With reported cases of coronavirus in several countries and the declaration of the virus as a public health emergency, workers and employers are starting to worry.
And while there are reasons to worry, there is a lot of misinformation, too.
So, instead of spreading hoaxes, we decided to take the bull by the horns and answer a simple question:
What steps can employers take to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the workplace?
Let’s take a look!
What is the coronavirus?
Right off the bat, let’s start by saying that coronavirus isn’t a single virus, but a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections ranging from pneumonia to common cold. The coronavirus that people are scared about is the COVID-19 (but most news outlets won’t tell you that).
Where did it start, where has it spread to, and how rapidly is it growing?
The virus has spread fast since it first appeared in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, infecting 79,331 people across the world.
With an incubation period of at least two weeks, coronavirus has spread further despite travel bans in China. Also, now that health authorities believe that infected people can spread the virus before showing symptoms, governments and workplaces have begun to tighten their safety rules.
As of today, more than 25 countries are infected with coronavirus, and we hope the list doesn’t keep growing. Also, the biggest spike in the number of infected people was observed on February 12, but now, the numbers are stable.
What does the coronavirus mean for companies?
Minimizing the spread of coronavirus is important to keep employees safe and productive.
But you already know that, don’t you?
In worksites that employ contractors, for instance, this is particularly important because contractors often perform their duties in other workplaces, getting in contact with other — potentially infected — people.
The main issue here is how can you maintain safety in the face of coronavirus?
A good way of doing it is by encouraging employees who feel unwell to work from home when possible.
When it comes to contractors, if your city is infected, postpone their visits or pre-screen them to prevent potential outbreaks.
Now, if your city is safe, follow the advice on coronavirus that your health authority has issued. Check if your workers have recently travelled to China or other infected countries, and proactively check your workers to prevent spread.
Take a look at these tips for caring for your employees:
How can companies care for their employees?
Start by identifying any risks and make an emergency plan.
An employer should talk to their workers about what could happen during a health emergency: what they would need, whom they should contact, and how they should take care of themselves.
A good idea for companies is to create an emergency workflow that workers can follow in case of an emergency.
Check out these tips for coronavirus preparedness.
Tips for coronavirus preparedness
Here are some actions you can take to minimize the risk of coronavirus spreading to your workplace.
- Encourage your workers to follow basic personal actions to prevent the spread of the disease. These include; washing hands regularly, staying home if sick, and covering coughs or sneezes.
- Provide appropriate protection to workers and contractors who may require it due to the nature of their work.
How Sine can help against coronavirus
Visitor management systems like Sine enable workplaces to enforce their security protocols effectively. Businesses concerned with improving their on-site safety can screen workers and contractors and evaluate risks through prescreening and safety workflows.
Here are some features of Sine that can help you prevent the coronavirus:
Prescreening and check-in forms
By now you know that Sine can help you replace paper sign-in sheets. You can also use Sine to send invites to workers, contractors, and visitors. Whether it’s for a meeting, a job interview, or a site inspection, when you send the invite, Sine prompts you to fill out some key information about your visitor, along with a link to your workplace’s check-in form.
Or, you could just prompt all your visitors and contractors to fill out a check-in form when they arrive on-site, but we advise you to prescreen workers online with our prescreen feature before they go to your workplace.
Creating safety workflows
With Sine Workflows, you can send the prescreening questions to your visitors before they arrive on site. You can customize your workflows to include inductions, permits, access permits, and questions about their health to check for signs of coronavirus.
That way, instead of welcoming potentially infected workers to your workplace, you can ask them questions in advance and approve or reject them before they can access your worksite. Also, even if your workers have completed the workflows, you can still veto them based on their responses, in order to keep your workplace safe.
Questions to include in your check-in forms and workflows
We’ve created an easy to implement screening check-in form to ensure the safety of your Site and provided a poster to accompany the form for you to use.
You can download the above image here to add to your check-in forms or the PDF version here to print out.
Once you’ve downloaded the above image and either printed it out or added it to your check-in form, you can add in the appropriate questions:
- Please confirm you have read and understood the above COVID-19 guidelines?
- Have you travelled in the last 14 days to any international territory currently cautioned by local government authorities?
With these two questions, you’ll be able to get an idea of where a person has travelled to and if they pose a risk to the rest of your workforce.
Pro tip – how to set up check-in form screening questions
When you’re setting up your check-in form from the Sine dashboard, upload the symptoms and hygiene image from above into the upload section.
Then, set up each of the questions in separate sections using the multiple-choice question type. Add ‘Yes’ as a response and ‘No’ as the other, for both questions.
For the first question, allow the answer ‘Yes’ and for the second question allow the answer ‘No’ by switching on ‘allowed’ next to the possible response.