As coronavirus (COVID-19) begins spreading throughout the United States, employers need to stay educated about how to prevent the spread of this deadly virus.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued travel warnings and encourages people to clean their hands often – washing them with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. Additionally, people must use their sleeve or tissue to cover their nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.
Infectious-Disease Management Plans
If your business doesn’t have an infectious-disease management plan in place, now is the time to identify vulnerabilities in the event there is a significant outbreak. It’s not only essential that employers address this current outbreak, but experts are warning that if the coronavirus is not under control soon, it could return next winter even stronger.
An useful infectious-disease management plan addresses:
- Employee travel restrictions
- Provisions for employees traveling and unable to return home
- Workplace safety precautions
- Mandatory medical check-ups, medication and vaccinations
- Mandatory reporting if an employee is exposed
- Employee isolation or quarantine
- Workplace shutdowns
Plans should include information for sick employees about staying home and telecommuting, if necessary. While the coronavirus hasn’t reached a pandemic, businesses should iron out these types of issues in advance.
Even if you don’t have a specific plan related to infectious diseases, having a disaster-preparedness plan can also apply. As in the event of a hurricane or tornado, offices shut down. So too, would businesses if the coronavirus reaches a full pandemic level.
What Employers Can Do
Employers should stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus information through the CDC website. While the coronavirus is still in its infancy stages, its spread is evitable.
Here are some recommended employer strategies:
- Encourage sick employees to stay at home
- Separate sick employees and provide face masks, if necessary
- Post posters that encourage clean hand hygiene, staying home when sick and sneeze and cough etiquette
- Provide no-touch disposal receptacles and tissues for employees
- Regularly clean the workplace and workstations
- Post and disseminate CDC coronavirus posters and fact sheets
- Post the CDC’s “Stop the Spread of Germs” poster
While pharmaceutical companies are rushing to test medications to ease coronavirus symptoms, there is no cure or vaccine currently in place.
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