Year : 2020 | Volume
: 7 | Issue : 4 | Page : 284--286
Ensuring safety of employees during COVID 19 pandemic in workplace settings
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava1, Prateek Saurabh Shrivastava2,
1 Member of the Medical Education Unit and Institute Research Council, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
MD, FAIMER, PGDHHM, DHRM, FCS, ACME. Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV) – Deemed to be University, Tiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District - 603108, Tamil Nadu
The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has influenced all the domains of human's life. Owing to the novel nature of the infection, with no potential drug or vaccine available till date for the management or prevention of the infection, it is extremely important to ensure that all the stakeholders work together. An extensive search of all materials related to the topic was carried out in the PubMed search engine and World Health Organization website and a total of 3 articles were selected based upon the suitability with the current review objectives. Keywords used in the search include COVID-19, and workplace. There is an immense need to implement appropriate strategies to prevent the spread of the infection both in the workplace and in the community. A series of measures such as early case detection, isolation of cases, contact tracing, and appropriate treatment has to be taken to ensure effective containment of the infection. To conclude, it is the need of the hour to improve the outbreak readiness and emergency response in workplace is an important component of the containment of the infection. However, this will essentially require support from all the stakeholders and the employers have to take the center stage..
|How to cite this article:|
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Ensuring safety of employees during COVID 19 pandemic in workplace settings.CHRISMED J Health Res 2020;7:284-286
|How to cite this URL:|
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Ensuring safety of employees during COVID 19 pandemic in workplace settings. CHRISMED J Health Res [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 May 8 ];7:284-286
Available from: https://www.cjhr.org/text.asp?2020/7/4/284/313174
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has influenced all the domains of human's life and has emerged as one of the global health concerns due to its novel nature, and the ability to spread internationally through travelers. In fact, the World Health Organization reported that as on August 23, 2020, a cumulative total of >23 million cases and 800000 deaths have been linked with the novel infection across the affected 216 nations and territories. Further, it is important to note that within a single week (August 17-“23, 2020), a total of 1.7 million new COVID-19 cases and 39000 new deaths were reported across the world.
At the same time, the Indian trends of the COVID-19 are also quite alarming, wherein 455258 cases have been reported in a single week, which takes the cumulative caseload in India to 3044940. This translates that India alone contributes to almost 86% of the cases in the South East Asian Region. From the mortality perspective, in India, a total of 56706 deaths have been reported, which is once again 84% of the overall reported deaths in the South East Asian Region. On the global front, the epidemiological distribution of the caseload suggests that the American region is the most affected. As these trends clearly suggest that the pandemic is far from over and the number of cases continues to rise in the different parts of the world, it justifies the need to improve our preparedness and strengthen the public health emergency response with the help of the support from all the sectors and stakeholders.
An extensive search of all materials related to the topic was carried out in the PubMed search engine and World Health Organization website. Relevant research articles focusing on COVID-19 and workplace published in the period April 2020 to July 2020 were included in the review. A total of 6 studies similar to current study objectives was identified initially, of which, 3 were excluded due to the unavailability of the complete version of the articles. Overall, 3 articles were selected based upon the suitability with the current review objectives and analyzed. Keywords used in the search include COVID-19 and workplace. The collected information is presented under the following sub-headings, namely COVID-19 in workplace, Strategies implemented for containment, Work from home, Establishing a healthy workplace, Averting transmission in work settings, Provision for health checkup for the people in quarantine, Implications for practice and Implications for research.
Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Workplace
Owing to the novel nature of the infection, with no potential drug or vaccine available till date for the management or prevention of the infection, it is extremely important to ensure that all the stakeholders, including the members of the community, take immediate steps for the prevention and restricting the onward transmission. Most of the affected nations decided to impose lockdown and motivated people to stay at home, but that took a toll on the financial growth of the nation as well as livelihood of people. However, as prolonged lockdown cannot be the solution to the pandemic, gradually the policymakers have decided to relax the restrictions, including at workplace. In view of the same, the responsibility on the employers and employees has increased to a great extent and it is expected that the workplace is adequately prepared to prevent the emergence of the outbreak in work settings.
Even if the outbreak emerges, there has to be adequate mechanism and protocol to prevent the spread of the infection both in the workplace and in the community. The results from an epidemiological observational study revealed that 10 cases which were observed in workplace in China, later on, got transmitted to another four families. This is just one of the incidences, and likewise, similar chains of transmission have been observed in other parts of the world. The need of the hour is to implement strategies for the effective containment of the infection and also establish a mechanism for the immediate isolation of a suspect case to minimize exposure to other employees.
Strategies Implemented for Containment
Work from home
Depending on the recommendations released from the Indian government health authorities, most of the industries were closed barring the essential services like health-care delivery. With regard to the commerce sector, the entire sector has been encouraged to advocate the practice of work from home, as this will reduce the probability of interpersonal contact and transmission between humans. Further, special awareness sessions in the form of webinars have been conducted to increase the knowledge of all the employees about the disease dynamics, epidemiology, clinical manifestations, and mode of prevention of the disease. In addition, special emphasis has been given toward increasing the awareness of employees about the rationale use of personal protective equipment and the need to practice behavioral modifications to interrupt the chain of transmission. In view of all these developments, it is the need of the hour that the concerned industries should formulate policies to ensure the safety of all the staff in the workplace.,
Establishing a healthy workplace
The presence of a healthy workplace environment is a must to interrupt the chain of transmission of the infection. This can be accomplished by establishing facilities (hand hygiene corner) to enable periodic handwashing without the need of waiting in long queue for their turn. However, mere handwashing will not serve the purpose, and it has to be accompanied by the arrangement of soap and alcohol-based hand rubs. Moreover, the water supply and sanitation facilities need to be improved in all regards to ensure that employees can practice the proposed public health recommendations.,
In addition, the employers should ensure that the workplace is being regularly disinfected and steps are taken to maintain good ventilation in the workplace., Moreover, the surveillance and reporting system in the workplace needs to be clearly defined and the location for quarantining the potential suspects should be also defined. Finally, the foundation for a healthy workplace will be laid down depending on the psychosocial support and the mental well-being of the employees.
Averting transmission in work settings
It is a well-documented finding that work from home is the standard option to reduce the risk of human-to-human transmission in the work settings. Nevertheless, in settings, where it becomes difficult to implement due to a variety of reasons, specific behavioral protocol should be laid down and the employees should be sensitized about the same. All these behavioral modifications can be defined based on the dynamics of the disease transmission and essentially include practicing physical distancing of at least 1 m, maintaining hand and cough hygiene, and keeping a check over the number of visitors permitted to come to the workplace.
Whenever possible, physical meetings with the staff should be discouraged, and if it becomes essential, it is the responsibility of the organizers to keep the duration of the meeting as less as possible and invite only those members whose presence in the meeting is indispensable. Moreover, for all such meetings, arrangement of the tissues and alcohol-based hand rubs should be done. It is extremely vital to ensure that all the suspects are to be referred to the designated health facilities and confirmed asymptomatic or mild/moderately symptomatic employees should follow the instructions of the health authority during their home isolation. The employees who have contacts with confirmed COVID-19 cases should be strictly instructed not to come for work till the period of quarantine is over as per the instruction of a treating physician.,
Provision for health checkup for the people in quarantine
The people placed in home quarantine or isolation should be subjected to periodic health monitoring either via phone or through the personal visits by the health-care personnel. It is usually done by the grass-root level health workers like accredited social health activists in rural India and community health workers in urban areas and may be supplemented by the factory health facility, if present. This is an important component of the prevention and control of the disease, as early detection of the same will enable their prompt isolation and provision of appropriate treatment. This will definitely interrupt the chain of transmission and prevent the onward transmission of the infection and also aid in returning of the employee back to work.
Implications for practice
Owing to the gradual relaxation of lockdown which was imposed as an initial measure, it becomes extremely crucial to strengthen the infection prevention control measures in workplace settings. As there will be a group of employees who will be working together, it is must to establish standard protocol for the effective containment of the infection and a plan which needs to be activated once a suspected case is detected in the workplace. The administrators and employers should implement basic strategies like temperature monitoring, self-declaration of symptoms by employees, periodic disinfection of the commonly used places and surfaces, measures for physical distancing, facilities for handwashing, segregation of employees timing for working as well as eating, measures to improve ventilation, reduction in the number of physical meetings, etc. All the planned guidelines should be done in accordance with the national recommendations with an ultimate aim to prevent the emergence of the outbreak in the workplace.
Implications for research
The novel nature of the viral infection makes it mandatory for the government and policy makers to invest and intensify research and development activities. The researchers should look for identification of various approaches and strategies which can promote physical distancing in the workplace without compromising the outcome in the industry. In addition, there is an extensive scope to identify cost-effective strategies which can ensure safety of both employers and employees in the workplace settings.
Amid the recent development and the way the disease caseload continues to rise, improving the outbreak readiness and emergency response in workplace is an important component of the containment of the infection. However, this will essentially require support from all the stakeholders and the employers have to take the center stage.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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