Practice these doctor-recommended COVID-19 precautions when you get back to work

A doctor recommends precautions to keep yourself safe from coronavirus once you start going to the office again.
coronavirus precautions at workplace
Ready to get back to the office? Keep these precautions in mind to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr MS Kanwar Published: 23 Feb 2021, 12:55 pm IST
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As the government begins the vaccination drive and relaxes restrictions on movement, there remains a sense of fear and anxiety amongst office goers, especially the ones who have to commute using public transportation.

The fear is definitely not unfounded. Hence, a few precautionary steps need to be followed and maintained on a daily basis so that we can minimise our risk of infection and avoid causing another wave. We need to get used to the ‘new normal’, practising behavioural change in terms of maintaining hygiene and social distancing.

Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19

When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales, they release droplets of infected fluid. Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects. In the case of office spaces, these surfaces could include desks, tables or telephones. People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects, and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. If they are standing within 1 meter of a person with COVID-19, they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them. In other words, COVID-19 spreads in a similar way to the flu.

Most persons infected with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and eventually recover from it. However, some experience more serious symptoms and may require hospital care. The risk of serious illness rises with age. People over 40 seem to be more vulnerable than those under 40. People with weakened immune systems and people with conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung disease are also more vulnerable to serious illness.

Simple ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at your workplace

The low-cost measures below will help prevent the spread of infections at your workplace. Employers should start doing these things now, even if COVID-19 has not arrived in the communities where they operate. These measures can reduce working days lost due to illness and stop or slow the spread of COVID-19 at your place of work:

  • Make sure your workplaces are clean and hygienic. Surfaces (e.g. desks, tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly.
  • Promote regular and thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors, and customers. Put sanitizing hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace.
  • Promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace. You can do this by displaying posters promoting respiratory hygiene. Ensure that face masks or paper tissues are available at your workplace for those who develop a runny nose or cough at work, along with closed bins for hygienically disposing of them. Good respiratory hygiene prevents the spread of COVID-19.
coronavirus precautions at workplace
The battle against covid-19 is still on. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
How to manage COVID-19 risk when organizing meetings and events

There is a risk that people attending your meeting or event might unwittingly bring the COVID-19 virus to the meeting. Others might be unknowingly exposed to COVID-19. Although COVID-19 is a mild disease for most people, it can make some very ill. Around 1 in every 5 people who catch COVID-19 needs hospital treatment. Hence, prevention is key to combating this illness.

Key considerations to prevent or reduce COVID-19 risks BEFORE the meeting or event:

  • Check the advice from the authorities in the community where you plan to hold the meeting or event. Follow their advice.
  • Develop and agree a preparedness plan to prevent infection at your meeting or event. – Consider whether a face-to-face meeting or event is needed. Could it be replaced by a teleconference or online event? Could the meeting or event be scaled down so that fewer people attend?
  • Verify information and communication channels in advance with key partners such as public health and health care authorities.
  • Pre-order sufficient supplies and materials, including tissues and hand sanitiser for all the participants.

We have to accept that the ‘new normal’ is here to stay and act accordingly to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

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About the Author

Dr MS Kanwar is a Sr. Consultant Respiratory Medicine, Critical Care & Sleep Disorders, Apollo Hospital, New Delhi. With an experience of over 45 years, Dr Kanwar is a pioneer for setting up Asia’s best sleep laboratory in Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals Delhi and later the department of Sleep Medicine, the only one of its kind in India. His major fields of expertise are Asthma, Sepsis and Infection in the ICU, and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA), Tuberculosis and Bronchoscopy.

Qualifications: MBBS, MD, MAMS (Respiratory Medicine)

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