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Covid 19 Safety in the Workplace

Businesses and employers can prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19 within the workplace. Employers should respond in a way that considers the level of disease transmission in their communities and revise their business response plans as needed. We have compiled this handy guide to assist you.

 

Steps all employers can take to reduce workers’ risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2

Develop an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan

If one does not already exist, develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan that can help guide protective actions against COVID-19. Stay abreast of guidance from federal, state, local, tribal, and/or territorial health agencies, and consider how to incorporate those recommendations and resources into workplace-specific plans. Plans should consider and address the level(s) of risk associated with various worksites and job tasks workers perform at those sites. Such considerations may include:

  • Where, how, and to what sources of SARS-CoV-2 might workers be exposed, including: { The general public, customers, and coworkers; and { Sick individuals or those at particularly high risk of infection (e.g., international travelers who have visited locations with widespread sustained (ongoing) COVID-19 transmission, healthcare workers who have had unprotected exposures to people known to have, or suspected of having, COVID-19).
  • Non-occupational risk factors at home and in community settings. OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION 8
  • Workers’ individual risk factors (e.g., older age; presence of chronic medical conditions, including immunocompromising conditions; pregnancy).
  • Controls necessary to address those risks. Follow federal and state, local, tribal, and/or territorial (SLTT) recommendations regarding development of contingency plans for situations that may arise as a result of outbreaks, such as:
  • Increased rates of worker absenteeism.
  • The need for social distancing, staggered work shifts, downsizing operations, delivering services remotely, and other exposure-reducing measures.
  • Options for conducting essential operations with a reduced workforce, including cross-training workers across different jobs in order to continue operations or deliver surge services.
  • Interrupted supply chains or delayed deliveries.

Plans should also consider and address the other steps that employers can take to reduce the risk of worker exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in their workplace, described in the following sections.

Prepare to Implement Basic Infection Prevention Measures

For most employers, protecting workers will depend on emphasizing basic infection prevention measures. As appropriate, all employers should implement good hygiene and infection control practices, including:

  • Promote frequent and thorough hand washing, including by providing workers, customers, and worksite visitors with a place to wash their hands. If soap and running water are not immediately available, provide alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.
  • Encourage respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes. GUIDANCE ON PREPARING WORKPLACES FOR COVID-19 
  • Provide customers and the public with tissues and trash receptacles.
  • Employers should explore whether they can establish policies and practices, such as flexible worksites (e.g., telecommuting) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts), to increase the physical distance among employees and between employees and others if state and local health authorities recommend the use of social distancing strategies.
  • Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible.
  • Maintain regular housekeeping practices, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, equipment, and other elements of the work environment. When choosing cleaning chemicals, employers should consult information on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved disinfectant labels with claims against emerging viral pathogens. Products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens claims are expected to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 based on data for harder to kill viruses. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use of all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, PPE).

Develop Policies and Procedures for Prompt Identification and Isolation of Sick People, if appropriate;

  • Prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals is a critical step in protecting workers, customers, visitors, and others at a worksite.
  • Employers should inform and encourage employees to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 if they suspect possible exposure.
  • Employers should develop policies and procedures for employees to report when they are sick or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION 1 0.

Where appropriate, employers should develop policies and procedures for immediately isolating people who have signs and/or symptoms of COVID-19, and train workers to implement them. Move potentially infectious people to a location away from workers, customers, and other visitors. Although most worksites do not have specific isolation rooms, designated areas with closable doors may serve as isolation rooms until potentially sick people can be removed from the worksite.

  • Take steps to limit spread of the respiratory secretions of a person who may have COVID-19. Provide a face mask, if feasible and available, and ask the person to wear it, if tolerated. Note: A face mask (also called a surgical mask, procedure mask, or other similar terms) on a patient or other sick person should not be confused with PPE for a worker; the mask acts to contain potentially infectious respiratory secretions at the source (i.e., the person’s nose and mouth).
  • If possible, isolate people suspected of having COVID-19 separately from those with confirmed cases of the virus to prevent further transmission—particularly in worksites where medical screening, triage, or healthcare activities occur, using either permanent (e.g., wall/different room) or temporary barrier (e.g., plastic sheeting).
  • Restrict the number of personnel entering isolation areas.
  • Protect workers in close contact with (i.e., within 6 feet of) a sick person or who have prolonged/repeated contact with such persons by using additional engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and PPE. Workers whose activities involve close or prolonged/ repeated contact with sick people are addressed further in later sections covering workplaces classified at medium and very high or high exposure risk.

 

Covid-19 Information and Updates in South Africa

Contact Information as provided by the Department of Health.

CORONA VIRUS(COVID-19) 24-HOUR HOTLINE NUMBER:0800 029 999

CORONA VIRUS(COVID-19) WhatsApp Number:0600 12 3456

Step 1: Save the number to your contacts on your cell phone.

Step 2: In Send the Word “Hi” to Covid-19 Connect and start chatting.

Source: www.ohsa.gov Health and Safety in the Workplace

Source: http://www.health.gov.za Department of Health

For more information please download the official OHSA guide on Preparing Workplaces for Covid-19 in South Africa. https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf

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