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Get Workplace Ready -The New Normal

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In January 2020, The World Health Organisation (WHO) stated there is a high risk of the 2019 coronavirus disease and in particular COVID-19 spreading to other countries around the world. The WHO, public health authorities and workplaces are taking action to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. However long-term success cannot be taken for granted. All sections of our society – including businesses and employers – must play a role if we are to stop the spread of this disease.

How COVID-19 spreads

When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid. Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects – such as office desks, tables and telephones. People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. If they are standing within one meter of a person with COVID-19 they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them. In other words, COVID-19 spreads in a similar way to flu.

Employers should start doing these things now, even if COVID-19 has not arrived in the communities where they operate. We can already reduce working days lost due to illness and stop or slow the spread of COVID-19 if it arrives at one of our workplaces.

This article gives advice on getting the workplace ready, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace and falls in line with The World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, which is available online.

1. Keeping the workplace clean and hygienic.

The main factor to be considered before people make the journey back to the office is to make sure the workplace is clean and hygienic. Different cleaning methods may need to be considered including regular cleaning and deep cleaning, but what are the main differences?

Regular cleaning in the office usually includes some of the following:  dusting, hoovering and mopping floors, emptying bins, wiping down and sanitising desks and meeting room tables, cleaning glass surfaces and cleaning IT equipment. A regular clean may take place once or twice a week and is most likely the type of clean most people are familiar with at work.

A deep clean is more intensive and focuses on areas which are often overlooked which have built up clutter as well as dirt and grime over the passage of time. A deep clean is usually carried out every 6 months to a year and will consist of some of the following: Emptying cupboards to clean them inside out, vacuuming out vents and dusting all surfaces such as ledges, tracks and blinds, wiping down or vacuuming all office and café furniture, cleaning and sanitizing computer keyboards and screens as well as telephones.

Regular Clean Deep Clean Fogging Office

Whilst the aim is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when regular or deep cleaning, extra attention should be given to ‘high touch areas/contact points’ such as door handles and light switches. Disinfect ‘high touch’ surfaces using a product that kills 99.9% of germs, such as Dettol Surface Cleaner.

You may have seen, heard, or be considering a cleaning method called fogging which is a term used to describe the process of filling an area with a disinfectant fog. The fog consists of Ultra Low Volume (ULV) droplets, which hang in the air and kill pathogens. Applying disinfectant as a fog will treat all available and hard to reach surfaces, including walls, floor, ceilings and soft furnishings. 

Fogging leaves your office or premises as infection-free as possible and can be reopened in just six hours after treatment.

2. Promote regular and thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors and customers.

It is important to promote hand washing in as many places as possible as washing hands is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community – from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals. We have suggested within our New Covid-19 office to use floor standing or mobile screens to promote this message. These screens can be used to create walkways and safe zones and can double up as highly visible noticeboards for posters and information:

1.	Promote regular and thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors and customers.

3. Put sanitizing hand dispensers in prominent places around the workplace. Make sure these are regularly refilled.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommend washing hands with soap and water wherever possible because hand washing reduces the amounts of all types and germs and chemicals on hands. But if soap and water are not available or limited, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can help you avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. The Empress foot-operated hand sanitizer and Elena stainless steel hand sanitiser dispenser is a hygienic hands free operational dispense which requires minimal maintenance.

Put sanitizing hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace

4. Ensure that facemasks and / or paper tissues are available at your workplaces and bins to dispose.

There was initially conflicting information about the effectiveness of wearing facemasks to help stop or slow the spread of COVID-19. The ambiguity was surrounded by several factors, mainly consisting of incomplete or limited research. In the UK we were told by ministers not to wear facemasks in public.  The plans now have finally confirmed that the governments do want people to wear ‘face coverings’. The reasons being that: As more people return to work, there will be more movement outside people’s immediate household. Wearing facemasks at work or in public is not mandatory but we think providing the option and masks for staff could be beneficial for wellbeing levels and in turn reducing anxiety levels. We currently offer two protective masks in multipacks of 100 and 500 including the IIR Facemask and the KN95 respirator facemask.Facemasks at work and the office

Instead of recycling, the public is asked to treat PPE in the same way as domestic medical waste such as properly contained sharps and soiled hygiene products such as nappies and pads and should be bagged separately and disposed of in general waste.

5. Meetings. Consider whether a face-to-face meeting or event is needed. Could it be replaced by a teleconference or online event?

Organizers of meetings and events need to think about the potential risk from COVID-19 because there is a risk that people attending your meeting might unwittingly bring COVID-19 to the meeting. While COVID-19 is a mild disease for most people, it can make some very ill and around 1 in every 5 people who catch COVID-19 needs hospital treatment. There a a few Key considerations to prevent or reduce COVID-19 risks when it comes to getting workplace ready for meetings. Before the meeting it would be a good idea to develop and agree a plan to prevent infection at the meeting. It may also be worth considering if a face-to-face meeting or event is needed and if if could be replaced by a teleconference or online event. Video conferencing will no doubt be a useful communication tool as we continue to reduce face-to-face meetings to practice social distancing measures. We can offer a number of video conferencing booths and individual booths such as the Cypher Solo Booth, Aegis Solo Pod, Aegis Solo Pod 2 and Aegis Solo Pod 3

Video Conferencing at work


6. Develop a plan of what to do if someone becomes ill with suspected COVID-19 at the workplace. 

A plan should be developed should someone at work becomes ill with symptoms of COVID-19 (dry cough, fever, malaise) This plan should include at least: 

1. Identifying a room, pod or area where someone who is feeling unwell can be safely isolated.

2. Have a plan for how they can be safely transferred from there to a health facility or home, avoiding public transport if possible.

3. Agree the plan in advance with your partner healthcare provider or health department.

4. Offer support to the person who may be at risk without inviting stigma and discrimination into your workplace.

5. Be sure that your plan addresses the mental health and social consequences of a case od COVID-19 in the workplace and offer information and support.

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Now is the time to prepare for COVID-19. Simple precautions and planning can make a big difference. Action now will help protect your employees and businesses. #backtoworksafely #backtowork #officereality 

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