As concerns over COVID-19 continue to grow throughout the United States (and the entire world), many U.S. workers might be feeling lost right now when it comes to how they can protect themselves from the virus while working in a crowded workplace.
While many companies are encouraging their employees to work remotely– some are even providing paid sick leave for workers who fall ill and need to be quarantined — other employees are still expected to be physically present for their regular shifts.
Working environments such as crowded retail stores, restaurants, and office spaces seem to be what people are concerned about the most. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by Bospar, over 52% of Americans think open offices are bound to lead to an increase in novel coronavirus infections.
There are a myriad of myths currently being propagated about how you can prevent catching COVID-19 at work. Unfortunately, without the proper guidance you can be putting yourself at risk.
In this article, we will share a few tips, based on guidelines from the CDC and other health experts, to keep employees safe from COVID-19 while in a work-environment.
The Best Ways to Prevent COVID-19 at Work
1. Wash Your Hands Frequently
According to the CDC, frequent hand washing is one of the best defenses against COVID-19. This is especially pertinent for workers.
Whether you work in a crowded grocery store with hundreds of strangers or a cramped office with a few coworkers, washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water should be a regular part of your daily routine — especially after touching surfaces and objects such as coffee mugs, keyboards, counters, registers, money, etc. This is one of the many ways to prevent COVID-19 at work.
2. Use Hand Sanitizer When Hand Washing is Difficult/Impossible
For workplaces without easy access to soap and water, hand-sanitizer stations should be set up and used often by workers. The sanitizer you use should contain at least 60% alcohol for optimal results.
If you work on a computer all day, it might be more convenient to keep a bottle of hand sanitizer on your desk; this way you don’t need to get up and wash your hands everytime you touch something that could be contaminated.
It’s important to note that washing your hands with soap in water is more effective at killing germs than hand sanitizer alone. With this in mind, you should still wash your hands as often as you can.
3. Avoid Touching Your Face
As humans, we touch our faces a lot throughout the day. In fact, according to Healthline, the average person touches their face an average of 16 times per hour.
Unfortunately, touching our faces with dirty hands is one of the primary ways germs and viruses (including COVID-19) enter our body — through our nose, mouth, and even our eyes. With this in mind, workers should constantly be mindful of this habit to avoid it.
Employers are encouraged to remind their staff members to wash their hands frequently and avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth throughout their work day. You can even go as far as to put up posters in the employee break room.
4. Promote Physical Distancing (When Possible)
Physical distancing — of at least 6 feet — is recommended by the CDC to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Sadly, this can be difficult while at work. For example: if you work in a crowded warehouse or packaging facility, then staying 6 feet apart from coworkers can be next to impossible.
However, in certain work environments, such as retail stores and office spaces, employees can keep their distance while still doing their jobs. For offices, employers can rearrange the space; ensuring desks are at least 6 feet a part. For retail stores, placing markers on the ground — for both employees and visitors — is ideal to ensure everyone keeps the proper distance.
5. Wear Facial Coverage at All Times
Most states — such as New York, California, Illinois, etc. — have mandated the use of facial coverage when individuals are in public spaces. According to health experts, like the CDC, masks may help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as the main way the virus is transmitted is through respiratory droplets.
This is why facial coverage should be worn at all times by employees whenever they are at work. For workplaces — like restaurants, retail/grocery stores, banks, salons etc. — that are frequently visited by the general public, there should be mask-wearing policies in place to ensure each patron wears facial coverage while on the premises.
6. Stay Home From Work if You’re Sick
It should be a no brainer, but if you’re feeling ill, then you should ask for a sick day and stay home. This should be followed no matter if you’re feeling symptoms that could be related to COVID-19 or not.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, most companies are offering paid sick leave for workers who fall ill and enter quarantine. Depending on your company’s policy, this may cover up to two weeks of sick leave.
As a reminder, the symptoms for COVID-19 can include:
- Persistent cough
- Difficulty breathing
However, you may also experience additional symptoms such as chills, body aches, fatigue, loss of taste/smell, runny nose, and more. If you suspect you have COVID-19, it’s recommended that you don’t visit a healthcare facility right away to avoid spreading the virus to others.
Instead, you can schedule a telehealth visit with an online doctor — like the board-certified online doctors in NYC from Statcare — who can assess your symptoms and your medical history to determine the best course of care.
7. Inquire About Work-From-Home Opportunities
While you can certainly take precautions to decrease your chances of catching COVID-19 at work, the only way to truly avoid the virus altogether is to stay home. If you’re not comfortable going to work while the virus is still spreading, you should make this known to your employer.
Start by inquiring about possible work-from-home opportunities. It’s important to remember, however, that not every job can be done remotely (i.e. cashiers, package handlers, construction workers, etc.).
With that being said, if you work in an office, it’s likely you can still do your job effectively no matter where you are.
Ensure Your Employees Are Tested for COVID-19 Regularly
If you’re an employer in NYC who wants to ensure your business can reopen and stay open safely, following the tips listed above is imperative. With that being said, you should also ensure your staff is tested for COVID-19 on a regular basis.
By partnering with Statcare Urgent & Medical Walk-In — a renowned urgent care clinic in NYC — you’ll be able to get mass testing for your entire staff. COVID-19 testing for businesses in NYC can take place either on-site or at one of Statcare’s 8 urgent care locations throughout NYC.
Learn more by visiting Statcare’s website or give them a call at (917) 525-4512!