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COVID-19: WHO advises on measures to protect workplace, employees

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised employers worldwide to take preventive steps against spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, even if the virus has not been confirmed in communities where they operate.

Hand sanitiser
Hand sanitiser

WHO in a guidance document unveiled on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 said that all sections of the society, including businesses and employers, must play a role, if the world was to stop the spread of the disease.

It advised employers to ensure that workplaces were clean and hygienic, adding that surfaces such as desks and tables and objects including telephones and keyboards need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly.

“Contamination on surfaces touched by employees and customers is one of the main ways that COVID-19 spreads.

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

“Put sanitising hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace and make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled,” it said.

The health agency advised that display of posters promoting hand-washing should be combined with other communication measures such as offering guidance from occupational health and safety officers to promote hand-washing.

It stressed that employers should ensure that staff, contractors and customers have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water.

“Washing kills the virus on your hands and prevents the spread of COVID-19,” it said.

It added that efforts should be made to promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace and posters displayed to promote respiratory hygiene.

“Ensure that face masks or paper tissues are available at your workplaces, for those who develop a runny nose or cough at work, along with closed bins for hygienically disposing of them.

“Good respiratory hygiene prevents the spread of COVID-19,” it said.

It advised that employees, contractors and customers be briefed that if COVID-19 starts spreading in their community, anyone with even a mild cough or low grade fever (37.3 C or more) needs to stay at home.

“They should also stay home or work from home if they have had to take simple medications, such as paracetamol, acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin, which may mask symptoms of infection.

“Make clear to employees that they will be able to count this time off as sick leave,” it said.

It advised employees and contractors to consult national travel advice before going on business trips.

WHO noted that the low-cost measures would help prevent the spread of infections in workplaces, such as colds, flu and stomach bugs, and protect customers, contractors and employees.

It added that simple precautions and planning could make a big difference, stressing that action taken now would help protect employees and businesses.

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