, light switches, keyboards, phones, etc.
  • Avoid sharing office tools. Refrain from borrowing pens, phones, and other office materials from other employees. If necessary, be sure to clean and disinfect them before and after use.

2. Employees who have a confirmed, suspected, probable, or possible COVID-19 patient at home should immediately inform their employer/supervisor and take necessary precautions.

3. Determine who among the employees are at a higher risk (elderly, those with chronic medical conditions, pregnant, etc). If these employees are critically needed at the office, ensure that there is minimal face-to-face meetings and physical distance of at least one meter is maintained if physical interaction is indeed necessary. If possible and resources are available, these high risk employees should be asked to work from home.

4. All sick employees MUST stay at home. If an employee develops symptoms while at work (fever, cough, colds, difficulty of breathing, sore throat, etc), develop a protocol for quickly separating the symptomatic employee and sending him/her for a medical evaluation.

  • If the above employee’s COVID-19 test returns positive, the employer should work with Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) to identify close contact employees in the workplace and advise them to take standard precautions and monitor for symptoms. All symptomatic contacts must be sent for COVID-19 testing.

5. Businesses must develop cleaning and disinfection protocols. All high touch surfaces must be wiped down more frequently (once every 1-2 hours). Dispensers of alcohol-based hand rubs must be abundantly available and clearly visible.

6. For employees who commute or use public transport, shifting their work hours to less busy times of the day (non-rush hour) may help in ensuring that there is no close contact during their travel to and from the office.


Maintain Healthy Business Operations

Certain measures must be put in place to make sure that business runs as usual and staff are protected from COVID-19 risks.

Here are some guidelines that may help:

1. Identify a workplace coordinator who will take charge of any COVID-19 related concerns within the workplace.

2. Implement flexible sick leaves or supportive policies and practices.

  • Make sure employees are aware of and understand the sick leave policy of the company.
  • Consider drafting non-punitive emergency sick leave policy for employees who may need to take a leave to attend to sick family members.
  • Employees should not be required to present COVID-19 test results prior to returning to work if they were not considered suspects or confirmed positive when they went on sick leave.
  • Connect employees with employee assistance program resources if any are available.

3. Protect high risk employees through supportive policies and practices.

  • Support and encourage telework options if applicable.
  • Consider offering the vulnerable workers a shift where exposure will be minimized if their physical presence is critically needed in the office.

4. Communicate supportive workplace policies and practices clearly, frequently, and through multiple methods to ensure every employee is aware and guided.

5. Assess your essential work functions.

  • Be ready to make changes as necessary.
  • Talk to business partners regarding your response efforts and best practices in ensuring normal business operations.
  • Minimize the number of employees in a shift to allow physical distancing and make work from home as an option for non-essential staff who can effectively do their tasks off-site.

6. Identify how you will operate should absenteeism spike in the workplace. At the same time, discourage having the full workforce present at the same time to allow room for physical distancing.

7. Establish policies and practices for physical distancing.

  • Consider flexible worksites and work hours.
  • Setup of work stations must allow physical distancing or avoid close contact.
  • Put in place measures to ensure that proper physical distancing is maintained between employees and customers.
  • Use signs and other visual cues to remind employees of how they can observe physical distance.
  • Implement flexible meeting options and consider online meetings as an option.
  • Limit access to common work spaces where employees are likely to congregate.
  • Prohibit handshaking.

Maintain Healthy Work Environment

Since COVID-19 may be transmitted by asymptomatic patients (carriers), businesses and employers should likewise implement the following measures to provide a safe environment for the employees and the general public:

The following measures may help improve your working environment:

1. Consider improving engineering controls in your facility.

  • Increase ventilation and ensure ventilation systems work properly.
  • Improve central air filtration and seal the edges of the filter to limit bypass.
  • Keep systems running longer, 24/7 if possible, to enhance air exchanges in the building.

2. Ensure the safety of your building water system  and devices after prolonged shutdown.

3. Provide employees, customers, and visitors what they need to prevent infection.

  • Make tissue and no-touch trash bins available.
  • Make soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers available in the workplace.
  • If possible, make touchless hand sanitizer stations available.
  • Have reminders in place to encourage hand hygiene, physical distancing, and mandate the wearing of face masks.
  • Discourage handshaking.

4. Perform routine cleaning

  • Use the recommended solution for disinfection.

  • Do not mix bleach and other cleaning and disinfecting products together as this may cause fumes that are dangerous to breathe in.
  • Frequently clean high-touch surfaces (doorknobs, light switches, keyboards, etc).
  • Have employees clean and disinfect their individual workspace before and after their shift.

By being committed to  keep the workplace safe for employees, customers, and visitors, normal business operations will be maintained. The small things we implement in the workplace can have a bigger impact in our community’s safety.


Reference:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

Safety Measures.jpg




The New Normal for the Workplace

By The Medical City ,

May 18, 2020


As non-healthcare businesses start to operate, it is very important to ensure the safety of every employee in the workplace.

As non-healthcare businesses start to operate, it is very important to ensure the safety of every employee in the workplace. The following guidelines aim to help business owners in ensuring a healthy work environment to minimize the risk of exposure and reduce transmission of viruses among employees while maintaining  normal business operations.


Minimize Risk and Reduce Transmission among Employees

Most COVID-19 transmissions occur in the community, as such, it is very important that employers set strict guidelines for their employees to ensure that the infection does not spread within the workplace as employees go about their daily tasks.


The following should be enforced for all employees:

1. Educate employees on how they can minimize their risk and prevent spreading the infection.

  • Perform hand hygiene. Frequently wash hands with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean your hands.
  • Maintain physical distancing. Stay at least one meter away from each other at any given time in any office space.
  • Wear a face mask. Every employee, well or sick, must wear a face mask to protect those around him/her.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Practice cough etiquette. Cover your mouth and nose whenever you cough or sneeze so as to prevent the spread of droplets. Throw used tissue in the trashbin and immediately wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects. COVID-19 may be transmitted through fomites so it important to clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched such as doorknobs, light switches, keyboards, phones, etc.
  • Avoid sharing office tools. Refrain from borrowing pens, phones, and other office materials from other employees. If necessary, be sure to clean and disinfect them before and after use.

2. Employees who have a confirmed, suspected, probable, or possible COVID-19 patient at home should immediately inform their employer/supervisor and take necessary precautions.

3. Determine who among the employees are at a higher risk (elderly, those with chronic medical conditions, pregnant, etc). If these employees are critically needed at the office, ensure that there is minimal face-to-face meetings and physical distance of at least one meter is maintained if physical interaction is indeed necessary. If possible and resources are available, these high risk employees should be asked to work from home.

4. All sick employees MUST stay at home. If an employee develops symptoms while at work (fever, cough, colds, difficulty of breathing, sore throat, etc), develop a protocol for quickly separating the symptomatic employee and sending him/her for a medical evaluation.

  • If the above employee’s COVID-19 test returns positive, the employer should work with Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) to identify close contact employees in the workplace and advise them to take standard precautions and monitor for symptoms. All symptomatic contacts must be sent for COVID-19 testing.

5. Businesses must develop cleaning and disinfection protocols. All high touch surfaces must be wiped down more frequently (once every 1-2 hours). Dispensers of alcohol-based hand rubs must be abundantly available and clearly visible.

6. For employees who commute or use public transport, shifting their work hours to less busy times of the day (non-rush hour) may help in ensuring that there is no close contact during their travel to and from the office.


Maintain Healthy Business Operations

Certain measures must be put in place to make sure that business runs as usual and staff are protected from COVID-19 risks.

Here are some guidelines that may help:

1. Identify a workplace coordinator who will take charge of any COVID-19 related concerns within the workplace.

2. Implement flexible sick leaves or supportive policies and practices.

  • Make sure employees are aware of and understand the sick leave policy of the company.
  • Consider drafting non-punitive emergency sick leave policy for employees who may need to take a leave to attend to sick family members.
  • Employees should not be required to present COVID-19 test results prior to returning to work if they were not considered suspects or confirmed positive when they went on sick leave.
  • Connect employees with employee assistance program resources if any are available.

3. Protect high risk employees through supportive policies and practices.

  • Support and encourage telework options if applicable.
  • Consider offering the vulnerable workers a shift where exposure will be minimized if their physical presence is critically needed in the office.

4. Communicate supportive workplace policies and practices clearly, frequently, and through multiple methods to ensure every employee is aware and guided.

5. Assess your essential work functions.

  • Be ready to make changes as necessary.
  • Talk to business partners regarding your response efforts and best practices in ensuring normal business operations.
  • Minimize the number of employees in a shift to allow physical distancing and make work from home as an option for non-essential staff who can effectively do their tasks off-site.

6. Identify how you will operate should absenteeism spike in the workplace. At the same time, discourage having the full workforce present at the same time to allow room for physical distancing.

7. Establish policies and practices for physical distancing.

  • Consider flexible worksites and work hours.
  • Setup of work stations must allow physical distancing or avoid close contact.
  • Put in place measures to ensure that proper physical distancing is maintained between employees and customers.
  • Use signs and other visual cues to remind employees of how they can observe physical distance.
  • Implement flexible meeting options and consider online meetings as an option.
  • Limit access to common work spaces where employees are likely to congregate.
  • Prohibit handshaking.

Maintain Healthy Work Environment

Since COVID-19 may be transmitted by asymptomatic patients (carriers), businesses and employers should likewise implement the following measures to provide a safe environment for the employees and the general public:

The following measures may help improve your working environment:

1. Consider improving engineering controls in your facility.

  • Increase ventilation and ensure ventilation systems work properly.
  • Improve central air filtration and seal the edges of the filter to limit bypass.
  • Keep systems running longer, 24/7 if possible, to enhance air exchanges in the building.

2. Ensure the safety of your building water system  and devices after prolonged shutdown.

3. Provide employees, customers, and visitors what they need to prevent infection.

  • Make tissue and no-touch trash bins available.
  • Make soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers available in the workplace.
  • If possible, make touchless hand sanitizer stations available.
  • Have reminders in place to encourage hand hygiene, physical distancing, and mandate the wearing of face masks.
  • Discourage handshaking.

4. Perform routine cleaning

  • Use the recommended solution for disinfection.

  • Do not mix bleach and other cleaning and disinfecting products together as this may cause fumes that are dangerous to breathe in.
  • Frequently clean high-touch surfaces (doorknobs, light switches, keyboards, etc).
  • Have employees clean and disinfect their individual workspace before and after their shift.

By being committed to  keep the workplace safe for employees, customers, and visitors, normal business operations will be maintained. The small things we implement in the workplace can have a bigger impact in our community’s safety.


Reference:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

Safety Measures.jpg



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