Here is an update on our recent blog about the spread of Covid-19.
Creating and maintaining a health and safety culture is hard work, especially in organisations with large numbers of lone workers. In the face of a public health alert, such as the current concern over the Covid-19 coronavirus infection, this becomes even more vital.
A focus on the Coronavirus public health alert
Many organisations are concerned about how best to protect their workers in the face of the Covid-19 public health alert. As of 26 February 2020, there have been around 80,000 confirmed cases of the disease, across 50 countries. This has sadly caused just over 2,700 deaths, although these have been almost exclusively in China. Rolling updates on the spread of Covid-19 can be found on the World Health Organisation (WHO) website.
The latest evidence is that the virus is spread by close contact, but that it also lingers on surfaces. So, it’s shining a spotlight on employers’ approaches to cleaning and infection control. Sometimes, it’s best to take practical measures to address health issues. Latest UK government advice focuses on such issues as hand hygiene, cough and sneeze etiquette, and self-care. Advice is in place for what to do if someone has returned in the last 14 days from specified countries or areas. This includes self-isolating even if they have no symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath and fever. This advice is being updated on an ongoing basis. The advice is also clear that face masks for the general public are not recommended. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-covid-19
Additionally, general health and safety advice about cleaning is available on the UK’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE) website. There are some clear steps that can limit the risks associated with the spread of infections such as coronavirus. These include performing routine workplace housekeeping and guaranteeing the availability of washrooms and handwashing supplies.
It’s vital to communicate the need to take care when touching surfaces where viruses and other pathogens may linger. Employers can encourage workers to practise good hand hygiene, by washing with hot water and soap (as many viruses and bacteria are resistant to alcohol). Promoting a general culture of safety, including not reporting to work if sick, demonstrates that employers care about worker health and safety protections in the workplace. Self-care is important too, including taking up vaccinations if offered and not reporting to work if sick. All these measures are especially important for people who are in public-facing roles.
Use Group Alert to help protect lone workers
But many of these steps are focused on making a workplace safer. For those workers not based onsite, how can employers still protect them? Getting across messages around a general culture of safety is a great start, and Safe Hub's Group Alert feature can help. Group Alert is a way to communicate with groups of lone workers about hazards they might face – and how to avoid them. With Group Alert, managers can send critical alerts to workers in the event of an emergency, or communicate proactive health messages.
Group Alert provides tailored messages, so line managers can take into account where their lone workers are or might be going. They can target messages to specific individuals, pre-defined groups, or specific geographic areas, such as those workers within 10km of a particular hazard. And in the case of Covid-19, employers can use Group Alert as a reminder to follow best practice around hand hygiene and self-care.
Creating health and safety needs to be a balancing act between sound policies and everyday practical action. As we face an international health alert with Covid-19, it’s practical actions that will take priority. Everyone needs to be thinking about frequent hand washing. But with Lone Worker Solutions and Safe Hub on your side, we’ll make sure that nobody washes their hands of responsibility for lone worker safety.
To find about more about fitting in lone worker protection with a health and safety culture, contact Lone Worker Solutions and the Safe Hub team today
Updated post by George Stavrinidis
George is Chief Executive Officer of Lone Worker Solutions (LWS). He believes passionately that everyone should be protected and supported at work. George supports LWS clients to make sure they enjoy the most effective relationship with the team and maximise the effectiveness of their deployment of Safe Hub.