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A common sense approach to Coronavirus

 

Introduction

By now most people will be aware of the coronavirus (COVID-19) especially with the jump in reported cases this week meaning the UK risk level has now been raised to moderate.

As of 4th March over 16000 people in the UK had been tested for Coronavirus, of which 85 were confirmed as positive.

Whilst the potential knock on effects of the spread of the coronavirus is far reaching there is no reason to panic. Applying some common sense and listening to the advice of professionals will help minimise the spread of the coronavirus.

At present there is no need to stop turning up at work unless you have any of the symptoms or have been in close contact with someone with coronavirus symptoms. It is however important to keep informed of the latest status of the Coronavirus from the Government in case they advise avoiding public places such as work or school.

Additionally there is no current need to wear masks or to stockpile supplies. Supermarkets are already reporting a shortage of canned food, toilet paper, anti-bacterial soap and wipes and hand sanitiser.

For employees and employers there are some excellent best practice advice from professional bodies. Here is a quick summary of some of the things employers need to consider:

 

Are your employees aware of all of the symptoms?

The NHS have described the symptoms of someone with coronavirus as having:

  • A cough
  • High temperature
  • Shortness of breath

The difficulty is that these symptoms are also similar such as colds and flu so whilst someone may be suffering from these symptoms they may not have coronavirus.

If you are unsure use the NHS 111 service by calling 111 from your phone. Do not go to the chemist or doctors surgery.

 

Have you implemented any preventative measures in the workplace?

There are a number of things employers and employees can do to reduce the risk of catching and spreading the coronavirus in the workplace. For example:

Employer responsibilities

  • Ensure employees have access to adequate facilities for washing hands
  • Provide soap and where possible hand sanitisers
  • Ensure the office is thoroughly and regularly cleaned including surfaces that are employees regularly come into contact with such as door handles.
  • Avoid unnecessary meetings where employees maybe in close contact with each other.

Employee responsibilities

  • Wash hands regularly and thoroughly with hot water and soap
  • Use paper towels and dispose of in the bin immediately after use
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitisers after coming into contact with communal surfaces
  • Use tissues when sneezing and coughing – bin these straight away afterwards
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Keep the workspace and equipment clean including phones and keyboards

 

Do you have a process in place for your employees in relation to Coronavirus?

First of all, it would be a good idea to make sure all of your employees contact information including emergency contacts are up to date. Then ensure you communicate your response to the coronavirus and what process the employees need to follow during the outbreak.

This could include:

  • Publish information from the Government and NHS about the Coronavirus. This could be pinned to a notice board and/or on the company intranet.
  • What is the procedure if someone becomes ill at work with coronavirus symptoms.
  • What the company’s position relating to sick pay for different scenarios, for example if they have been advised to self-isolate, if they are sent home ill, if they have to care for someone who is ill because of coronavirus, if they decide not to turn up to work in case they catch the virus.
  • Advise employees of their responsibilities if they are advised to self-isolate
  • Provide best practice and travel advice for business related trips, especially if abroad.

Again the best advice is to use common sense and follow the official advice from the NHS, Government and other professional organisations to help employers and their employees such as the ones listed below:

 

Useful links relating to Coronavirus

 

NHS https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
.Gov.uk https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
ACAS https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus
CIPD  https://www.cipd.co.uk/news-views/coronavirus/faqs