The impact of COVID-19 has left no aspect of daily life untouched. Everything from going to the airport or showing up to work every day has been completely altered as COVID-19 shows its effects on all financial markets and industries. This pandemic has revealed the need for specialized training, so National Safety Compliance has developed a complete infectious disease control training program to help protect your business, employees, and clients from further danger or disruption.
Businesses have been constantly working towards reducing the impact of COVID-19 by planning and preparing as far in advance as possible for the safety of employers, workers and customers.
Many are concerned about the potential risk for exposure, how to control sources of exposure and slow down the transmission of the disease. If employers move forward without proper planning and training employees, these concerns may become a reality.
Lack of continually planning and preparing will result in the consistent failure of employers’ attempts to address the challenges of the pandemic. In order to succeed in your efforts to keep your employees safe, you must have both sufficient resources and adequate training for your employees to perform their jobs under pandemic conditions.
Proper pandemic planning should be based on infection prevention, industrial hygiene practices and personal protective equipment (PPE) use. Moving forward, employers and employees should be mindful of this training guidance to identify any risks in workplace settings, determine the appropriate measures to implement and take the necessary steps to ensure a safe workplace for all.
Having an In-Depth Understanding of COVID-19
In order to understand how to prevent the spread of the disease, you have to first have a better understanding of the disease itself. There is a constant flow of new information as researchers discover more about the disease.
Here is what we currently know about the disease. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person when they are in close contact with one another or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
While infected surfaces and objects are not the primary way of acquiring the disease, it is possible to procure the virus by touching an infected surface or object and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
It is believed that those who are infected are most contagious when they are most symptomatic. Meaning, the more symptoms you show, the more contagious you are. But people can also carry and spread the disease while they are asymptomatic.
Symptoms often appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and include a cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell and many other potential symptoms.
It is important to stay up to date with current conditions during the pandemic. Many assume once they know the basic methods of prevention and symptoms to watch out for they are educated enough, but new information about the virus may require changes in how you operate your workplace.
Looking ahead, new information is still being sought about the virus to help understand the disease. It is vital that employers continue to stay up to date on all aspects of COVID-19 to better understand how to protect against infection, treat cases and provide safe workplaces as the economy continues to open back up.
Utilize valuable resources like the CDC, OSHA and local and state governmental agencies in order to stay up to date on new information.
Implementing Pandemic Preparedness Plan
The first step to safety for your employers during this outbreak is to develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan. While making this you should be mindful of current regulations and recommendations from local agencies to incorporate into your plan.
Your plan should prepare your business for increased worker absenteeism, change in commerce patterns, delivery and supply disruptions, the need for social distancing and conducting essential operations with a reduced workforce and cross-training.
You should also consider the level of risk associated with various job tasks and which controls may be necessary to address them. For instance, it is important to determine how and where your employees can be exposed, as well as each individuals risk factors.
These risk factors will be different for each employee. Protection and PPE should be provided for customers who come in close contact with others.
You should also gauge the health of your employees consistently and encourage them to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of disease. This can be done by putting policies into place that ensure employees report if they are experiencing any symptoms and designating a room to close off so they can be isolated until medical help can arrive.
Workplace Controls and OSHA Standards
The best way to control hazards is to systematically remove them from the workplace. A combination of control measures is necessary to reduce exposure.
One form of this is engineering controls. This can include installing high-efficiency air filters, ventilation rates, physical barriers like sneeze guards and pressure ventilation.
Another form is administrative controls which should be included within any workplace plan. Consider including policies like encouraging sick employees to stay home, minimizing contact between any people within the building, establishing flexible worksites, discontinuing non-essential work travel and providing employees with up to date education and training on pandemic risk factors.
You should also be mindful of safe work practices which is a form of control measures that emphasizes good hygiene and infection control practices. This includes frequent hand washing, respiratory etiquette and routine housekeeping procedures to clean and disinfect.
And the final form of control measures is to provide proper PPE. This can include gloves, masks, face shields and goggles. Beyond simply providing PPE, employers should also provide training on proper use of PPE by having them properly fitted, regularly inspected and properly removed, cleaned and stored.
A combination of all of these forms is the perfect method for eliminating any risks to your employees. Businesses must also be mindful of OSHA guidelines on PPE, the General Duty Clause and Bloodborne Pathogens.
OSHA has divided job tasks into four risk exposure levels in the shape of a pyramid to represent probable risk. This ranges from very high exposure risk which would include healthcare or morgue workers to lower exposure risk which includes jobs that don’t require any contact with people suspected of being infected and minimal contact with the public.
Overall, the best workplace control to put into place is to communicate openly with your employees about the current situation of the workplace, provide training as needed and ensure employees are informed of safety precautions being taken.
At National Safety Compliance, we offer a number of different ways to train your employees on infectious disease training and planning. Here on OSHA-Safety-Training.net we offer complete infectious disease training programs with videos, trainers guides, PowerPoint presentations, quizzes, printable completion certificates, wallet cards, and more on DVD, USB, or Digital Access. We also offer complete online training modules on our OSHA Online Training site. Also, make sure to purchase posters in our series of informational COVID-19 safety posters.
If you have any further questions, please comment below, reach out to us via e-mail, or call us at 877-922-7233.