The great ‘unlock 4.0’ experiment has begun in India. And make no mistake about it – it is an experiment. Back in April, I wrote an article in which I discussed the possible reasons for India’s low Covid-19 infection rate and mortality rate. It is September now and it is not the case anymore. The number of infected cases in India is increasing sharply on a daily basis.
The government, however, has decided to lift the nationwide lockdown, as it is no longer feasible to restrict economic activities across the country. This has put business owners in a difficult situation. They want to reopen their businesses, as they have suffered substantial financial losses over the past six months. At the same time, they are apprehensive about the possibility of person-to-person transmission among their employees.
The good news is that you can reduce the risk of person-to-person viral transmission at your workplace to a great extent by following the guidelines recommended by the WHO and the CDC.
Guidelines for Businesses to Prevent Coronavirus Transmission
Flexible Work Practices
Not all kinds of work require the physical presence of your employees. Thanks to the advancements in telecommuting technology, employees can easily connect with each other and their supervisors as and when they need, even if they work from home.
You can follow a two-pronged strategy to reduce the risk of person-to-person transmission at your workplace. First, make a list of employees whose work can be done remotely and allow them to work from home. Second, introduce staggered shifts so that you can limit the number of people working together to a great extent.
Avoid in-person meetings and interviews to the extent possible. Use teleconferencing tools for all your meetings, interviews, and group discussions.
Prepare Your Workplace
Install physical barriers at your workplace to make sure your employees do not sit too close to each other. Set up designated entrances for employees belonging to different departments so that they do not have to cross into other areas. Close down community spaces to avoid unnecessary interactions between your employees.
Keep Your Workplace Clean
Disinfect all the furniture and equipment at your workplace – including computers, phones, cubicles, desks, tables, doors, and switches – at least twice a day. Research shows that coronavirus can stay on these surfaces for days. So, disinfecting these surfaces at regular intervals is the best way to reduce the risk of viral transmission at your workplace.
Install liquid soap and sanitizer dispensers at your workplace and make sure those dispensers are refilled regularly. Put up posters and signs promoting the practice of hand washing and using hand sanitizers and encourage your employees to follow these practices.
Make sure that tissues, face masks, gloves, and protective equipment are available to those who need them.
Make multiple copies of WHO and CDC COVID-19 guidelines and hand one to each of your employees so that they know what they should and should not do to reduce the risk of person-to-person transmission at the workplace.
Daily Temperature Checks
Conduct temperature checks on all your employees on a daily basis. These checks should be done privately so that your employees do not feel embarrassed or stigmatized. The person who conducts these checks must wear protective equipment and maintain social distancing guidelines.
If any employee exhibits even the mildest symptoms of COVID-19 infection, they must be sent home immediately and asked to stay home until they make a full recovery.
Isolating Sick Employees
Make sure you have a designated area at your workplace for safely isolating sick employees. If any of your employees happen to exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 infection (cough, fever, fatigue, sore throat, loss of taste, or loss o smell), they must be isolated immediately.
After isolating the employee, contact the nearest healthcare center or call the local COVID-19 helpline to transport the employee to a medical facility. Once the employee is transported to a healthcare center, clean and disinfect your workplace thoroughly.
Guidelines for Employees to Prevent the Risk of COVID-19 Transmission
- Avoid shaking hands, patting the back, hugging, or touching your co-workers for any reason. Remember – the closer you are to a person, the higher are the chances of spreading or contracting the COVID-19 virus – or any other virus or bacteria for that matter. It is advisable to maintain a distance of at least three to six feet from your co-workers.
- Thoroughly wash your hands using soap and water before eating, after using the restroom, after blowing your nose, and after touching any object or equipment that might have been touched by other people at your workplace. In case soap and water are not available, disinfect your hands using a sanitizer which contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Practice good respiratory hygiene. Wear a face mask as and when needed. Use a tissue when you need to sneeze, cough, or blow your nose. Throw the used tissue in a closed bin. If tissues are not available, sneeze or cough into the crook of your arm.
- Do not, for any reason, touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. Even if you need to wash your face, wash your hands first and then wash your face.
- Avoid borrowing your co-workers’ pen, mobile phone, and other such personal items. Similarly, avoid using their desk or equipment to the extent possible.
- Avoid taking the bus or train to work. Even if you do not have a car, you can carpool with your co-workers. In case you live close to your workplace, walk or bike to your workplace.
- If you exhibit any of the aforementioned symptoms, inform your supervisor or employer immediately and quarantine yourself at home. In case you test positive, you should stay home until you are completely cured and get back to work only after you test negative.
Lead a healthy lifestyle. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and nuts, exercise every day, get at least 8 hours of sleep, and take immune-boosting natural remedies. It is the best way to protect yourself and your family from the threat of COVID-19 infection.