Infectious diseases can easily spread between employees and throughout your workplace. If one member of your team gets sick, they’ll need to take precautions to make sure they don’t infect the rest of your staff. Some diseases can spread faster than others, especially during a massive outbreak when scientists are still trying to figure out how to best contain the virus.
China is currently dealing with the outbreak of a new coronavirus with some cases spreading to the U.S. Coronaviruses are a special group of viruses that affect predominantly mammals and birds. They tend to cause respiratory problems in humans with symptoms resembling the common cold, but some forms of coronavirus can be much more serious. The chances of those in the U.S. contracting the coronavirus remain extremely low, however the government has restricted all non-essential travel between the U.S. and China to limit the spread of infection.
Regardless of how this new coronavirus evolves over the next few weeks and months, your business needs to protect itself from the spread of respiratory illnesses and other infectious diseases. Without proper hygiene and the right safety equipment, a simple infection could easily spiral out of control, putting some members of your team out of work for days or weeks on end.
Whether it’s a new illness or just a case of the common cold, use these tips to prevent the spread of disease and keep your team as healthy as possible.
Personal Hygiene Tips and Reminders
To prevent the spread of germs and other illness-causing bacteria, you and your team will need to practice proper personal hygiene. Germs tend to live on the skin and hands. You and your colleagues may touch dozens, if not hundreds, of different surfaces throughout the day.
That’s why it’s important to wash your hands frequently throughout the day. Wash them for at least 20 seconds using soap and water. Make sure you cover all surfaces when washing. If you haven’t had a chance to wash your hands, avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
If someone is sick, avoid touching their hands or getting too close. You can always greet them with a wave instead of shaking their hand.
When you don’t have access to a sink with soap and water, you can also use alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel to quickly remove germs and bacteria throughout the day. You can carry around a packet of wipes on your person or install a series of sanitizer dispensers around your workplace. Make sure you keep dispensers at eye level, so they stay visible.
What to Do If You’re Feeling Sick
Some of your workers are bound to get sick from time to time. Encourage your staff to speak up if they’re feeling under the weather. Sick employees should stay home from work whenever possible to reduce the spread of infection. Send some of your employees home early if they are having health issues.
If you are suffering from flu-like symptoms, try to avoid close contact with others and encourage your colleagues to do the same. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Then, throw the tissue away and wash your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer gel. Be sure to clean and disinfect any surfaces you may have touched throughout the day.
The chances of one of your team members coming down with the coronavirus remain extremely low, unless they’ve traveled to China recently. Symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, coughing, shortness of breath, trouble breathing, body aches, sore throat, vomiting, and diarrhea. Anyone with these symptoms should visit their doctor or an urgent care clinic as soon as possible.
There’s currently no cure for the coronavirus, but most people with a human coronavirus will recover on their own. If you or one of your colleagues is suffering from flu-like symptoms, take over-the-counter pain and fever medications. You can also use a room humidifier or take a hot shower to help ease your sore throat or cough. You should also consume plenty of fluids and get lots of rest when combating the cold or another illness.
Protecting Yourself from Infected Patients
Healthcare workers and other types of professionals working near those with the coronavirus need to take extra precaution to make sure they don’t get infected. Care providers often need to work near their patients, so the rules mentioned above may not apply.
In addition to regularly washing their hands with soap and water, healthcare workers and other professionals will need to wear respirator masks when dealing directly with coronavirus patients. You’ve probably seen hundreds of Chinese citizens wearing face masks on the news to prevent the spread of infection, but simple cloth masks can only do so much to prevent infection.
The CDC recommends wearing a N95 respirator mask, a common type of industrial face mask. These respirators filter out 95 percent of particles at least 0.3 microns in diameter. These face masks need to be individually adjusted to make sure they fit correctly. There shouldn’t be any gaps or openings between the lining of the mask and the person’s face.
Most germs and bacteria spread through the air. Wearing a respirator mask will be your first line of defense against the spread of infection. Look for high-quality respirators with built-in filters, full face masks, and other accessories for added protection on the job. You can also invest in a fit testing kit to make sure all your masks fit properly.
The coronavirus continues to spread throughout China with only a few reported cases here in the U.S. Reducing the spread of germs and bacteria will help you keep your team as healthy as possible. Talk to your employees about the tips mentioned above and post personal hygiene signs and reminders around your workplace. You and your team can work with more peace of mind when you have access to the right safety gear.