By Jonathan Stolk
As the coronavirus pandemic unfolds, it’s becoming more and more important for all of us to step up and stand by our communities. In response to COVID-19, we want to help protect those who are in the front lines of the battle.
Municipalities, first responders, public health organizations, healthcare facilities and all other life-essential services providers will be able to use Capptions for free to:
There is no doubt that, in one way or another, everyone’s life is severely affected by the coronavirus. People and families are self-isolating. Entire cities and countries have been locked down. Businesses of all kinds are facing unprecedented economic challenges. Unfortunately, various estimates suggest that the pandemic could last for 12-18 more months.
We all have no choice but to accept that the coronavirus may be part of our daily lives for quite some time and adapt. That’s why, as a response to this crisis, many organisations have chosen to enable and stimulate remote work.
But for a large number of roles, the home office is simply not a viable option. In industries such as manufacturing, oil and gas and telecommunications, companies have to continue functioning because, otherwise, normal daily life would be disrupted. In these organisations, the only way to battle the COVID-19 threat is through the deliberate efforts of health & safety professionals.
In brief, here are the main steps that EHS professionals are advised to take:
With the speed the coronavirus is spreading and the lack of treatment, organisations would be wise to develop a plan to counter an outbreak. Here are the main issues to address:
At this point, we can only reduce the speed with which the virus is spreading through prevention. Health and safety authorities recommend taking these actions even if there are no confirmed cases in your community:
Educating employees and convincing them to cooperate is the only way to stall COVID-19. So, feel free to get creative in this direction. You can even email them videos like this one: https://www.youtube.com/embed/bPITHEiFWLc
More educational resources on the novel coronavirus can be found here.
When it comes to controlling and minimising hazard exposure, Occupational safety and health professionals typically use the “hierarchy of controls” framework.
Strictly speaking, elimination of the hazard is the best option. However, with COVID-19, this isn’t a viable solution because we have no way of permanently removing the virus at this point. Substitution is partially possible for those companies that can create a completely remote work environment. Even though this is an effective solution, the hazard remains because a shared workspace isn’t the only way to contract the virus.
In such a situation, the most effective workplace controls you can implement are engineering controls, followed by administrative controls. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be a last resort. It’s important to note that, in order for these measures to work, you need complete employee buy-in and cooperation.
In health and safety, engineering controls typically refer to installing machines and structures that isolate the threat. In this case, though, it’s more about isolating people from each other. Here are a few essential engineering controls to consider for coronavirus prevention:
This form of coronavirus prevention requires changes to business operations and employee behaviour.
The use of PPE depends on what risk your employees are exposed to. OSHA suggests the following Occupational Risk Pyramid for COVID-19.
The “Very High” risk exposure group consists of healthcare workers, laboratory personnel and morgue workers. The “High” risk exposure group consists of healthcare delivery and support staff, medical transport workers and mortuary workers. The “Medium” risk group includes workers that have frequent contact with travellers who are returning from locations where COVID-19 is widespread. Or, if there is COVID-19 transmission in the community, anyone who has frequent contact with co-workers and the general public. The “Lower Risk” group includes employees who have minimal contact with co-workers and the general public.
The WHO suggests ensuring that face masks and /or paper tissues are available at your workplace but only for those who show symptoms like coughing and sneezing. Their recommendation continues to say that “other than healthcare workers, facemasks are only recommended for symptomatic individuals to reduce the risk of transmitting the infection to other people.”
The CDC doesn’t recommend wearing face masks by people who are well and the ECDC notes that “there is no evidence on the usefulness of face masks worn by persons who are not ill to prevent infection from COVID19, therefore this is not advisable.”
According to the WHO, coronavirus is mostly spread through respiratory droplets of sick individuals,
“The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing. The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low.”
Here are the steps you can take when there is a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus:
Download the free Capptions app and you’ll get this checklist directly on your smartphone. Besides enjoying the dopamine rush of checking off these list items, you will also be able:
During a pandemic, we couldn’t be further from “business as usual”. The landscape is as unpredictable as ever and business conditions change by the hour. The coronavirus outbreak poses three main risks to businesses:
According to the CDC and Unicef, good old-fashioned soap and water are the better option. The Unicef site goes on to say that, “using chlorinated water or hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol are the best second options if you do not have soap and running water.”
Soap works best because the novel coronavirus is protected by a fat-based envelope. The soap and water combination can easily dissolve this covering just like it removes fat from dirty dishes. Hand sanitizer has a different mechanism—it prevents the virus from replicating.
Both bar soap and liquid soap will work. Antibacterial soap isn’t necessary because coronavirus is a virus, no bacteria. What is most important is to remind employees to wash their hands properly for at least twenty seconds.