Coronavirus in the Workplace: A Helpful Guide for Employers (In Essential Services)

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With widespread fear and panic that has ensued with the coronavirus outbreak, it’s not always easy to know how to navigate these unknown waters, especially as an employer and someone who has the responsibility of looking out for the health and safety of large groups of people.  

Although most of us will be staying indoors during lockdown, there will be those select companies, providing essential services. In these cases, it’s quite likely that business owners or managers have already taken decisive action and devised plans to keep their team safe.  

But if they haven’t already worked out how to deal with coronavirus in the workplace, then we have a few suggestions on what they can do to stay safe.   

Plan of Action 

If business managers don’t have a clear Plan of Action (POA) for how they intend to handle the pandemic, their staff will lose confidence in their leadership abilities and start to question whether they are truly concerned about their well-being. It is preferable that companies send clear written communications (instead of holding a meeting) on how they plan to tackle the spread of coronavirus in the workplace and frequently update them on their POA as the virus progresses.  

Emergency Contacts 

They should ask their staff to send them an updated list of their emergency contacts: who to call if they are in need of help, so that if anything should go wrong, they can act quickly and get the help needed right away.  

It is also a wise idea to print out a list of important numbers such as the governmental WhatsApp account that answers any COVID-19 queries (060 012 3456) and the Department of Health’s National Coronavirus Hotline (0800 029 999). 

Existing Health Conditions 

They should ask each employee to list any conditions they have that may affect their health and put them at risk for contracting COVID-19. With this list, they can decide on the best ways to look out for employees who are most vulnerable. If they already have a list, they should consider updating it, so that it is as accurate as possible.  

Those most at risk are people with respiratory conditions such as asthma, women who are pregnant, those over 70 and, of course, those with chronic illness such as AIDS, tuberculosis and cancer.  

Training Your Staff 

All staff should be trained on the symptoms they should look out for, such as fever, coughing and shortness of breath. Managers can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site to find printable flyers and information on identifying symptoms, how to stop the spread of germs and what do if employees are sick. The Western Cape Department of Health advises that if people develop flu-like symptoms, they should immediately self-quarantine and call the National Coronavirus Hotline or Provincial Hotline. They also advise on calling your doctor or health practitioner for further advice on what to do next.  

Employers or managers in the essential services should not assume everyone knows what to do and has accurate information about COVID-19. We live in a time where fake news is prevalent!  

If you know of any fellow employers who need a little guidance on tackling coronavirus in the workplacethen share this blog with them to help them out. This national disaster calls for strong leadership as well as consideration for others in all we do.