There’s definitely no shortage of advice at the moment on measures to be taken surrounding COVID-19. From armchair warriors to medical literature that rivals the tomes of War and Peace, it’s hard to know where to look for trustworthy advice and who to trust.
So we’ve put together a guide using only longstanding and trusted sources to give you an overview to get you started. Believe us – there’s plenty of other sites and sources we dismissed putting this together but most of this information has been taken from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention site.
Many employers will have reduced the number of staff on-site wherever possible, so where workers can be eliminated from the site, this needs to be the first course of action. Where that isn’t possible, your critical workers will look to you for clear guidance on how to operate under current circumstances.
If you or your employees need to know what is the recommended interim action to take if you have workers with exposure to Coronavirus, here’s a pretty good place to start:
Can I Still Work If I’ve Been Exposed To COVID-19?
To enable you to continue to operate the essential functions of your business, CDC advises that “critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community”
What Is Classed As Exposure To COVID-19?
This could feel like a can of worms as merely being out and about could potentially be classed as exposure. Being more pragmatic though, CDC class a potential exposure as being exposed to a household contact or being within 6 feet of a person with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.
The period to be particularly vigilant with is the 48 hours following contact. During this period, many people won’t yet be displaying symptoms so this is the suggested protocol to ensure processes are followed during their work shift…
These are the absolute basics suggested by CDC to ensure your staff are vigilant with processes:
- Employees should not share headsets or other objects that are near mouth or nose.
- Employers should increase the frequency of cleaning commonly touched surfaces.
- Employees and employers should consider pilot testing the use of face masks to ensure they do not interfere with work assignments.
- Employers should work with facility maintenance staff to increase air exchanges in the room.
- Employees should physically distance when they take breaks together.
- Stagger breaks and don’t congregate in the break room.
- Don’t share food or utensils.
How To Minimise The Spread Of COVID-19 When You Have Asymptomatic Workers
As with any clinical processes, common sense needs to be exercised at all times, but if everyone follows these measures, it will help ensure the spread is reduced and the entire workforce is vigilant.
Pre-Screen: The temperature of employees needs to be measured and symptoms assessed prior to them starting work. The temperature checks should ideally happen before workers enter the site.
Regular Monitoring: Provided there isn’t a temperature or any presenting symptoms, workers should adhere to the occupational health program in place and self-monitor under the supervision of their superiors.
Wear A Mask: A face mask should be worn by the employee at all times while in the workplace. They need to do this for 14 days after their last exposure. Face masks can be issued by employers, but in the event of a shortage of face masks, employers can approve cloth face coverings supplied by employees.
Social Distance: Wherever possible, the employee should adopt social distancing protocol and keep a distance of 6 feet between themselves and other people in the workplace.
Disinfect And Clean Work Spaces: All areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly and routinely. This applies to all shared electronic equipment and any surfaces people share contact of.
What If An Employee Becomes Sick During The Day?
They need to be sent home immediately. All surfaces they have come into contact with need to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected promptly. A list of workers will need to be compiled to include any people who have been in contact with the ill employee. This needs to include all contact during the time the employee was showing symptoms as well as for the 2 full days prior to symptoms being displayed.
All people on site having close contact within 6 feet of the employee during this time are to be classed as exposed. They will then need to follow the measures in this guidance too.
Where Can I Get More Information On COVID-19 Protocol In The Workplace?
All employers need to ensure that their workers are briefed and familiarised with current processes. They need to be kept informed at all times of suspected cases and documenting exposure to workers who are infected with the virus.
A clear log should be kept of the measures taken with all cases and the ensuing action the collective workers took. Employers need to be accountable for ensuring the recommendations in the Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 are implemented to help minimise the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
Who Is Classed As A Critical Worker Under COVID-19 Guidance?
This interim guidance relates to aiding critical infrastructure workers. Many businesses will have staff who are crucial to the survival of their business, but the official remit prioritises those deemed critical in terms of society still managing to function.
They may differ in some areas – and from week to week as the terms of the lockdowns are fluid while the country navigates its way through all of this, so be sure to stay up to date with legislation in your pertinent area. If you or your employees feel they don’t fall within these categories, clarification will need to be sought on whether they really need to be on site.
The goal is to minimise people congregating wherever possible and as employers entrusted with the safeguarding of your workers whilst on site, it is your duty to be clear about this and enforce it.
The critical workers in the UK taken from the current and official Gov.UK guidance are classified as:
Health And Social Care
This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributors of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.
Education and childcare
This includes childcare, support and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.
Key public services
This includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.
Local and national government
This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response or delivering essential public services, such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms-length bodies.
Food and other necessary goods
This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).
Public safety and national security
This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.
This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.
Utilities, communication and financial services
This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.
How Can Martek Help?
Whatever your need, we have you covered.
During the interim, and in preparation for return to work scenarios, Martek Lifecare has a range of PPE available for employers.
Whatever your requirement, get in touch today and a member of the team will be able to guide you through the available options ahead of the “return to work” rush.