In January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported the outbreak of a new disease called Coronavirus and the first cases appeared in 2019 in Hubei province, China. And since then, several international health agencies have treated Coronavirus (COVID-19) as a public health emergency of international concern.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading rapidly to different countries of the world, generating a social and economic impact at the speed that we must prepare to face the disease in the workplace in the coming days.
To have a real-time dimension, at the time (09:45 – 03/12/2020) our 8mm IdeasTeam was preparing recommendations on how to prepare the workplace to face the Coronavirus (Covid-19), in COVID-19 status panel, updated in real time by the WHO, more than 124 thousand cases, 4,607 deaths were confirmed and COVID-19 spread in 118 countries, with the highest concentration in China and Italy.
In Brazil, 49 cases were also confirmed, most of them concentrated in São Paulo, but patients are also being observed in the states of Rio de Janeiro, Paraná, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, Federal District, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul, among others.
WHO and public health authorities in several countries are taking steps to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. Specifically, in Brazil, some state governments are beginning to veto classes, public events and have begun to recommend that people in places of concentration, such as bars, restaurants, shopping malls, stay at tables at a minimum distance of 2 meters.
Since it was published by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference on Wednesday (03/11), the global outbreak of COVID-19 can now be described as a pandemic, characterized, first, by speed and scale of transmission of the disease and, secondly, because some countries do not face this threat with the level of political commitment necessary to control the disease, the situation is becoming more critical in Brazil.
While we wait for a strategy or plan of action on how and what are the fundamental public health measures that we must take to control COVID-19 and avoid a collapse or more problems for the Public Health System in Brazil, the 8mm Ideasteam asks Professionals of health and safety at work, technology users, customers, social media followers, employees, suppliers, investors, partners, friends and family, play a more preventive role and adopt more severe measures to prevent the spread of the disease. in work environments.
What are the symptoms and how is COVID-19 spread?
WHO maintains a page in the Web with guides about COVID-19 how people can protect themselves, with technical, clinical, and epidemiological guidelines for the virus, precautions to take when traveling, and a general Q&A section for the population about false rumors or fake news related to coronavirus (COVID-19).
The COVID-19 virus belongs to a family of viruses that cause respiratory infections in humans and animals, generally similar to a common cold. It is a disease that can come out of a mild and moderate condition and become serious or even cause death.
It is classified as a respiratory disease, so when someone has COVID-19 they may have a fever, shortness of breath, headache, cough, among other cold-like symptoms.
The virus is spread by person-to-person contact or by coughing, exhaling, or releasing saliva, drops of infected fluid fall onto nearby surfaces and objects such as tables, keyboards, chairs, or phones, and other people come in contact with the surface. .
In the workplace, people can catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects, and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. Another means of transmission is air, for example, workers who are standing at a distance of one meter from a person with COVID-19, can contract the virus by breathing the airborne drops. In other words, COVID-19 spreads similarly to the flu.
Most people infected with COVID-19 have mild symptoms and recover. However, some begin to experience other more serious infections of the disease, such as pneumonia and kidney complications, complications that require more hospital care.
The risk of serious illness increases with age: People over the age of 40 appear to be more vulnerable than those under the age of 40. People with weakened immune systems and conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung disease are also more vulnerable to serious illness.
In this case, watch out for workers who have some of these illnesses in their medical history and have flu-like symptoms.
Preparing the workplace for COVID-19
THE who, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), as well as the Canadian Center for Occupational Safety and Health (CCTHE H) has been constantly publishing information on how to prevent and control coronavirus (COVID-19) in the workplace.
The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) area can adopt simple and low-cost measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among employees, customers, suppliers and third parties. Our proposal is that everyone can practice and adopt the actions in the work environments, even if there are no confirmed cases in COVID-19 in the city or region.
In addition to preventing the spread of infections in the work environment, such as colds, flu, and stomach problems, they helped reduce risks, block the arrival of COVID-19, and reduce the business days that can be requested due to the absence of symptomatic workers . Among the measures that can be used to prevent COVID-19, we highlight:
- Define a policy that describes the measures that will be taken when people manifest symptoms of COVID-19. The policy should take into account internal communication measures, employee absence or absence procedures, and the requirements for a family member’s medical certificate or external communication.
- Frequently check that workplaces are clean and disinfected. Surfaces, for example, tables, chairs, handrails, among others, and objects (telephones, keyboards, machines, equipment for public use) must be cleaned regularly with disinfectant. Remember that one of the main ways that COVID-19 spreads is through contamination on surfaces touched by employees, customers, third parties, and suppliers.
- Promote a handwashing campaign among employees, customers, suppliers and third parties.. This is an action that can be facilitated by installing hand sanitizer dispensers in circulation locations in the workplace. Make sure the devices are recharged regularly.
- Reveal manual panel cleaning and other health care., verify if the local public health authority makes material available or develops its own. This measure of communication can be combined with conferences, Workshops official guide to occupational health and safety, briefings meetings and information on the intranet to promote hand cleaning.
- Make sure employees, suppliers, third parties, and customers have access to places to wash their hands with soap and water.. Remember that cleaning kills the virus on your hands and prevents the spread of COVID-19.
- Promote respiratory hygiene in the workplace.. This can be shown with posters promoting respiratory hygiene. Plus, offer guidance to reduce dust, ensure air circulation, open windows, prevent dirt buildup, and keep the workplace clean and organized. Tissues can be made available at workplaces for those who develop a runny nose or cough at work, as well as closed boxes for safe and hygienic disposal. Good respiratory hygiene prevents the spread of COVID-19 through the work environment.
- Advise employees or contractors on preventive care to take before traveling on business.. Suggest consulting health agencies or agencies about the COVID-19 emergency situation at the destination. Upon return, it is also necessary to monitor if the symptoms of COVID-19 appear, for at least 14 days, checking body temperature with certain frequency during the working day.
- Inform your employees, suppliers, third parties, and customers that if COVID-19 begins to spread in the community, anyone with a mild cough or low fever (37.3 ° C or higher) should remain in their place of residence.. It is recommended that at this critical time in the spread of the virus, they stay home (or work at home) if they have to take simple medications, such as acetaminophen / acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin, as they can mask the symptoms of a possible infection.
- Implement a process to identify and support people who may be at risk, without creating stigma and discrimination in the workplace. This may include people who have recently traveled to an area that reports cases or people who are at higher risk because they have serious illnesses such as diabetes, heart and lung disease, or are old.
- Avoid having a business meeting or any other type of work in the workplace in closed spaces with low air circulation. Design a plan B for situations in which employees have to stay at home, for example, to continue working temporarily remotely, using virtual mechanisms to exchange information or access company systems.
Communication, awareness and prevention
Communication, awareness and prevention are the main mechanisms that we can use in our work environments to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Keep communicating and promoting the message that people need to stay home even if they only have mild symptoms of COVID-19.
Your occupational health services, local public health authority, or other partners may develop campaign materials to promote this message. Make it clear to employees that this time they can count as sick leave.
Now is the time to prepare for COVID-19. Simple precautions and well-planned preventive actions can make a big difference in your workplace, home, and / or community. In addition, they are measures that also protect the performance of commercial or industrial activities.
We must strive to strike a good balance between protecting health, preventing economic (rising unemployment) and social disruption, and respecting workers’ rights. In this scenario that changes all the time, it is necessary to prepare people, health centers, prevent and treat cases to break the chain and reduce transmission.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus published a Note, today, 03/12/2020, in which he highlights that to save lives, we need to reduce transmission. This means finding and isolating as many cases as possible and quarantining the closest contacts that manifest symptoms.
Even if you can’t interrupt the transmission, you can slow down and protect health facilities, nursing homes, children’s schools, and other areas of the community. He also pointed out that this is a new virus and a new situation. We all need to find innovative ways to control and share the lessons elsewhere.
Remember that it is time to share knowledge, practices or any measure that can help reduce the risk of a more critical situation for our employees. We count on your support and a simple attitude to share!
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