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Building a Covid-19 Compliant Workspace for Employees Returning to Work 29 June, 2020   

Covid-19 has left an indelible impact on how we operate as a team, a community, a workforce, and an organization. As we gear up to go back to work, our existing co-working and collaborating concepts need some rethinking. Primarily since so little is known about the disease, and there is no cure yet. Expecting employees who have recovered from Covid-19 to rejoin work can cause anxiety – not only to the employee but also to all the others around them. 

 

Prominent industry organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) have collectively arrived at Employee Health and Safety (EHS) guidelines specific to Covid-19 for organizations. The instructions are to ensure a safe return to work and making every workspace safe or 'Covid-19 compliant.' 

 

This blog highlights some of these critical guidelines for businesses planning to restart their operations.

 

Getting a Covid-19 recovered employee to resume work: What employers need to do  

 

In the current scenario, organizations need to be extra vigilant about all employees' health, especially those that make a comeback after recovery from Covid-19. This section explains what employers need to do before getting a Covid-19 recovered employee back to work.

 

Categorizing Covid-19 Cases

 

There are still many uncertainties surrounding Covid-19 and regarding their symptoms, infectiousness, severity, treatment, and recovery. Public health organizations are trying to make sense of what they have seen so far. Based on the severity of the infection, they have been able to categorize patients as follows:

  

Category 1: Unconfirmed Covid-19 patients – Patients who were not tested for Coronavirus but exhibited the symptoms and were in self-quarantine 

  

Category 2: Asymptomatic but confirmed Covid-19 patients

  

Category 3: Confirmed Covid-19 patients who recovered without hospitalization

  

Category 4: Confirmed Covid-19 patients who underwent hospitalization 

Employees falling in any one of the above categories need to resume work on fulfilling the conditions mentioned below by the health associations.

 

Adherence to guidelines for Covid-19 positive cases returning to work  

Covid-19 positive employees should return to work only after complete recovery. Complete recovery implies a whole set of conditions, some of these are listed below.

 

§  Employee does not have a fever without a fever-reducing medicine for at least three days (72 hours).

§  The patient has noticeable and visible improvements in the respiratory system (such as cough /breathlessness) for at least a week (seven days) after the symptoms first appeared. 

§  The patient undergoes double tests where two consecutive tests are conducted with a gap of 24 hours and, both are negative. 

§  It is recommended that the patient limit contact with others for three days after isolation ends.

 

Employees can return to work only after meeting the above conditions and the guidelines laid by prominent organizations like CDC, OSHA, and AIHA.

 

Returning employees should be aware of the caution they need to exercise, especially limiting their physical interaction with others. At work, they must maintain the six-feet distance, avoid shaking hands, wear a mask, gloves, any other gear as mandated by the job. 

 

For more information, check the guidelines recommended by the CDC here.

(Link https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html)

 

Employee health and hygiene at workplace

Organizations need to be extra cautious about employee health and hygiene.

§  Employee health screening is mandatory and should be done every day as a quick detection and proactive preventive measure. The observations must be recorded. Any recordings outside the permissible range can call for further action, like asking the employee to undergo quarantine.

§  Employers need to scale up hygienic practices across the premises, such as disinfecting commonly used surfaces, protecting keypads at sign-in or payment points, ensuring uninterrupted supply of sanitizer at all times in strategic locations.  

§  As hand washing is one of the most effective defenses, employers need to make sure that employees have ready access to washing facilities. Moreover, these facilities should be well-stocked with soap and paper towels. 

§  Distribution of alcohol-based hand sanitizers and sanitizing wipes should be done throughout the workplace. Routine cleaning of all frequently touched surfaces such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs is essential. Increased cleaning of common areas using standard cleaning agents can also reduce the risk of the spread of respiratory disease. 

 

To know more about employers' role, refer to the CDC's "Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers" here.


 

Incident reporting and management

 

Return to work request management system can be very instrumental, it can be used to implement all the necessary steps to make sure employee and organizations are ready when the employee is coming back at work. Using an Incident Management system with custom action plan is highly recommended to respond to all Covid-19 related concerns quickly and correctly. The incident management and reporting solution should ensure a quick action for a Covid-19 related emergency. Ideally, the incident management system should be a central portal where employees across locations and offices can report an incident or request coming back to work and expect a response and resolution.

 

Sounds daunting? Allow technology to give a helping hand and make you Covid-19 compliant. 

The new guidelines, regulations, and practices in the post-pandemic situation add many new operational responsibilities and is a bit overwhelming. More so as there are different aspects to it, like detailed surveillance, monitoring, communication, operational precision, and management. 

 

Besides, the treatment of this situation differs and demands quick response speed with no tolerance for any delays.

 

 In such a scenario, a tool that can automate and quicken this can be life-changing, literally, and figuratively. Reporting, handling, tracking, and monitoring operations can be automated with tools like AQL Technologies' Covid-19 Rapid Response Application.  

 

Rapid Response Application for Covid-19 from AQL Technologies 

 

AQL's Covid-19 Rapid Response Application helps organizations track their employee coronavirus concerns, view their incident, response, and health status in rich dashboards, and provide a portal with relevant CDC documentation and other resources. A web-based application built on the Microsoft platform AQL's Covid-19 Response tool is compatible with Office 365, Azure & Power platform.  

 

Supported by a desktop and mobile self-service portal, the Covid-19 response tool fully addresses employers' and employees' concerns about Covid-19. 

 

Here are some of the key features of the product.  

 

Customization:  Can be customized as per an organization's unique response workflows, processes, and policies.

 

Portal: Serves as a portal for making announcements and sharing relevant information. Updates, FAQs, and newsworthy articles can be shared through the tool.

 

Reporting: Offers enhanced reports and dashboards that give management improved ability to manage teams and employees during the Covid-19 times effectively.

 

Contact Tracing: Maintains employees' personal and work emergency contacts along with their current projects. Equipped to handle emergency alert notification via email, text messages, phone calls as needed. Capable of Contact traceability by tracking employee's daily contact with others, reducing notification time in case of Covid-19 positive outbreak.

 

Incident management: Can keep in touch with quarantine employees regularly. Tracks Quarantines & Back to work employees.

 

Scheduling: Allows to manage schedules – whether onsite or remotely - of employees to ensure optimization.

 

Operational assistance: Capable of sharing trigger requests and concerns for sanitization.  

 

Transparency: Allows businesses to appoint a Covid-19 response team with clearly chalked out responsibilities.

 

An enterprise-level application like this can indeed be a powerful tool to restart business operations and put employees at ease. Moreover, it also puts the responsibility of action on every individual, making it a healthy and transparent ecosystem. To know more about the software solution,

write to us today at reachit@aqltech.com or
visit our website aqltech.com/health-safety

 

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