5 Ways to Reduce COVID-19 Infection Rates in Your Workplace

February 21, 2019

5 ways to reduce COVID-19 infection rates in your workforce

Even prior to COVID-19 in 2020, companies historically struggled to contain the flu which killed on average 34,200 people a year and infecting 35.5 million in the USA. In a study released by the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI), researchers found that due to lost time from work caused by COVID-19, employee benefits for absent workers could cost employers more than $23 billion in total. And up to 5.6 million employees could be impacted if companies failed to implement proper safety protocols as outlined by the CDC.

Here's Why So Many People Come to Work Sick | The Motley Fool

1. Wearing face masks

One of the easiest methods to reduce rate of transmission is enacting a policy where employees are required to wear a mask while at the workplace. According to the CDC, an investigation of a high-exposure event, in which 2 symptomatically ill hair stylists interacted for an average of 15 minutes with each of 139 clients during an 8-day period, found that none of the 67 clients who subsequently consented to an interview and testing developed infection. The stylists and all clients universally wore masks in the salon as required by local ordinance and company policy at the time. Make sure employees are trained on how to properly wearing a mask: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/proper-mask-wearing-coronavirus-prevention-infographic

2. Automated symptom screening

Majority of states as this point require companies to screen employees as they come into work and some require employers to document these screenings to report to the county health departments. While there will be asymptomatic carriers that can cause wide spread community infection, having a process to screen employees prior to them starting their shift will help ensure your company keeps a healthy workforce and prevent community spread. The official CDC list of symptoms are the following:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

However, some states and county require additional questions such as "have you been in contact with another person that has contracted COVID-19". Keeping a well documented system of screenings can be difficult especially when transferring information from paper to excel to email where information is likely to get lost or mistakenly recorded. By using a system like VIT's Symptom Screening, companies can automatically screen all their employees based on the guidelines of their state and CDC, document all recordings easily, and be immediately notified whenever a user fails a screening to prevent community spread potentially that can potentially result in shutting down a facility. By having a system in place, companies can reduce risk of transmission by up to 79%.

3. Contact Tracing

Your company should have a process to handle whenever an employee exhibits symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19. Whenever this happens your company needs a protocol for HR (or a third party) to call the employee and see who else they came in touch during their workday so those employees can be notified that they had COVID exposure. However, the process of calling employees, documenting notes, and touching base with other employees can be a time sink and eat up hours for HR. VIT's contact tracing solution can help consolidate all of your company's notes and automatically track which employees came in contact with who, at what time, what duration, and where in the workplace.

4. Disinfect Frequently Touched Surfaces

Locate surfaces in the workplace where employees commonly interact with. These can range from

  • tablets
  • self-checkouts
  • door handles
  • counters
  • machine handles

By creating a routine where managers or staff take turn disinfecting these surfaces will help improve the overall health of the building. Alternatively, if your company doesn't have the manpower internally for routine cleaning consider talking to your local cleaning agencies for help.

5. Social Distancing

Social distance markers and posters are a good way to spread awareness at your facility to visually mark ways to socially distance 6 feet apartment. Think about if you have any place in your facility that will cause congestion such as check in and checkout points, food lines, etc. If you do, a good practice is the mark the floor where lines can be created to show what 6 feet apart to avoid a close cluster of employees. In addition to ensuring your workspaces can be operated in a social distance manner, think about how your cafeteria or break rooms are structured and if they allow for employees to sit and eat 6 feet apart. Sometime this is not possible with small break rooms in which having a flexible break schedule during shifts will help stagger the flow of employees coming from and into the break room(s).

Lastly, some states like California and New York have passed laws that state COVID in the workplace can be filed for workers compensation if they fit a certain criteria. Visit www.vitinitiative.com to learn more about how VIT can help your company's current safety protocols to book a demo.

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