With the spread of COVID-19 (i.e., the illness caused by the novel coronavirus), you’re probably wondering how to flatten the curve and prevent an outbreak in your own workplace - and rightly so. As an employer, you are obligated to maintain a safe, healthy, work environment for your team, as per certain workplace laws such as the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the OSH Act), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA). To protect your office, it is crucial to know what the virus is, how it spreads, and what can be done to prevent it.
So what is the coronavirus?
It is a contagious, genetically-modified virus with flu-like symptoms, which as yet does not have a cure and can thus be fatal. It was first detected in a Chinese lab in Wuhan in the latter half of 2019, with the first case appearing in the United States on January 21, 2020. Since then, the disease is said to have infected more than a million people within the States alone.
How does it spread?
The virus is purported to spread through the transfer of droplets from an infected party through coughing or sneezing. These droplets may land on the hands, mouths, or noses of people nearby and be inhaled or internalized, immediately infecting them.
If there’s no cure, what can possibly be done?
Prevent, prevent, prevent. With governments beginning to reopen the economy, the landscape of the workplace is going to be significantly different as we all learn to live with this virus. The best way to reopen your workplace is to ensure that all your employees take precautions to avoid the virus. Educate them on what is known of the virus and list the preventive measures that they should take.
limiting contact with public property
practicing social distancing
encouraging the use of hand sanitizers or wipes
using medical masks in closed spaces like elevators or corridors
are a few ways to proactively prevent contracting the virus in your office.
You can’t win them all, however. Some of your staff might already be infected or exhibit parallel symptoms. In this instance, ask those employees to work remotely or stay at home, particularly if they have recently travelled to or live in high-risk areas. You can also establish or reevaluate a written policy and response plan regarding contagious and communicable diseases, update your office layout, and enforce health and hygiene protocols.
Whatever the case, there’s no need to panic - you are not alone in the fight against this virus. Talk with your local healthcare providers and insurance experts to come up with a solution that will fit the needs of your workplace and make sure your team can keep reaching those goals in a safe, protected environment.