Command centers, PSAP and healthcare industries are particularly vulnerable
Each flu season, we share tips with our customers on how to keep their workstations clean. Shared workspaces—common in settings like control and command centers, dispatch and healthcare—are especially vulnerable; with frequent shift changes, operators are likely to be occupying the same workstations as their colleagues. While Coronavirus and the flu—both making headlines as the number of cases rise—are not the same virus, the preventive measures are largely the same.
How Coronavirus and Respiratory Illnesses Spread
While experts are quickly learning more about Coronavirus, there is no vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that, like the flu, Coronavirus is most commonly transmitted by air, via sneezing and coughing. It can also be passed through human contact, e.g., shaking hands and then touching your eyes, ears, nose or mouth.
According to OSHA, “most American workers are not at significant risk of infection” at this time; however, the number of confirmed cases is increasing daily, so it’s time for operators, employees and managers to take preventative measures.
Affected individuals thus far are reporting fever, mild to severe respiratory symptoms, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. One in 10 patients show none of these symptoms but present with flu-like symptoms but with diarrhea and nausea.
If you’re in a high-risk industry like healthcare, PSAP or transportation, Coronavirus is particularly contagious. While it’s primarily sweeping through hospitals in Wuhan, China (as of this writing, over 40% of patients reportedly caught the virus in a hospital, including 17 patients and 40 healthcare workers), U.S. healthcare providers are on heightened alert.
Managers urge employees to stay home if they exhibit symptoms when they are sick. Work-from-home is not typically an option in settings like healthcare, public safety, and command and control. Still, OSHA states, “Employers also may start to consider certain policy changes... like work from home.” And the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is urging agency managers to enter telework agreements with as many eligible employees as possible.
Top 10 ways to prevent the spread of Coronavirus at work
Well-meaning co-workers can unwittingly spread germs when they cough, sneeze or talk and by touching objects and surfaces in the workplace. So how can you keep your workplace from turning into a petri dish for viruses? With no current vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection, the CDC recommends taking measures that help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses in general.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Wash your hands with soap and hot water for 20 seconds or more, especially after and before eating, and after going to the bathroom.
- Clean and disinfect common areas and frequently touched objects and surfaces. Disinfect meeting rooms, receptions and lobbies with commercial-grade disinfectant to eliminate bacteria. It’s especially important to clean any crevices on worksurfaces where germs live. Pay particular attention to:
- Light switches and doors
- keyboards and mice
- writing utenils
- chairs and office furniture
- break rooms
- Place tissues all around the office, along with a small wastebasket where they can immediately dispose of tissues and hand wipes.
- Use hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes with at least 60% alcohol in high-traffic areas like entrances, break rooms, toilets and lobbies.
- Use basic manners. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Declutter, as it is harder to keep all these surfaces clean.
- Clean up after yourself. Immediately dispose of cold coffee, leftover lunch and unfinished snacks to avoid contamination. Wipe down your shared workstation, keyboard and mouse before/after each shift.
- Don’t share: This includes snacks, drinks, phones and pens.
- Deep clean your office space to reset your office to a clean hygienic state.
Get a jump on next year’s respiratory illness season
While the international community was caught off-guard by Coronavirus, it’s likely that future flu and virus seasons will continue to grow in numbers and risk. Here are some long-term preventive measures to explore now.
- Install seamless, easy-to-clean work surfaces. A workstation with 3D laminate eliminates seams and edging that retain bacteria or viruses.
- Invest in consoles that allow users to plug in personal devices and mice at the office.
- Stock your office pantry with Vitamin C tablets and fresh fruit. A strong immune system can be the best defense against the spread of flu and coronavirus germs.
- Hire a year-round office cleaning service to sanitize surfaces and keep harmful germs away from your workspace.
Have questions about new console furniture for dispatch, command centers or healthcare? Contact us today!