Today, our need for preventative measures and workplace contagious disease policy is imperative for managing communicable diseases in the workplace. There are around 80 reportedly “communicable diseases” that are reviewed and analyzed for numbers, the spread of the disease, impact, and much more. Some of the few listed as a Contagious Illness are Flue, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, HIV/Aids, Measles, MRSA, Tuberculosis, West Nile Virus, Zika, Coronavirus, and more.
The latest threat to humanity has been the Coronavirus, which was identified in China as a global health emergency, directed by the World Health Organization at the end of January 2020. Borders to countries were closed, flights were suspended, and many businesses closed for public access to society. Employers of both essential and non-essential businesses were faced with the need to adopt or revamp policies that would prevent the spread of contagious illnesses, and at this time, Coronavirus among employees.
There is no question that employers are legally responsible and potentially liable for employees and customers who get infected in the Workplace, not just with the Coronavirus but any contagious illness. It becomes imperative to have an action plan and policy in place to reduce risk, protect employees, reduce employer liability, and have continuing operations to ensure a safer work environment now and going forward. Implementing programs to combat contagious illnesses in the Workplace is your alignment with the policy and procedures necessary to equip your workforce with the training they need to reduce or eliminate the spread of contagious illnesses. It is imperative that all employees are trained because the spread can start from one person.
Taking Steps to Prevent Spread of Contagious Illness
As an employer, you do have tools to build a safer environment at work and equip your employees with the steps they need to help prevent the start or spread of contagious illnesses. This should be a key part of every business workplace contagious disease policy.
Action Plan: Creating an action plan of procedures that include training, preventative measures, action if an infection occurs, how to treat, recovery times, and reintegrate staff once they have recovered will provide everyone with the steps to take to reduce fear and uncertainty. Having your workforce know what to do will also bring solutions to the table quicker, and they will know where to go to get information on the action to take at that time.
Training: Training your staff on the necessary steps, can your staff confidently answer these four questions?
- How can I avoid contagious illnesses?
- How can I tell if I have a contagious illness?
- What should I do if I have a contagious illness?
- When is it safe to return to work after I’ve been sick?
If they are not able to answer the following questions, we suggest you provide our Combating Contagious Illness in the Workplace Training. A 22-minute course with over 50 live-action video clips and ways to prevent, diagnose, treat, recover, and reintegrate.
Testing: For some employers, you might want to take the extra precautionary steps of testing, check with your HR for additional rules and regulations on testing for various types of illnesses in the Workplace.
For the current Coronavirus, we are offering through our mobile lab partner, Mobile Testing, regarding the Coronavirus and returning to work. (Currently for Los Angeles and Orange County)There might be options in your area if you are in another city or state.
– Temperatures over 100.4 degrees is an indication of infection
Viral PCR/Nucleic Acid Testing
– Positive: indicates potential past exposure/infection
– Negative: past exposure/inflection unlikely
Antibody (Ab) Testing
– Positive: indicates potential past exposure/infection
– Negative: past exposure/infection unlikely
– Positive: indicates active infection
– Negative: may require confirmatory PCR testing
Return to Work Procedures and Questioning:
You can include all the steps one must do returning to work and asking all the essential questions that would help identify any exposure, such as international travel, exposure, or caring for someone ill, etc.
Workplace: You’ll want to provide ample hand sanitizers, masks, cleaning more often on counters, pin pads, bathrooms, and breakrooms and having a point person on staff to handle the questions and to keep informed on the CDC updates, latest news, and the most recent recommendations. Enhancing communication with your workforce will be another layer of regarding ongoing health and safety.
Types of Workplace Contagious Disease Policy Put in Place All Over the U.S.
Cities and states can differ regarding guidelines that are put in place to keep workplaces safe. Governors and mayors have the power to make their own safety rules and implement the guidelines and regulations for these matters. No matter what rules are in place in your business’ area, policies must be in place to protect everyone, including you, your employees, and clients.
For instance, in California, Governor Newsom said specific guidelines were developed to reopen office buildings. This included getting training for employees regarding safety and self-screening. Temperature and/or symptom screenings are to be done daily for employees.
Restaurants must have either disposable menus or have their menus online so customers can view them on their smartphones or iPads. There can be no shared condiment containers sitting on the tables. Many other rules apply to keep diners safe.
One shop in Florida has been maintaining its regular daily cleaning routines but also stepping up sanitizing tables, counters, doors handles, and register areas during the daytime open hours. Employees are requested to wash and sanitize hands often while at work. They are required to stay home if they don’t feel well.
The most critical time is now, and many businesses don’t have the resources to roll out extensive training for their team members. Such businesses have often benefited from learning online or eLearning, as it is a solution for various businesses but especially small to medium businesses. It can be quite a dynamic environment, with the learner able to reinforce their learning ability at its speed.
There are three different ways of learning that an effective training course offers. These are visual, or learning by seeing, auditory, or learning by hearing, and kinesthetic/tactile, or learning by doing. Many young employees have grown up in a media-based culture, and so visual has become the standard way of learning in many cases. Auditory can help those that learn better through auditory methods, as well as those who are visually impaired learners. Learning by doing can include interactive games or puzzles which help retain previously studied materials.
Training for Your Workforce
The Compliance Training Group has developed a course called Combating Contagious Illness in the Workplace. In both English and Spanish, the course presents best practices that avoid contracting and spreading infections such as COVID-19, the flu, and any other similar illnesses. Recommendations by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control are incorporated into the curriculum. It is short 22 minutes covering vital material in worker and customer safety. Students of the course discover how viral and bacterial infections spread, how to assess the use of a mask, how to identify symptoms, how to evaluate if they have contracted a contagious illness, methods of disinfecting surfaces, and many other factors.
Having workers understand how to combat contagious illnesses in the Workplace will give the employer the advantage of being ahead of the game in protecting customers and employees. An effective workplace contagious disease policy make the difference in successfully managing communicable diseases in the workplace.
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