Oct 12, 2020
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Coronavirus in the office: prevention

The incidence of COVID-19 in Russia is on the rise again. The relevance of the question of how not to get infected in the workplace is increasing every day. Consider it with an emphasis on the security measures that office workers need.

The office can be dangerous

The World Health Organization points out that in an office environment that does not involve frequent contact with colleagues and clients, the risk of COVID-19 is low. However, it is known that offices play a rather important role in the spread of infection. For example, in Croatia, 10.5% of known cases of the disease were associated with infection. On average, according to data from 10 European countries, disease clusters in the office usually cover seven (2-23) people. Such massive cases of infection contribute to the spread of infection in families and among the social circle of office workers.

Scientists have identified possible factors that increase the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks in offices that are directly related to the office environment. These include:

  • common office space;
  • lunch in the common dining room;
  • meeting with a large number of people in one room;
  • communication of staff in addition to work issues.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clarifies that the more and more closely you interact with other people at work, the higher your risk of infection.

General rules of prevention work in the office too

General COVID-19 prevention measures are universal and must be followed in all circumstances. It is necessary:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If hand washing is not available, they can be treated with an antiseptic containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • You should not touch your face with dirty hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people (outside the home, keep a distance of about two meters).
  • Wear a mask when there are other people around.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing. After that, the napkin must be thrown into a basket with a lid, hands must be disinfected.
  • Periodically disinfect the surfaces you come into contact with.
  • Monitor your health. If symptoms of illness appear, you should not go to work.

Office specificity of COVID-19 prevention

A number of preventive measures depend on the employer, for example, the installation of protective screens and the organization of temperature measurement. However, workers must do their part to prevent illness.

  • Keep a "protective kit" in the workplace: a mask and an antiseptic.
  • Reduce the number of contacts at work as much as possible. Remember that coronavirus can be contracted from a person without symptoms. If possible, meetings with colleagues are best done virtually.
  • Mask wearing and social distancing should be a strict rule. Remember that indoors, the risk of infection is higher.
  • The length of time you spend with other people also matters. The shorter it is, the lower the risk of infection. Accordingly, this time should be cut as much as possible.
  • Try not to use other people's things and equipment: pens, tables, phones, and so on. If necessary, it would be correct to disinfect these items before and after use.
  • If possible, you should not come to work in someone else's office.
  • Wash and disinfect items that you touch frequently: keyboards, telephone, doorknobs, etc.
  • The premises need to be ventilated every two hours (ideally, this responsibility lies with the employer).
  • Rospotrebnadzor does not recommend eating at the workplace: this requires a separate room or a dining room, it is necessary to organize shift meals.

Dr. Eric Cioe-Pena, associate professor at the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, advises to keep calm at work. “We have to take this with the right level of seriousness, protect people at risk, but others need to curb their fears and just get through it. Do the right thing, but avoid panic, ”he says.

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