How to safeguard the workplace against Covid-19 | The Daily Star
09:12 PM, May 01, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:38 PM, May 01, 2020

How to safeguard the workplace against Covid-19

As the ongoing nationwide shutdown steps into the sixth week in Bangladesh, the government has eased restrictions allowing factories to reopen amid the risk of wider transmission of the virus.

As of Tuesday, around half of the total 7,602 apparel factories -- mostly in Covid-19 hotspots Narayanganj and Gazipur -- have already resumed operations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has already given a set of guidelines on ways to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace. WHO says the low-cost measures below will help prevent the spread of the virus in the workplace.

SIMPLE WAYS TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF COVID-19 IN WORKPLACE

  • Make sure your workplaces are clean and hygienic: Surfaces (desks and tables) and objects (telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly.
  • Promote regular and thorough hand-washing: Put sanitising hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace and make sure those are refilled regularly. Display posters promoting hand-washing
  • Promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace: Display posters promoting respiratory hygiene. Ensure that face masks or paper tissues are available in your workplaces for those who develop a runny nose or cough at work, along with closed bins for hygienically disposing of the tissues. Advise employees and contractors to consult travel advice before trips. 



HOW TO MEET COVID-19 RISKS WHEN ORGANISING MEETINGS OR EVENTS

BEFORE the meeting or event

  •  Develop a preparedness plan to prevent infection at your meeting or event. The plan should include:
  •  Replacing face-to-face meetings with teleconferences or online events 
  •  Scaling down the number of meetings and participants
  •  Pre-ordering sufficient supplies and materials, including tissues, hand sanitisers and surgical masks.
  •  Developing a response plan in case someone shows the virus symptoms. This should include a room to isolate the patient and transport to take them back home. You can plan in advance with your healthcare provider.



DURING the meeting or event

  • Provide information both orally and in writing on Covid-19 and the measures taken to make the event safe.
  • Display dispensers of alcohol-based hand rubs prominently around the venue.
  • If possible, arrange seats so that participants are at least one metre apart.
  • Open windows and doors whenever possible to make sure the venue is well ventilated.
  • If anyone starts to feel unwell, follow your preparedness plan or call health hotlines.



AFTER the meeting or event

  • Collect the contact details of all participants. This will help trace people who may have been exposed to Covid-19 if one or more participants become ill shortly after the event.
  • If someone was isolated at the event, the organiser should advise participants to monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days and take their temperature twice a day.
  • If they develop even a mild cough or low-grade fever, they should stay self-isolated and call healthcare providers.



GETTING YOUR WORKPLACE READY IN CASE COVID-19 ARRIVES THERE

  • Develop a plan for what to do if someone is infected with Covid-19 at the workplace. The plan should cover putting the ill person isolated in a room and limiting the number of people who have contact with the sick person. Consider how to identify persons who may be at risk, and support them. Tell the health authority about the plan and seek their input.
  • Promote regular teleworking across your organisation to help your business keep operating while your employees stay safe.
  • Develop a business continuity plan. It should address how to keep your business running even if a significant number of employees cannot come to the workplace, either due to travel restrictions or because they are ill.
  • For small and medium-sized businesses without in-house health staff and welfare support, develop partnerships and plans with your local health and social service providers in advance of any emergency.



WHO said the employers should start doing these things now, even if Covid-19 has not arrived in the communities where they operate. These measures can reduce working days lost due to illness and stop or slow the spread of Covid-19 in workplaces.

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