2020 has been the year of coronavirus.
The rapid spread of coronavirus disease 2019, better known as COVID-19, has been considered a “public health emergency of international concern” since January, and with more cases emerging in the U.S. every day, employers and building owners are growing increasingly concerned about preventing an outbreak at their facility.
Fortunately, there are some proactive, preventive measures you can take to protect your business from coronavirus – or at least limit the potential for exposure and transmission among staff, students, patients and others who pass through your building.
Follow these health and safety tips to reduce the risk of coronavirus in your office, school building or healthcare facility.
1. Provide easy access to handwashing stations and sanitizing products.
The Center for Disease Control’s No. 1 recommendation for reducing the spread of coronavirus is to frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds – especially if you cough, sneeze or come in contact with a commonly-touched surface. Create signage around your building to ensure staff and visitors know where to wash their hands, and provide hand sanitizing products in common areas like the reception desk of your building.
2. Frequently clean and disinfect surfaces in your building.
No matter what kind of business you operate, there are likely a high number of frequently-touched surfaces in your building – coffee makers, copiers, door handles, equipment, etc. Cleaning these surfaces regularly with an appropriate disinfecting cleaner can help you destroy disease-causing germs and pathogens that may be transmitted through contact. This is especially important in a school setting, where it’s difficult to control and monitor young students’ hygiene practices.
3. Review standard cleaning and hygiene practices.
Review your building’s cleaning procedures and update schedules and responsibilities accordingly to ensure that all areas are cleaned regularly, if not more frequently than usual. Empower every staff member to play their part and assist with cleaning and disinfecting, and remind all building visitors to follow hygiene best practices while they are on-premises (covering their mouths when they cough or sneeze, washing hands, etc.).
4. Educate your staff on the risks and how to assess symptoms and potential exposure.
The CDC has offered interim guidance for assessing the risk of coronavirus exposure in areas that are not currently experiencing sustained community transmission of the virus, with special guidelines for healthcare settings. Ensure that your staff understand these guidelines, particularly when it comes to self-monitoring and observation. While they may not be exposed to the virus in the workplace, they could pick it up from a family member or close contact and easily spread it to colleagues.
5. Send employees home if they are showing viral symptoms.
The primary symptoms of COVID-19 are coughing, fever and shortness of breath. If one of your employees is showing these symptoms on the job, send them home immediately and encourage them to stay home until they are healthy. Being short-staffed for a week or two is preferable to risking the spread of disease among your entire workforce.
6. Have a plan in place in case of extended employee absence.
You may wish to develop a “standby” plan in place to ensure that your essential business functions can continue if one or two key employees become ill. Start by identifying the roles and skill sets of each team member, then cross-train as needed so everyone has job coverage in case of an extended health-related absence.
7. Leverage technology to reduce person-to-person contact.
Conference calls and video conferencing tools can help you conduct staff meetings remotely, thus limiting the amount of face-to-face exposure your employees have with each other. This can help keep all of your team in loop if they are staying home under self-quarantine. If you must meet in person, avoid handshakes and close personal contact, and be sure to wash your hands afterwards.
8. Do not ostracize, call out or punish an employee who becomes ill.
Even if your employees are generally cautious and follow best practices for cleanliness and hygiene, exposure to a contagious disease like COVID-19 is still possible. If one of your staff members does contract coronavirus, protect their privacy and do not discuss their health condition with other employees. You should also support, not punish them throughout their illness, and let them know your top concern is their recovery.
9. Hire a professional cleaning service to help.
The health and safety of your employees and building visitors should be a top priority, but you may not have time to follow the recommended cleaning and disinfecting protocols yourself. This is where a professional cleaning service like Scalzo Maintenance can help you achieve a hospital-grade visible clean.
For nearly 40 years, we’ve served local hospitals, offices, nursing homes, schools and other commercial buildings that want to disinfect their premises and prevent future bacterial and viral propagation. Scalzo follows the “clean, disinfect, and protect model,” cleaning for health as well as appearance. When we spray our SDVO EPA-registered hospital disinfectant cleaner throughout your building, we not only disinfect, but we remove pathogens. Then we are able to apply SD90, which is our 3 month antimicrobial surface protector, as an additional layer of security.
10. Remain alert and follow protocols recommended by public health organizations.
While you shouldn’t live your life in fear and panic, the public health risks of coronavirus are very serious. The best thing you can do is operate carefully, thoughtfully and with safety in mind.
Follow the CDC’s recommendations to wash hands frequently, avoid contact with individuals who are known to have the virus, and quarantine yourself if you believe you may have been exposed. Remember, whether its coronavirus, norovirus, MRSA or any other contagious disease, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”