As an increasing number of Coronavirus cases are confirmed across the United States, many of our clients and partnering businesses are asking what actions they need to take immediately and what will be necessary if the epidemic becomes more severe. To keep employees, their families, Broussard and surrounding communities safe, and to mitigate against business disruption, employers must prepare—rather than panic. Even if Coronavirus is successfully controlled, it’s crucial for businesses to have a plan in place in case of any future pandemic.
How Can Businesses in Broussard Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus?
Even if your business does not operate in the vicinity of any reported cases, there are steps that employers can take immediately.
- Maintain Standards of Cleanliness
Regularly clean all office surfaces and objects. Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer (If stores are sold out, you are only 1 Google search away from making your own), tissues and disposable wipes. Educate employees, especially about official recommendations for hand hygiene. (However, you should be doing all of this even when there isn’t an epidemic!)
- Send Sick Employees Home
If an employee shows signs of fever or respiratory illness, encourage them to stay home and not come to work until all symptoms have been absent for at least 24 hours. If symptoms arise while an employee is at work, try to ensure they are separated from their co-workers.
Your leave policies should be consistent with public health guidance and, if possible, should be updated to be non-punitive, so as not to incentivize coming to work while sick. This should also be true for any agencies who provide your business with temporary staff.
- Encourage Social Distancing
As the virus appears to spread primarily through proximity to infected persons, it is good practice to avoid unnecessary closeness in workplace. If it possible for employees to sit further apart or even to work from home, this should be encouraged, especially for particularly vulnerable people: those who are elderly, pregnant or immunocompromised or live with those who are.
To enable this, reduce unnecessary meetings/large gatherings and ensure all employees (in industries where this is possible) are equipped with software allowing them to ‘tele-commute’.
- Track Recent and Future Travel
If an employee has recently returned from a region with high risk of Coronavirus (currently China, South Korea, Iran and Italy), consider allowing them to work from home till 14 days have passed since their return. Keep track of all international travel by employees, in case of further outbreaks elsewhere. When planning business travel, check the CDC’s latest travel advice.
- Keep Employees Informed
During epidemics, rumors can spread fast and employers should provide employees with accurate information to avoid false panics. Ensure that you are able to communicate with all employees directly, to immediately inform them of any important updates.
- Create/Update a Pandemic Preparedness Plan
In the event of the Coronavirus outbreak become more severe, or in case of any future pandemic, businesses should prepare plans establishing possible action that can be taken to ensure employee safety while reducing business disruption.