Recent news reports surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) have caused concern among employers and the general public. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said there is likely no way to stop the virus from spreading, it must be stressed that there is no need to panic. The National Safety Council agrees with CDC recommendations and urges employers to take basic precautions to curb the transmission of all infections, including cold and influenza viruses.
On January 31, NSC issued a statement regarding COVID-19, including measures employers and employees can implement right now that follow guidelines prescribed by OSHA and CDC. You may have many of these policies already in place. Now is the time to remind your workforce to be vigilant and practice them.
Hygiene and health is key
As many employees know, particularly in the healthcare and hospitality industries, practicing standard sanitation and hygiene regimens is a top priority.
- Always practice proper sterilization and infection control measures
- Encourage frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water
- Hand sanitizer, with at least 60% alcohol content, is a secondary option
- Remind everyone to keep noses and mouths covered when coughing or sneezing
- Avoid touching these areas, as well as in and around the eyes, with unwashed hands
- Ensure employees have access to PPE, including disposable gloves and masks if needed
- Everyone who has not yet had a flu shot should get one as soon as possible
Sick employees should stay home
Employees who are sick should not report to work and should avoid contact with others. If employees have any concerns about COVID-19, advise them to see a doctor for evaluation immediately. Employees who have been sick should be fully recovered before returning to work.
Travel safety and telecommuting
The U.S. Department of State has advised against all travel to China where COVID-19 originated. Employers should suspend business travel to China and be aware of other areas identified with an increase in cases (such as South Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran and elsewhere). Daily situation reports on the spread of the COVID-19 are available here. Remind employees who have recently traveled to these areas to inform supervisors or Human Resources immediately.
If you have employees who are able to work safely and effectively from home or another remote location, consider allowing them to do so.
NSC will continue to closely monitor developments surrounding COVID-19 and keep our members informed. The safety of workers is employers’ most vital task. For more information about the virus, please visit the CDC, OSHA or WHO.
Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 800-621-7619. National Safety Council, 1121 Spring Lake Dr, Itasca, IL, 60143-3201