When the COVID-19 pandemic struck at the beginning of the year, everybody thought this would be a slight disruption of normalcy. Ten months later, the virus is still wreaking havoc everywhere. From the look of things, the virus doesn’t seem to be going away soon. Due to this, people have been forced to work under the new normal characterized by social distancing, sanitizing, and wearing masks.
With people working amid the outbreak of infectious disease, it’s the responsibility of a manager or the employer to ensure everyone is protected from contracting the infectious disease. So, as a manager, what should you do to protect your employees?
In April, the International Labour Organization (ILO) urged governments to take action to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace through active involvement and dialogue with employers and workers’ organizations or associations. Moreover, the ILO advises that all employers need to conduct risk assessments to ensure their workplaces meet strict occupational safety and health criteria to mitigate the risk of exposure to the virus.
“The safety and health of our entire workforce is paramount today. In the face of an infectious disease outbreak, how we protect our workers now clearly dictates how safe our communities are, and how resilient our businesses will be, as this pandemic evolves,” Director-General of the ILO, Guy Ryder said. “It is only by implementing occupational safety and health measures that we can protect the lives of workers, their families and the larger communities, ensure work continuity and economic survival.”
Other ILO recommendations to ensure safety in the workplace and avoid further disruptions include:
· Mapping hazards and assessing risks of contagion concerning all work operations, and continuing to assess them following a return to work.
· Adopting risk control measures adapted to each sector and the specifics of each workplace and workforce. These may include:
-Reducing physical interactions between workers, contractors, customers, and visitors and respecting physical distancing when any interactions occur.
-Improving ventilation in the workplace.
-Regularly cleaning surfaces, ensuring workplaces are clean and hygienic and providing adequate hand washing and sanitization facilities.
· Providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to workers where necessary and at no cost.
· Providing arrangements for isolating suspected cases and tracing every contact.
· Providing mental health support for staff.
· Providing training, education, and informational material about health and safety at work, including proper hygiene practices and the use of any workplace controls (including PPE).
Conclusively, the best way to ensure employees' safety is by transitioning to use virtual means where possible to avoid physical interaction and eliminate the risk of spreading the virus at the workplace. All organizations should work to ensure the safety of their employees amid these harsh times.