The SARS-CoV-2 virus caused the respiratory disease COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) globally. It affected the normal life of common people as the pandemic resulted in an increased death rate worldwide. The normal routine life was affected, including food, travel, trade, finnacial market and tourism.
Thinking of the routes of transmission, sources of exposure, and exposure risks of COVID-19, a proper safety plan is needed to reduce the impact on the public, business, customers, employers, and workers. Employers should prepare their workers regarding the safety protocols in the workplace to avoid further worsening outbreak conditions. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) developed COVID-19 safety guidelines in the workplace, which are used for planning purposes similar to the influenza pandemic guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus. To identify appropriate control measures and the risks in the workplace, the workers should follow the OSHA planning guidance. Whenever there is new information regarding virus transmission and risks, additional updates will be provided along with the existing guidelines. Thus the safety protocols of OSHA help to reopen the offices and new businesses.
How Is the Worker's Exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 Virus Classified Based on Their Occupation?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has divided job tasks into four risk exposure levels. They are-
1) Very High Exposure Risk Jobs:
a. Very high exposure risk jobs are healthcare workers or those working with COVID-19 patients.
b. Laboratory healthcare personnel collect samples of suspected or known COVID-19 patients for culturing procedures.
c. Morgue workers perform autopsies on known and suspected people to have COVID-19 at the time of their death. Healthcare workers with very high exposure risk include the following -
2) High Exposure Risk Jobs:
a. Healthcare delivery and support staff such as doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff are at high exposure risk because they have to enter patient's rooms, exposing themselves to known or suspected COVID-19 cases.
b. Medical transport workers are ambulance vehicle operators who will move known or suspected COVID-19 patients in closed vehicles.
c. Mortuary workers are involved in preparing the burial or cremation of the known or suspected bodies of COVID-19 patients.
3) Medium Exposure Risk Jobs:
They require frequent or close contact (within six feet) with virus-infected people, but they do not know they are suspected of COVID-19 cases. Employees of this group have frequent contact with travelers who return from international locations. Employees may have contact with the general public such as
4) Lower Exposure Risk Jobs:
They do not require contact with people who are known or suspected of COVID-19, and they also do not get close contact within six feet of the general public. Workers under this category have minimal contact with the public and with other coworkers.
What Are the Changes Experienced in the Workplace Due to COVID-19?
1) Skipping of Work:
Employers and employees can frequently skip work because of the fear of possible exposure for the following reasons.
The employers, workers, and employees can be absent due to any illness.
They will not be present in the workplace if their family members are sick.
If the schools or daycare centers are closed, the caregivers of some children will not go to the workplace. Caregivers are health professionals, family members, friends, and social workers.
Having high-risked family members at home, such as immunocompromised individuals, will not appear to work.
2) Change in Business Patterns:
Customer during the COVID-19 outbreak will highly demand only the items of infection control, such as sanitizers, masks, and face shields, so the interest in buying other goods will decline. There will be a change in the shopping pattern due to the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce the risk of exposure. To reduce the person-to-person contact, customers increased their purchases -
3) Shipment From Various Places:
Delivering the customer's order has been delayed due to the pandemic situation, or some items are currently interrupted from different geographic areas. COVID-19 has affected the shipments, which may be delayed or canceled with or without prior information. These services are now resumed with almost no restrictions. In the last two years, people have learned and have got into the habitof ordering things through various online merchants.
How to Maintain Social Distance at the Workplace?
COVID-19 is controlled by putting more distance between people. Following social distancing is the new change, and it should be practiced in the office by having:
Social distancing policies at the workplace are:
1. Flexible work shifts are appreciated, and also plan for remote work and telework. Meetings and workstations should have the best technology for remote collaboration. Only allow,
2. Scheduling works to have a minimal number of employers in a space at one time. People can execute daily shifts or segregate staff to work remotely for one week and come to the office the next week. Make sure all the areas are disinfected between shifts.
3. Also, the workspace should be set up with more distance between employees. Plastic dividers, physical barriers, floor decals, and six-foot-spaced desks guide the workers to walk and maintain physical distance. Do not share any types of equipment in the workplace.
4. Have a lower capacity entrance for common areas. People can also automate these processes by occupancy management systems, which help count the number of entities present and notify us when the number falls.
5. Offering remote or digital services minimizes physical contact when compared to take-out- the service at doorsteps.
How to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 at the Workplace?
1) Ensure that the workplaces are clean and hygienic. For example, surfaces like desks and tables and objects like telephones and keyboards should be disinfected on a daily basis.
2) Employees, employers, and customers should follow regular hand-washing.
3) Place the sanitizing hand rub dispensers in important places around the workplace, and they are to be refilled regularly.
4) Encourage proper respiratory hygiene in the workplace.
5) Make sure surgical masks and tissue papers are available at the workplace for people with runny noses and coughs and ensure that they are disposed of hygienically.
6) Do not have unnecessary travel plans both locally and internationally.
7) In the event of unavoidable travel to locations reporting COVID-19, follow the below:
Check whether the organization and its employees have information on COVID-19 reporting cases.
Always ensure the travel instructions and share them with the employees.
All traveling persons should ensure a health care professional or staff health services when they feel sick while traveling.
Older employees, diabetic persons, and heart and lung diseased individuals are at higher risk of the disease, and they should avoid long travels.
Regularly wash hands and stay at a one-meter distance from people who are coughing and sneezing.
The employees should make sure of the instructions where they are traveling from the local authorities.
Once returned, the employees should quarantine themselves for 14 days and check the temperature twice a day.
If diagnosed with a mild cough or low-grade fever of 37.3 degrees Celsius, they should self-isolate, report to the nearest health care center and inform the workplace. Also, avoid close contact of one meter with other people and family members.
Considering the major role of safety guidelines, people should follow COVID-19 protocols such as maintaining a social distance of one meter, maintaining six feet distance at the workplace, having a double mask, frequently washing hands, and avoiding frequent contact with eyes and face. Having the information that the novel coronavirus can stay back viable for hours and days, everybody should follow these above workplace strategies to reopen to avoid future surge of its cases.
Frequently Asked Questions