Preventing COVID-19 At the Workplace

In January 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of a new coronavirus disease in Hubei Province, China to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. WHO stated there is a high risk of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spreading to other countries around the world. On 27th February 2020 Nigeria confirms the first case of CONVID- 19 in Lagos state from an Italian that flew into Nigeria on 25th February 2020.

The World Health Organisation,  Federal Government of Nigeria and the Lagos state Government are taking action to prevent  COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria. All sections of our society – including businesses and employers – must play a role if we are to stop the spread of this disease.

How COVID-19 spreads

When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid. Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects – such as desks, tables or telephones. People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. If they are standing within 1 or 2 meters of a person with COVID-19 they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them. In other words, COVID-19 spreads in a similar way to flu. Most persons infected with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and recover. However, some go on to experience more serious illness and may require hospital care. The risk of serious illness rises with age: people over 50 seem to be more vulnerable than those under 50. People with weakened immune systems and people with conditions such as diabetes, heart, and lung disease are also more vulnerable to serious illness.

Simple ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace

The low cost measures below will help prevent the spread of infections in your workplace, such as colds, flu, and stomach bugs, and protect your customers, contractors and employees.

Employers should start doing these things now, even if COVID-19 has not arrived in the communities where they operate.

  • Make sure your workplaces are clean and hygienic
  • Surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) need to be with disinfectant regularly
  • Promote regular and thorough handwashing by employees, contractors and customers
  • Put sanitizing hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace. Make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled
  • Make sure that staff, contractors and customers have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water. This is Because washing kills the virus on your hands and prevents the spread of COVID-19
  • Promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace. Ensure that face masks and / or paper tissues are available at your workplaces, for those who develop a runny nose or cough at work, along with closed bins for hygienically disposing of them. This is because good respiratory hygiene prevents the spread of COVID-19

Things to consider when you and your employees travel

  • Advise employees and contractors to consult national travel advice before going on business trips.
  • Brief your employees, contractors and customers that if COVID-19 starts spreading in your community anyone with even a mild cough or low grade fever (37.30 C or more) needs to stay at home. They should also stay home (or work from home)
  • Keep communicating and promoting the message that people need to stay at home even if they have just mild symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Display posters with this message in your workplaces. Combine this with other communication channels commonly used in your organization or business.

Before traveling

  • Make sure your organization and its employees have the latest information on areas where COVID-19 is spreading. You can find this at https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/
  • Based on the latest information, your organization should assess the benefits and risks related to upcoming travel plans.
  • Avoid sending employees who may be at higher risk of serious illness (e.g. older employees and those with medical conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung disease) to areas where COVID-19 is spreading.
  • Make sure all persons travelling to locations reporting COVID-19 are briefed by a qualified professional (e.g. staff health services, health care provider or local public health partner)
  • Consider issuing employees who are about to travel with small bottles (under 100 CL) of alcohol-based hand rub. This can facilitate regular hand-washing.

While traveling:

  • Encourage employees to wash their hands regularly and stay at least one meter away from people who are coughing or sneezing
  • Ensure employees know what to do and who to contact if they feel ill while traveling.
  • Ensure that your employees comply with instructions from local authorities where they are traveling. If, for example, they are told by local authorities not to go somewhere they should comply with it.

When you or your employees return from traveling:

  • Employees who have returned from an area where COVID-19 is spreading should monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days and take their temperature twice a day.
  • If they develop even a mild cough or low grade fever (i.e. a temperature of 37.3 C or more) they should stay at home and self isolate. This means avoiding close contact (1 meter or nearer) with other people, including family members. They should also telephone their healthcare provider or the local public health department, giving them details of their recent travels and symptoms
  • Promote regular teleworking across your organization. If there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community the health authorities may advise people to avoid public transport and crowded places. Teleworking will help your business keep operating while your employees stay safe.

To get accurate information about  COVID -19 in Nigeria, contact the following numbers:

08023169485

08033565529

08052817243

You can also follow these websites and social media platforms:

ncdc.gov.ng