Employer Resources & Tips to fight COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is at the top of everyone’s mind right now, but for EHS professionals nationwide this pandemic is especially challenging. Health and Safety professionals are at the front lines of prevention for their organizations, and employers must recognize their responsibility in halting the spread of the virus. As of this writing (8:30 am on April 8, 2020), Johns Hopkins University & Medicine’s Coronavirus Resource Center is reporting 400,000+ confirmed cases with thousands of deaths within the U.S. alone; more than 1.4 million total cases have been confirmed worldwide at this time.

Useful Prevention Measures

COVID-19 response guidelines are readily available for organizations and individuals from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Visit the CDC’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) resource page and review OSHA’s standard and directives in addition to its Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 for specific details and the latest updates. With that in mind, there are some general best practices all companies and individuals should follow.

To prevent a COVID-19 infection:

  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

NOTE: You can access a list of effective cleaners/disinfectants to help limit the spread of the virus along with the Safety Data Sheet for each product on KHA’s COVID-19 Resources page.

If employees become sick or think they are sick, advise them to:

  • Stay home, except to get medical care, and call ahead to inform the caregiver about a possible COVID-19 infection. Sick employees should not come to work; go to school or public areas; or take taxis, public transportation, or rideshare services.
  • Cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing; if no tissue is available, cough or sneeze into a sleeve.
  • Separate themselves from family members and others at home.
  • Avoid sharing household items such as cups, dishes, drinking glasses, utensils, towels, bedding, or other items with other people in the home; wash items thoroughly with soap and water. 
  • Wear a face mask when other people are in the same room and when visiting a healthcare provider.

An Enormous Responsibility

Employers have the responsibility to do all they can to halt the spread of COVID-19. Here is a list of immediate actions that your company can take (if it hasn’t already):

  • Most importantly, follow all related directives and guidance issued at the state and federal levels, and take all precautions outlined by experts from agencies such as OSHA, the EPA, and the CDC.
  • Restrict employee travel.
  • Where possible, require workers to perform their duties remotely.
  • Make special consideration for employees in high-risk groups, including older workers and those with asthma, diabetes, or other preexisting conditions.
  • Keep employees informed and updated on how your organization is taking precautions against COVID-19 infection.

The costs of an outbreak among your workforce are numerous. Lost productivity and damage to your reputation could be very steep – both externally and internally. Employees notice when their employer takes a genuine interest in their well-being and when it doesn’t. Click here for 10 actions you can use right now to mitigate the disruption to your business.