4 Steps Businesses Can Take To Combat COVID-19
Learn to top actions your business can take to combat the spread of COVID-19 and infectious diseases in the workplace.
Businesses have had the challenge of implementing preventive measures to reduce COVID spread in the workplace. As a business, you may wonder what a proper mitigation strategy looks like for you? This article will walk you through how SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted, and mitigation strategies businesses can take to combat COVID-19 in the workplace.
Understanding How SARS-CoV-2 Is Transmitted
The SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID 19, is transmitted through aerosol droplets. People release these aerosol droplets during exhalation (e.g., quiet breathing, speaking, singing, exercise, coughing, sneezing), and these droplets carry the virus and transmit infection.
Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 occur in three principal ways though not mutually exclusive:
- Inhalation of fine droplets and aerosol particles that contain infectious virus, the risk of transmission is most significant within three to six feet of a contagious source where the concentration of these droplets and particles is greatest.
- Deposition of virus carried in exhaled droplets and particles onto exposed mucous membranes (i.e., "splashes and sprays," such as being coughed on). The risk of transmission is likewise most significant close to an infectious source where the concentration of these exhaled droplets and particles is greatest.
- Touching mucous membranes with hands soiled by exhaled respiratory fluids containing a virus or touching inanimate surfaces contaminated with the virus. (Source: CDC)
4 Steps Your Business Can Take To Combat Coronavirus Transmission
Regardless of the size of your business, small changes can have a significant impact on your COVID-19 mitigation strategy. Here are nine things your business can do to prevent a COVID outbreak at your workplace.
Step 1: Follow Government Updates
Federal, regional, and local governments continually monitor and reassess the things their constituents need to do to combat COVID-19. While these changes may seem endless, the recommendations come from leading public health officials and directly respond to current transmission rates, hospital surges, and COVID-19 variants.
By monitoring updates from your government officials, businesses will be better equipped to manage the virus in their workplace. To stay up to date on the recent federal and local government COVID-19 updates, visit:
- CDC Center For Disease Control
- OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration
- EPA Environmental Protection Agency
- Master list of all Local State Health Departments
Step 2: Improve Air Quality With Air Purification
With COVID-19 cases resurging, businesses are bracing for a higher than average number of sick leave employees. To mitigate this increase in sick days, companies are looking for ways to sustain the health and wellbeing of their employees. There is no better solution for a workplace than improving indoor air quality.
In a study by McKinsey, employees were surveyed on workplace policies that would alleviate their stress; their top choices were related to safety. Including improved air filtration. Employers can potentially alleviate anxiety and stress by implementing high-impact solutions their employees seek.
In addition to COVID-19 mitigation, poor air quality can result in decreased productivity, increased sick days, and the overall health of your employees. Prioritizing finding solutions to improve your air quality will not only improve employee wellbeing, but the right solution can help you mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Below are some strategies you can implement to help improve your building indoor air quality:
- Conduct indoor air quality testing.
- Make sure ventilation systems are working correctly.
- Have ventilation systems regularly serviced and change filters regularly.
- Add Portable HEPA Air Purification Systems throughout the office and in high traffic areas.
- Implement HVAC Air Scrubber, UVGI, or ActivePure® HVAC Induct Purification to your current HVAC system.
- Upgrading HVAC Air Filters to MERV 13.
- Increase the proportion of outside air.
Step 3: Create an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan
If one does not exist, developing an infectious disease preparedness and a response plan can help you protect your employees against COVID-19. As stated previously, stay abreast of guidance from federal, state, local, tribal, and/or territorial health agencies, and consider how to incorporate those recommendations and resources into your workplace-specific plans.
Your plans should consider and address the level(s) of risk associated with various worksites and job tasks workers perform at those sites.
Plans should also consider and address the other steps that employers can take to reduce the risk of worker exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in their workplace.
Having a plan in place will assure safe and healthful working conditions for your employees and help mitigate transmission of COVID-19 in your workplace, and prepare you to respond to an outbreak if there is one. If you need help getting started on a response plan, read OSHA guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19.
Step 4: Provide COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Testing
First and foremost, create a response plan for employees who report or demonstrate symptoms at work. Have recently been at work and tested positive or have been in contact with confirmed COVID-19 case, or have not recently been at work but have tested positive or have been in contact with a confirmed case.
Outside of a full vaccination mandate, consistent testing of employees is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of exposure and transmission of COVID-19. Don't wait until COVID-19 impacts your business. Routine testing keeps your employees safe while protecting you from a potential COVID-19 Shutdown. The fastest way to determine if an employee is infected with the SARS-CoV-2 is with an onsite routine rapid COVID-19 antigen test.
For more information on SARS-CoV-2 testing in non-healthcare workplaces and testing recommendations for vaccinated and unvaccinated workers, visit the CDC's guide on "Interim Guidance for SARS-CoV-2 Testing in Non-Healthcare Workplaces."
Designing A Healthier Workplace
Many corporate leaders have adapted resilient mindsets in a post-pandemic world as their organizations have had to endure rapidly changing operational models. Whether you are still in the planning phase or reevaluating your return-to-work or onsite plans, mitigating COVID-19 or any infectious disease prevention requires a multi-layered approach.
Taking the necessary steps to set a new standard of employee health and safety with help keep your employees safe and be a source of competitive advantage for your organization. Rethink your organizational infectious disease prevention strategy and focus on finding technologies and protocols to complement existing protocols to protect the health of your employees.