Doctor’s tips for making workplace safe

By Dr. Jonathan Spero
Posted 6/28/20

The offices, warehouses, and manufacturing plants that America’s workers are starting to return to may look the same as they did months ago, but the feel inside will be largely different. The coronavirus has changed the workplace environment as we knew it for the foreseeable future.

To Our Valued Readers –

Visitors to our website will be limited to five stories per month unless they opt to subscribe.

For $5.99, less than 20 cents a day, subscribers will receive unlimited access to the website, including access to our Daily Independent e-edition, which features Arizona-specific journalism and items you can’t find in our community print products, such as weather reports, comics, crossword puzzles, advice columns and so much more six days a week.

Our commitment to balanced, fair reporting and local coverage provides insight and perspective not found anywhere else.

Your financial commitment will help to preserve the kind of honest journalism produced by our reporters and editors. We trust you agree that independent journalism is an essential component of our democracy. Please click here to subscribe.

Sincerely,
Charlene Bisson, Publisher, Independent Newsmedia

Please log in to continue

Log in
I am anchor

Doctor’s tips for making workplace safe

Pixabay
Posted

The offices, warehouses, and manufacturing plants that America’s workers are starting to return to may look the same as they did months ago, but the feel inside will be largely different. The coronavirus has changed the workplace environment as we knew it for the foreseeable future.

Companies welcoming back employees to their facilities are subject to a duty of care that requires new protocols and rules necessary to protect the health of their workforce. While there is no perfect plan, knowing the priorities and putting extra attention on detailed health measures are paramount for all employers.

As employers begin creating a COVID back-to-work program for their organizations, it is clear that there is no proven roadmap.

We are in uncharted territory.

But it has to be all about health security.

People are concerned when they get up in the morning that they are going to be exposed to COVID-19. The only way to solve it is to take a lesson out of the global public health playbook and establish proven health security strategies. This involves three foundational elements: the prevention of illness, the detection, and the response once you get the data to identify who’s ill or who has been infected in the past. Some people will get infected in the workplace, so the key is taking all the measures that can help keep the transmission rate way down.

Here are some tips for developing a return-to-work plan:

• Reconfigure high-contact areas.

Continued social distancing and wearing masks in the office remain top priorities as the pandemic continues. Until further notice office space needs to be designed so employees remain at least six feet from each other at all times, There is no more mingling in groups, and people have to be spread out.

• Daily temperature checks.

These are done before entry in the workplace. Use no-contact, infrared thermometers. Taking employees’ temperature is not bullet-proof; people can be asymptomatic and still be infected.

But fever is the most common symptom associated with COVID-19, so it makes sense to still check people’s temperatures. If they’re above normal, they’re sent home with a plan to refer the ill employee for follow-up medical evaluation and potentially COVID testing.

• Consider PCR testing.

As states reopen businesses, some large companies are testing employees for COVID-19 while trying to prevent outbreaks on the job. Medical professionals and employers say this testing, known as PCR (Polymerase chain reaction), can help reduce transmissions and workers’ fears. For employers, it’s recommended that when doing a screening, you’re testing for those patients that are asymptomatic.

The idea around PCR testing is, because there’s an asymptomatic pool of employees that may be positive, you want to identify those folks and avoid them infecting others in the workplace.

• Have a reporting and follow-up system.

Employees who test positive need to be enrolled in a return-to-work program. This involves quarantine protocols and work clearance guidelines on when the employee can return to work.

• Ramp up cleaning procedures.

There should be morning and evening routines of disinfecting all surfaces in the work area, including keyboards. Frequent hand washing, use of hand sanitizer, and avoiding touching your face all are very important as employees come back to the office.

Returning to a workplace does bring risks, and employers have a duty of care to mitigate these risks. It’s imperative employers build a plan that reduces the risk of COVID transmission.

Dr. Jonathan Spero is a physician and an expert on pandemic preparedness and employee health. For over 30 years he has been the CEO of InHouse Physicians, which is dedicated to protecting the health and wellbeing of employees and meeting attendees around the world.

Comments

X