Corona Virus – How to Protect Your Employees

On the upside, globally the new cases of Corona Virus are decreasing in number in some regions. But, currently, here in the U.S. we have not yet reached the top of the curve. So, the numbers of new Corona Virus cases are still rising across the country every day. Here are some good basic recommendations from OHSA and other leading experts on public health, to help keep your workers safe in your septic service or portable restroom rental service while this pandemic runs its course.

What’s the Corona Virus?

The Corona Virus (COVID-19) is from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that attacks the respiratory system. The virus has been spreading around the globe over the past few months and has become a pandemic. This public health crisis now impacts nearly all business operations as well as the daily life of all U.S. workers.
Corona Virus symptoms can range from very mild to very extreme, and outcomes can be fatal. Symptoms can include fever, cough, and breathing problems, among others. It is possible to be infected with the virus but experience no symptoms at all. Infected people without symptoms can also spread the virus. The CDC advises that Corona Virus symptoms may begin anytime within 2-14 days after a person is exposed to the contagion.
Adapting to the necessary social distancing and navigating through routine activities while trying to maintain personal protections against infection have become especially challenging for companies in which employees work in close proximity, handle products, or perform face-to-face sales or services.

How Can I Make the Workplace Safer from COVID-19?

To reduce the risk of workers’ exposure to the Corona Virus in your workplace, take some steps recommended by OSHA and other public health authorities. Keep in mind that the measures you should take in your business depend on your unique environment, the kinds of job tasks each employee performs, and their risk factors for contracting the virus at locations outside your workplace.
Start by reviewing OSHA’s guidelines for helping employers prevent the spread of COVID-19 in work environments: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf. See the publication’s instructions for implementing safety protocols based on individual workers’ degrees of infection risk.
Here are the more general minimum measures OSHA is recommending to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces:
1. Keep up with new information coming out every day from national and local authorities.
2. Adapt your safety systems to address the specific risks individual employees incur during the job tasks they perform internally or remotely and their other particular risk factors, like age, pregnancy, or medical conditions.
3. Prepare your team for cross-departmental work, in the event of increasing absenteeism.
4. Temporarily downsize your daily operations, stagger employees’ work shifts, implement controls to facilitate social distancing, encourage PPE, emphasize virus-prevention habits, for workers and all other people entering your facility.

How Can My Workers Help Avoid COVID-19 Infection?

Workers can help protect themselves and each other and the general public by adopting habits to prevent becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus. Provide the necessary facilities and supplies to enable these key virus-prevention practices, and routinely reinforce their importance to your staff:
• Wash hands frequently with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds.
• Do not touch your face.
• Practice social distancing of at least 6 feet at all times possible.
• Avoid sharing phones, tools, supplies, equipment, etc.
• Cover all coughs and sneezes.
• Stay home if you’re sick, or go home immediately if you become sick while at work.
• Stay home, if possible, to help reduce the number of people in the workplace.
• Use tissues and trash cans provided.
• Work via telecommuting as much as possible.
• Stagger your schedule in coordination with other workers, if possible.
• Disinfect tools, surfaces, etc., after using them, as appropriate, using EPA-approved disinfectant.
• Monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19 infection, if you think you may have been exposed.
• Use PPE, as appropriate, including face masks (surgical mask), protective goggles, and rubber gloves, if you can tolerate wearing these items.
• Stay away from areas where other employees are entering or working, as appropriate.
• Encourage your fellow workers to follow all protective measures to avoid becoming infected or spreading the virus.
• Ask questions if you are worried about your health and safety at work, or about leave, pay or any other possible problems related to the COVID-19 virus and your employment…

What Environmental Controls Can I Use Against COVID-19?

Blocking a virus from entry or removing it from the environment systematically is typically more effective overall than relying on workers to prevent exposure to a contagion. Although you may not be able to completely rid your workplace of the risk of COVID-19 infections, there are some measures you can take from an administrative and engineering approach, to help prevent the virus from taking hold in your work environment. Following OSHA recommendations:
• Increase air ventilation throughout all areas of your building.
• Switch to remote daily communications, meetings, and customer services.
• Switch to high-efficiency filters in your HVAC system.
• Install physical barriers to manage rates of foot traffic flow, as needed.
• Discontinue business travel to places where COVID-19 infection rates are high or are rising.
• Launch an online forum for answering employees’ questions, if feasible.
• Put plastic sneeze guards over work tables and food service areas, if possible.
• Train workers on risks of COVID-19 and on how to protect themselves and others.
• Learn the OSHA guidelines that pertain to your specific business’s needs regarding COVID-19.
• Stay updated on COVID-19 through the CDC website: www.cdc.gov and the NIH Safety and Health site: www.cdc.gov/niosh.

Can COVID-19 Small Business Counseling Help?

Many types of businesses, including septic companies and portable restroom rental vendors, are likely to be struggling to overcome multiple serious operational challenges during the COVID-19 national emergency. Commerce has been disrupted, there are breaks in supply chains. absenteeism is likely to be unusually high, among other unexpected difficulties.
Because septic services and portable restroom rental services are likely to be recognized as essential services in most states, businesses in our industry are likely to be allowed to stay in operation. Keep in mind that resource centers for small business owners are receiving emergency federal funding for expanded services, including counseling services. For small business owners who want to take advantage of this resource, there are many potentially significant benefits of receiving objective qualified input on your strategies for operating throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
Contact the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), your local SCORE chapter, or the Women’s Business Center (WBC) in your area to arrange for counseling and a whole array of other important kinds of support for businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.

SOURCES:
https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf

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