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Coronavirus: What Employers Need to Know


In this prevailing critical condition there are only few words which we are hearing almost every day

#lockdown, #workfromhome #workremotely, #cleanliness, #stayathome etc.

The case of coronavirus  has been very intense and the complexity of it is being increasing day after day. Several precautionary steps are being planned and executed by the health care and other official departments.

Coronavirus and Employers

This practice has also been taken by the employers with in the organization. Most of the offices in many countries have given their employees work from home option so that their current work does not get hindered in any way. It is the employers responsibility to provide their employees a clean and healthy environment at workplace and most of the organization do it well.

But as the current coronavirus spread has become so fierce and acute that best possible solutions had to be offered to the employees by their employers to keep them safe and secure. Here the employer should also think about their loss which they have to cover up.

Moreover apart from offering remote work to employees it is also important to provide them with few essential things required for the work along with regular guiding and monitoring of their work performance.

If the scare of coronavirus continues in the same way then there are many other things that employers need to be aware of.

What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus or COVID-19 is a deadly virus which has become a biggest threat to humans these days. This is the first time such a virus has been identified and the medicine for it is still being researched by scientists and doctors.

The first case of coronavirus was reported in WUHAN city of CHINA on December 31st, 2019. As per a study , it was revealed that this virus was spread from animals (snake and bats) to human beings and the core cause of how it happened is still unknown.

Coronavirus is definitely contagious and the only way to prevent it is to isolate the virus affected patient and report it to the medical team immediately. Moreover taking precautionary measures by staying at home and maintaining cleanliness are few things that can help prevent this harmful virus.

As per World Health Organization (WHO), a report was revealed on March 16th. It stated that around 175000 confirmed cases have been reported and the death toll has been more than 7000 globally.

Many countries like the UK, US etc are requesting the public to stay at home and are closing all the companies, educational institutions, malls etc. Moreover there are several countries who have instructed all the IT organizations to allow their employee work from home option and made a complete lock down situation to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The public health department has also informed people to stay at home and also get in contact with medical teams even if having any kind of smaller health issues which are enlisted below. Some of the symptoms of people affected with coronavirus are

  • Cough
  • Flu or Cold
  • Diarrhea
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • High temperature
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Fatigue

What Duties Do Employers Have To Protect Employees From The Coronavirus:

The coronavirus scare is being escalated with great pace day after day and conditions is turning scary. It cannot be denied that we have reached in a helpless situation even in this technological modern era.

As facing the impact of coronavirus is not possible, defending it by taking precautionary steps is the only solution left to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. There are many official sources which are providing metrics as per their research and the numbers are changing every day.

Several government officials, scientists and doctors are trying hard to bring in awareness to people on how to cut down this coronavirus spread and ways on how they can be safe. Moerover in such critical conditions there are many myths, rumours going around regarding this virus. So it is the responsibility of people to trust only official instructions and do not get looped in false news.

Businesses are the one sector which has been hit the worst. And the only way to keep their services going on is by providing employees work from home options. But as a employer their work doesn’t end there. In the initial stages, employees were facing tough situations like not having essential safety measures at workplace.

Though this work from home or working remotely is a perk for employees but from the employers point of view they need to make sure that their employees should work effectively and provide better results.

The safety and security of employees is the responsibility of the employer and they need to make everything possible to make the workplace a better place to work. Be it during such critical coronavirus scare or in general employees health and  safety should be the major concern for all employers.

Now as the spread of coronavirus or COVID-19 is increasing, as employer one needs to take extreme steps to save their employees and to cut down the spread of it.

Federal Law Requirements:

As per Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), the most important provisions is Section 5(a)(1), also known as the “General Duties Clause.” It requires that employers:

Shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees…

The law above mentioned deals with work place safety of employees but sadly no such terms have been defined to fight this deadly virus i.e COVID-19 or SARS-CoV2 .

Now that the situations are turning hectic and complex, new rules have been introduced by OSHA. They are mainly the rules and tips on what employers need to do to safeguard their employees at workplace.

OSHA Guidelines Related to Coronavirus:

The guidelines which has been released by OSHA help the employees to understand well on what al they can expect form the employers side as safety measure. Though most of the organizations follow good safety measures but these guidelines are mainly to safeguard their employees from this corona virus attack.

Now on a general note, every one need to maintain few cleanliness tips such as while coughing use a handkerchief or tissue, washing hands with water and soap regularly, etc. All this basic tips can also help you prevent the corona virus attack.

The guidelines have been subjected in to 2 sections. Let us begin with first one

  1. In the first section 4 types of workplace implementations are been discussed, they are
  • Engineering control
  • Administrative control
  • Safe Work practices
  • Personal protective equipment

Engineering controls mainly deals with practical ways to keep away the employee from workplace danger. An example for it would be, use better air filtration or using separate office space or cubicles.

Administrative controls deals with changing the behavior of employee to reduce the risk. An example for it would be, staying away from work, isolate themselves at home, maintaining distance between effected employees or avoiding long distance traveling.

Safe work practices is also a administrative control measure which deals with employee policies and procedures . An example of it is providing hand sanitizer and other products clean up their respective work spaces.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) deals with providing an extra care to safeguard their employees. An example of it is issuing face masks, gloves, respirators etc.

Now the equipment provided under PPE depends upon the complexity of the situation faced by the employees at workplace. It is just a extra measure to keep them safe from any kind of health hazard.

2. The second section discussed in the newly published OSHA guidelines is the differentiation of employee risk when exposed to coronavirus.

Here 4 levels have been classified and they are as follows

  • Very high
  • High
  • Medium
  • Low risk

Very high risk is the case when the employee comes in close contact with the sources that can affect you with coronavirus. The risk level is very high in this case. An example in this case is a doctor who not only have to treat the employee but also has to be close to him very frequently.

High risk is the case where an employee would be coming in contact with a corona affected person or person carrying the coronavirus. The chances of spread of virus from that person is likely less than the first category.

Medium is the risk level where an employee comes in contact with someone affected with coronavirus. Here the spread of the virus is very less when compared to its earlier levels.

Low exposure of risk is where employees getting in contact with general public.

Generally most of the employees come under low and medium risk level, so from the employer side nothing extra need to be done. The employers just need to educate them to maintain the regular cleanliness habits that can prevent them from any kind of virus attack.

When high risk level employee are present at work then they need to be provided with PPE equipment’s so that the spread of virus can be cut done. Also they need to be send home or report to the medical care team.

As mentioned earlier not most organization have to impose the rules as a majority of organizations shut down their workplace and have given work from home option to their employees. This is the best way to overcome this health hazard, as with this step they not only protect their employees but also make sure that their business is working well with out any hindrances.

Tips to Protect your Employees:

As an employer it is your primary duty to safeguard your employees health at workplace and also prevent the coronavirus spread at work.

Some of the things that employers need to follow:

  1. Create a new workplace health policy (defined specially for COVID-19)
  2. Educate employee about the symptoms of coronavirus
  3. List out a emergency contact numbers
  4. Update on all the precautionary steps planned to prevent COVID-19 spread at work

Few vital and necessary steps:

  1. Help your employees act smartly and practically
  2. Make sure that your employee wash their hands with hot water and soap regularly at work
  3. Provide enough hand sanitizers at workplace
  4. Taking care of elderly or people already having health issues
  5. Provide work from home options
  6. Maintain cleanliness at workplace
  7. Offering all the necessary requirement for employees who work remotely
  8. Educate employees on what to do if noticed any symptoms
  9. Cancelling all business meetings or interviews that requires traveling

What to do if an Employee is Diagnosed with COVID-19?

The first thing when you find a employee with symptoms of illness is to inform the medical team.

  • Help him avail the necessary medical aid
  • Allow them the sick leave slot under the company health policy
  • Employees need to be given SSA statutory sick pay
  • Make arrangements to let him go home

These are the immediate steps that an employer needs to follow in case the employees is diagnosed with coronavirus or COVID-19.

Nowadays as the coronavirus spread is high and chronic, extreme steps need to be taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus or COVID-19 at workplace.

Steps Employers Should Follow:

If you find that the employee is diagnosed with illness at work as employers these things needs to be done.

  1. Initially make sure that he leaves the work space ASAP
  2. Provide him essential medical aid
  3. Make sure to clean his work place and cubicle
  4. Do not allow them to mingle with other employees
  5. Isolate them completely
  6. Advice them not to touch anything
  7. A seperate workstation need to be provided for them
  8. Allow other employees hand sanitizers and tissue papers
  9. The ill person should also be provided separate sanitizers and tissues
  10. If the person has been ill for continuous days then official medical team should be informed
  11. Steps need to be taken for diagnosing the employees immediately
  12. Ensure that their office health insurance covers all the expenses.

Impacts of Coronavirus on Employers:

It is a well known fact that coronavirus or COVID-19 has impacted all the businesses on a global level. The coronavirus scare has impacted the employers in such a way that they had to impose few precautionary steps to protect their business as well as employees.

Though the government has imposed a lockdown system, that doesn’t mean that they should close their business completely.

By providing  work from home options to employees and by taking few precautionary steps they can survive this coronavirus scare effectively. If a business in such a critical condition is running successfully then the credit goes not only to the employees but also their efficient employers who are able to manage everything well.