As U.S. businesses take aggressive measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, business owners may be left wondering if they are doing everything they can to protect their workforce.
Here are 10 ways businesses can help protect workers from coronavirus.
1. Learn how COVID-19 spreads.
Keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 research to understand how it spreads and take action to reduce the risk to your workforce.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the spread of COVID-19 from person-to-person most likely occurs among close contacts who are within about 6 feet of each other. It is commonly spread through respiratory secretions, especially when someone coughs or sneezes. For these reasons, you should remind workers to always cover their coughs or sneezes, to promptly dispose of tissues and thoroughly wash their hands, and to practice social distancing as much as possible.
COVID-19 can also live on different surfaces for hours or even days — 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel — according to the Virus Ecology Section of Rocky Mountain Laboratories. So, it’s important to avoid touching a surface that could have the virus on it and then touching your own mouth, nose or eyes.
2. Require sick employees to stay home.
Employees who are ill or have symptoms of an acute respiratory illness (headache, fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose and breathing difficulties) should notify their supervisor and stay home until they are symptom-free and cleared by their supervisor to return. Continue to monitor news from the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) for guidance on how long an employee with COVID-19 should remain at home to avoid spreading the disease.
3. Send sick employees home.
In some states, it’s now required that workers have their temperature checked before entering a business. If an employee appears to have symptoms of COVID-19 (for example, cough or shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or during the day, they should be immediately separated from the other employees and sent home.
4. Emphasize hand hygiene.
Instruct employees to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% to 95% alcohol or to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty. Instruct them on techniques to use to thoroughly wash their hands.
5. Perform routine environmental cleaning.
Employers should routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops and doorknobs, with a cleaning and disinfecting solution. When choosing cleaning products, employers should consult the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) list of EPA-approved disinfectants with claims against emerging viral pathogens and follow the instructions on the labels.
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6. Communicate often with employees.
Be sure to educate employees on the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and the precautions they should take to minimize their risk of contracting or spreading the virus, without causing panic. Provide guidance or resources on what to do if they or someone in their household becomes ill. It’s also a good time to be supportive of each other during this difficult and stressful situation.
7. Provide a place where employees can ask questions.
Appoint an individual or department as the point of contact in your organization for employee questions about COVID-19. Share frequently asked questions, as needed, to keep everyone informed.
8. Review your safety and emergency action plans.
Use your organization’s safety programs and emergency action plans to guide you on infectious-disease protocols, which may be unique to your business or industry.
9. Implement travel guidelines.
Ask employees to follow government guidelines on traveling, including travel advisories, and to avoid any non-essential travel.
10. Stay informed.
The COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving and changing. Employers should closely monitor the CDC and WHO websites for the latest and most accurate information on COVID-19.
This article is for informational and suggestion purposes only. If you have questions about your Grange business insurance coverage, talk with your independent insurance agent .