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Life After Lockdown: 11 Workplace Hygiene and Precaution Measures to Adopt

Jun 1, 2020 6:38 AM 3 min read
Editorial

We discuss some precautions one can take (as employee and employer) as we return to the workplace. 

The nationwide lockdown, first imposed on March 24th in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been extended four times. The ongoing phase is in force till May 31st.

As per the latest reports, the Government is working on new guidelines that will remove lockdown restrictions from most parts of the country - barring 13 cities that have recorded 70% of the total cases - from June 1st.

This would mean that most of us will slowly begin to move out of our slumber and head back to our offices - ushering in the “new normal”.

Today we discuss some precautions one can take (as employee and employer) as we return to work.

Governments around the world have been flirting with the idea of reopening their economies, and businesses have been prepping frantically. 

In a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, the author, Marc R. Larochelle, M.D., M.P.H. Outlines that a robust strategy to protect at-risk workers needs at least three components.

First, a framework for counseling patients about the risks posed by continuing to work. Second, urgent policy changes to ensure financial protections for people who are kept out of work. And third, a data-driven plan for safe re-entry into the workforce.

To begin with, one must evaluate the risk of contracting the virus based on age and the presence of high-risk chronic conditions identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The following graphic by Occupational Safety and Health Administration can be a good starting point:

 

occupational risk and risk of death from SARS-CoV-2

 

Ideally, individuals with high risk of death from SARS-CoV-2 (those of older age who work in an environment where there will be contact with people known to have coronavirus) must refrain from stepping out for work. Individuals with medium and low risk of death should resume work taking precautions subject to their environment of specific work.

The same logic should be applied to detect potential risks back at home or to other contacts.

Worthwhile to note here that older people and those with chronic conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, have faced higher mortality from Covid-19.

In a large case series in China, fatality rate was less than 0.5% among people under 50 years of age, 1.3% among those 50 to 59, and 3.6% among those 60 to 69. People with diabetes possessed risk of death three times that of the overall cohort.

Staying abreast of guidance from local authorities, State and Central Government would be key at this hour.

Basic Infection Prevention Measures

  1. Always keep your personal protective kit handy - face cover, hand sanitizer, hand soap, gloves (with adequate replacements)

  2. Opt for staggered arrival and departure to avoid peak hours 

  3. Always wear a face cover and gloves during commutes, especially if you travel in public transport. Make use of a digital wallet for making payments, as much as possible. Avoid dealings in cash 

  4. Ensure adequate distancing at work

  5. Wipe down your desk, mouse, keyboard and screen daily with an alcohol rub before you start work

  6. Refrain from hugging or shaking hands with anyone. Come up with a new style of greeting or fall back on the age-old namaste

  7. Frequent and thorough hand washing, especially after touching a doorknob or pressing the lift buttons

  8. Avoid crowded lifts. Even better, take the staircase instead. In case you need to touch the railing for support, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water

  9. Avoid using shared cutlery

  10. Go digital as much as possible. Avoid touching papers/documents/folders that have been handled by others

  11. Most importantly, stay back at home if you are feeling unwell

 

Real-estate giant Cushman & Wakefield developed a concept for a 6 Feet Office at their Amsterdam HQ with all sorts of ideas to help employees maintain social distancing and keep things clean.

And for those who are currently unable to get back to work owing to their high-risk profile, organisations must ensure that these employees are able to meet their basic needs, including housing, food, and health care, also providing additional financial support and protections, wherever necessary. 

Stay healthy. Stay safe.

FIN.

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