While many organizations are bringing employees back to their physical locations, experts forecast that the country will face COVID-19 and flu seasonal outbreaks at once. Therefore, this means that companies and their employees could have serious issues with handling a safe return to work.
The main reason you should be prepared for protecting your employees from influenza, especially in this season, it’s because it shares a variety of similarities with COVID-19. Which means that it will be hard to determine if an employee has contracted any of these viruses without testing.
For instance, both COVID-19 and flu share common signs and symptoms such as fever, cough, headache, difficulty breathing, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea. In both cases, it’s possible to spread the virus from person to person who are in close contact by releasing droplets from coughing, sneezing or speaking. Moreover, they can cause severe illness and complications to people within groups at highest risk such as pneumonia and respiratory failure.
In order to protect employees from exposures to seasonal flu and COVID-19, we have prepared a short guide with useful steps based on the CDC recommendations to handle this issue at your workplace:
Encourage sick employees to stay at home
To prevent getting sick and spreading the virus in the workplace, the CDC recommends to all employees who have cough, fever, difficult breathing and symptoms related with flu or COVID-19 to stay home until at least 24 hours after their fever ends. In addition to this, employers must develop and communicate the company’s sick leave policies and practices to all employees regarding workers in this situation.
Promote hygienic workplace standards
Hygienic practices are crucial to prevent virus’ transmissions among employees. Make sure you are providing resources that promote personal hygiene such as hand soap, antibacterial hand gel, disposable towels for clean work surfaces and disinfectants. You can also promote handwashing and cough etiquette through posting signs in restrooms and other work areas where proper.
Maintain your workplace clean
Given that your employees can be working during long periods of time in the same area, it is necessary to frequently clean and disinfect all shared work areas, surfaces and equipment such as telephones, door handles, copiers, elevators, among others. Additionally, you can encourage your employees to maintain their own work space clean.
Promote vaccination in your workplace
Due to the absence of a vaccine for COVID-19, one of the most recommended steps to protect from getting sick in this season is to encourage employees to get vaccinated. The CDC recommends employers to offer free on-site flu vaccinations at the workplace. However, if this is not possible, you can encourage your workers to look for getting vaccinated in the community. Offering flu shots can reduce costs by reducing absence due to illness as well as help prevent additional serious illness among employees.
As we previously said, determining if an employee contracts COVID-19 at the workplace can be difficult given the similarities that have in common with flu. Workplaces can become potential places with higher levels of COVID-19 transmissions, especially if employees perform activities in a closed environment where people are in close contact for a long period of time.
Kwema helps your company to prevent potential COVID-19 outbreaks through our Contact Tracing functionality. If someone is diagnosed positive for COVID-19, our technology allows you to trace where the employee was, identify who they may have come into contact with and classify all employees into 3 groups of risk and take action to prevent spread.