COVID-19 has been declared a national emergency in South Africa by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday 15 March 2020. The novel Coronavirus causing havoc on all levels of society and in the world leave many businesses and workplaces in limbo. The World Health Organisation (WHO) released guidelines to help businesses prepare their workplaces.
Make sure you and your business/workplace are prepared for COVID-19. Simple precautions, measures and planning can make a huge difference. If you take action and everyone works together it will help protect your employees and your business. Consider following these guidelines developed from the WHO.
5 Guidelines to get your workplace COVID-19 ready:
Knowledge is power. Stay informed.
Know what you are dealing with and educate your staff. COVID-19 is a dangerous and highly contagious virus that can spread easily through infected respiratory droplets. You can get infected either from touching or being too close to someone with the virus, or when someone coughs or sneezes and the virus lands on surfaces like an office desk, telephone or computer etc. which you end up touching and then transmit the virus from the surface area to your mouth, eyes or nose. The very first symptoms include fever, dry cough, muscle pains and flu like symptoms. Do proper research and educate your staff. The World Health Organisation and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are good informative websites to start with and explains it all.
Have a plan and procedures in place for when an employee falls ill with COVID-19.
- Inform your employees that they should NOT come to work when they feel ill or have a fever.
- If they do feel better they must bring a doctor’s note, certifying that the person is healthy and can come back to work.
- If employees develop symptoms at work, part of the plan should be to isolate that person immediately in a separate room limiting exposure to other employees and surfaces. Immediately contact local health authorities.
- Identify workers who might need extra support because they are higher at risk to get the virus. Employees might include frequent travellers because of their job description or staff members who have serious illnesses like heart and lung diseases, are older or have for example diabetes. Be very careful not to discriminate.
Be prepared to work with technology and adapt your business workings.
Try and accommodate your employees as far as possible, especially if there is a Covid-19 scare or an outbreak in your community. People are advised not to use public transport and crowded areas. Make it as easy as possible and as far as possible for your employees to use technology to complete their tasks. For employees who have to be at work to physically complete the tasks, aid them in having the correct safety precautions like hand sanitizer, masks, gloves etc. and educate them on how to prevent them from getting Covid-19.
Assist the community your business operates in, and develop a plan if an outbreak occurs.
- This plan should strategize how you can keep your business running if a huge number of employees, contractors and suppliers cannot come to your business because of government regulations and restrictions.
- Keep your communication regular and transparent. Communicate the plan and strategies to all parties involved so that they know what to do or not to do.
Don’t forget about the mental health of your employees.
Your Covid-19 workplace plans and preparations should include looking after your employees’ mental health and wellbeing. These are stressful times and there are bound to be social consequences. Keep everyone informed and up to date with all the information and try and give your employees as much support as possible. It might also be a good idea to partner with some other social service groups etc.
The Mindspa Institute offers an hour-long training presentation that will give you and your team the latest information about the virus and includes practical tips and tools. It also answers frequently asked questions and assist you with getting your workplace ready for COVID-19.