Reducing the Spread of Viruses – Workplace Best Practices
Lately, it might seem next to impossible to go anywhere – home, the water cooler at work, the grocery store or otherwise – without someone uttering something regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19). The truth is, even though we’re in the throes of navigating the annual flu season, its obvious that tensions are high. There are a lot of unanswered questions and uncertainty, which can lead to panic and concern. Fortunately, there are some things you can do around the workplace to protect your employees, your facilities, and keep the operational momentum going, despite this ambiguous state of health. Everyone from C-level on down has a responsibility to implement a combination of controls to protect themselves and reduce the transmission of viruses in the workplace, including:
Encouraging sick workers to stay home
Whenever possible, promoting vaccinations
Supporting proper hand hygiene and cough etiquette
Regularly keeping the workplace clean
Key Tips for Combating Viruses in the Workplace
Encourage Sick Workers to Stay Home
As an employer, you have a responsibility to closely determine and examine your sick leave policies. If feasible, you should consider offering flexible leave and telework options. Express these policies on a regular basis, especially around cold and flu season so that you can make it easier for your staff to stay home when they’re sick or caring for an ill family member.
Develop flexible leave policies that encourage workers to stay home, without penalty, if they are sick. The policies should be flexible and consistent with public health guidance and your employees should be aware of these guidelines. Discuss other human resource policies with staff, including administrative leave transfer between employees, pay policy for sick leave, childcare options, and what to do when ill during travel.
What constitutes “sick”? While not everyone who has caught a virus, such as the flu, will have a fever, its best to use the CDC as a benchmark. They suggest that workers who have a fever and respiratory symptoms should stay home until 24 hours after their fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher) dissipates without the use of medication. Other symptoms of a virus could include tiredness, runny nose, body and headaches, diarrhea, and vomiting.
It is also wise to cross-train your personnel to perform essential functions so that the workplace won’t feel the burden of personnel loss and they are able to operate even if key staff members are absent. By doing this, you are also providing that relief to an ill employee to not return to work sooner than they should.
Promote Vaccinations Whenever Possible
As cited in our previous blog, sanitize and wash down every surface regularly with highly-effective cleaning products, but also advise employees about available vaccinations. When vaccinations are available for certain virus strains, such as the flu, encourage your employees to get vaccinated. To make the burden easier on your associates, consider hosting a flu vaccination clinic in your workplace. By having vaccinations available at work, you’re able to decrease time missed from work for associates to get a critical vaccine, you’re helping to reduce the cost of productivity loss, and boosts overall office morale.
Promote Hand Hygiene and Cough Etiquette
“Cover your mouth!” We’ve all heard it and we love to remind children, but sometimes it’s easy to forget how to effectively block germs from a sneeze or cough. Repetition is key in promoting healthy behaviors. Post signs in high traffic areas that remind associates, visitors, and clients the steps for proper hand hygiene and cough etiquette.
Healthy behaviors will also be easy to adopt when you provide easy-to-access supplies in the workplace to promote health. Lobbies, halls, and restrooms should be routinely stocked with items such as:
Waste receptacles. Intended for used tissues
Antibacterial soap. Hands should be washed after touching nose, coughing, sneezing, or coming into contact with mucus or contaminated objects and surfaces. To properly use, dispense soap and water onto hands. Rub hands together for at least 20 seconds, rinse hands with water, and dry.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Should contain 60-95% alcohol. When soap and water are not available, the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a helpful measure until hand washing is possible.
To combat lingering germs in the workplace, routinely focus on cleaning all frequently touched surfaces, such as workstations, countertops, elevators, and doorknobs. Only use cleaning agents that are intended for those respective areas and ensure that you’re following the directions on the label for optimum effectiveness to reduce the risk of spreading surface germs and viruses. When certain virus seasons are high, consider increasing the frequency in which you’re conducting the regular office cleanings.
You can also empower associates to reduce the risk of spreading viruses between office cleans by supplying your common areas with items like disposable wipes. Doing so gives associates the control to wipe down commonly used surfaces such as doorknobs, remotes, shared meeting room phones, desks, and so on.
Vebo Pandemic Cleaning & Disinfectant Services
Vebo has spent more time and research to understand the new virus and develop plans to ensure we are properly prepared to provide relevant information to our customers as well as a specific disinfectant solution. We are offering our clients different options to keep your facilities clean and safe:
Deep Cleaning: Thorough cleaning of your facility focused on the most high-touch areas in your space. We come up with a scope of work tailored to your specific space
Electrostatic E-Sprayer: Top of the line disinfecting technology utilizing positive ions and a disinfecting mist spray to ensure all areas are properly disinfected
Each year customers turn to Vebo to clean their offices thoroughly. The importance of office cleanliness is heightened this year as we have been introduced to a new virus in addition to the annual “flu season”.
Please contact our Director of Operations to learn more – firstname.lastname@example.org