COVID-19 has become a worldwide pandemic. Therefore, regulations and legislations are different per country and province or state. Even so, WHO health guidelines agree upon some steps employers can take to protect their employees in the workspace.
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that companies consider daily in-person or virtual health checks, including interviewing each employee for symptoms along with checking their temperature before anyone enters a workplace.
Both CDC and WHO insist that health checks are not a replacement for other protective measures such as social distancing, mask-wearing, and engineering controls (including proper ventilation). These precautions help protect employees from asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers — carriers who don’t show any symptoms.
Health risks and preventive measures
COVID-19 is most commonly transmitted through direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person (generated through coughing and sneezing) and less often via contaminated surfaces. Each job and occupation has different COVID-19 risks. WHO has rated workplace risks into three categories: low, medium, or high.
Low – jobs or tasks without frequent close contact with other individuals that aren’t in regular contact with possible infected COVID-19 carriers. For example, office spaces with desks a good distance apart.
Medium – jobs or tasks with frequent contact with other individuals. These positions are based in locations with common or frequent reported COVID-19 cases. For example, public transport, bus stations, or food markets.
High – Jobs with high potential for contact with other individuals who are known or suspected of having COVID-19. For example, nurses, doctors, first responders.
Most offices fall in the low-risk bracket. Even so, it’s still critical to plan how to make your workplace as safe as possible. Depending on your office layout, how many employees there are, how often they need to collaborate, and how spacious your office is, your workspace might be a higher risk than the next.
A recent study demonstrated that approximately 58% of employees don’t feel safe returning to the office while COVID-19 is still widespread. Implementing rules and standards to keep employees safe and healthy can go a long way in alleviating their concerns.
Educate your employees on regular hygiene including hand washing and hand sanitizer. Hands should be cleaned before entering the office, before and after eating, after bathroom breaks, after contact with other employees or surfaces, and after any other instances that involve potential contamination.
Have your employees wear face masks whenever they’re away from their desks. Additionally, introduce measures to keep a distance of at least one meter between individuals. If possible, take precautions to reduce office density by implementing shifts and staff rotations.
Bonus: Find a way to get your employees their daily coffee without the risk of contamination. Order individual cups from a local coffee shop, have a sanitization kit at each coffee maker, hire a helper to distribute coffee throughout the day. They’ll surely appreciate it.
A daily health questionnaire
Establish a daily health questionnaire that employees and visitors must answer before setting foot in the office. Here are some standard questions that employees and visitors should be asked before entering the office:
Fever and/or chills (an oral or axillary temperature above 37.6°C (99.7°F) or ear temperature above 38.1°C (100.6°F) is considered a fever)
Cough or barking cough (croup)
Shortness of breath
Decrease or loss of smell or taste
Runny or congested nose
Long-lasting muscle aches
Balance problems or dizziness
Have you traveled outside of the country in the last 14 days?
Have you been in contact with a known carrier of COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
Have you been in contact with someone experiencing any of the above symptoms or who has traveled outside of the country in the past 14 days?
Has a health practitioner told you that you should be currently self-isolating?
Joan’s free health screening and visitor check-in
In light of COVID-19 and the need for workers to get back to the office, Joan is rolling out a free health screening and visitor check-in feature as additional features of our Joan Desk Booking App. Employees and visitors can answer the health questionnaire virtually before arriving at the office. If the user answers “yes” to any of the symptom or contamination questions, the app politely tells them to stay home.
Using the Joan app for health screening automates the cumbersome daily health screening and visitors check-in, leaving you with more time for your other tasks, while still allowing you a complete overview of anyone that entered the office.
Until the release of these two handy features, you can perform daily health checks with the help of the above questionnaire.