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Covid-19 Safety in the Workplace: How To Prevent Virus Exposure Between Employees

Nadhif Seto Sanubari

03 September 2020

The PSBB transition period is extended once more, which means health and hygiene protocols must still be applied by the populace. At this point, you must already know the simple things such as wearing a mask and washing your hands regularly (and hopefully you’ve been doing it too). But beyond the personal habits, there are further things we can do to reduce the risk of Covid-19 spread in public places such as the office. Though there are many of you who are allowed to work from home, many employees are still required to commute to the office whether in weekly shifts or every day. As a closed space occupied by multiple people, office spaces may pose a high risk for Covif-19 spread, so it is a good idea for employees and managers alike to know what can be done to minimize this risk. Based on pointers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following are some ways you can prevent Covid-19 exposure in your workplace.

Building Inspection and Improving Air Ventilation

Before proceeding with reopenings and continuing work operations, it is recommended for the building manager to check whether or not the building is in good enough condition to be used again, especially after a long period of disuse due to quarantine. Check for hazards such as mold, rodents, or pests, as well as problems with stagnant water systems, and make repairs if necessary. Make sure the ventilation system in the office is working properly. Increase outdoor air circulation as much as possible by opening windows and doors whenever possible, and using a fan or air conditioner. However, windows and doors are better closed if doing so presents a safety or health risk (for example, the risk of falling or inhaling pollutants and contaminants from the outdoor environment such as carbon monoxide).

[Found a Transition Period rule violation? Here how to report it]

Identifying Prone Locations and Room Disinfections

Each building must have locations that are more prone to the transmission of the virus, such as small closed rooms that are often shared. These places need to be identified and secured to create a safe work environment. Carry out a comprehensive hazard assessment in the workplace to identify potential hazards that could increase the risk of spreading Covid-19. Identify work areas and common spaces where employees can have close contact (within 1.5 meters) with other people, for example, meeting rooms, break rooms, cafeterias, locker rooms, check-in areas, waiting areas, and routes of entry or exit. Communicate all findings and planned health protocols to all employees, including management, janitorial staff, and maintenance staff.

Signs, tape, or other visual clues such as stickers or colored tape on the floor can be used to show where to stand when physical obstructions are not possible. Guidelines like these can be used in elevators, stairs, and corridors to maintain a safe distance while employees walk around the office. Also, use warning signs to prevent touching elevator buttons or railings directly.

When high-risk areas have been identified, give more focus to these areas when cleaning and disinfecting the rooms. Even so, all rooms in the building still need to go through a disinfection process at least once a day. Clean and disinfect all surfaces that are frequently touched by many people, such as door handles, desks, light switches, faucets, desks, keyboards, telephones, handrails, and printers/copiers. The frequency of cleaning and disinfection may need to be adjusted based on the level of use.

Physical Distancing and Employee Safety

The most important thing about maintaining the safety and health of employees is to communicate the protocols that must be followed and ensure that everything is applied with discipline. Because even though the building has been prepared in various ways, everyone’s health and safety is still in the hands of each individual. Change or reposition the chairs and desks to keep a physical distance of 1.5 meters between employees, if possible. Install transparent barriers or other physical obstructions to separate employees and visitors if physical distancing is not possible. Arrange seats in reception, waiting areas, or other seating areas by rotating, marking, spacing, or removing chairs to maintain a safe distance.

Replace common amenities that are frequently touched, such as water coolers, coffee makers, and snacks with alternatives such as packaged disposable items. Encourage employees to bring personal water bottles to minimize water dispenser use or consider installing a touchless activation method.

Perform daily live or virtual health checks (symptom and temperature checks) for employees before entering the worksite. Employees who show symptoms of Covid-19 or have family members who are sick at home are encouraged to report their condition and stay at home. Employees who appear to have symptoms upon arrival at work or who are ill during the day should be immediately separated from others, given a mask, and sent home with instructions to follow-up with a healthcare provider. Last but not least, remind employees that other people may be able to spread Covid-19 even if they are asymptomatic, and to consider any close interactions as a potential risk of transmission.

And these have been several things you can do as an employee or employer in an office space. You can also perform a self-assessment test using the JakCLM feature on the JAKI app every week. By doing the tips listed above as well as reminding coworkers to do the same, exposure risks in the workplace can be reduced. However, working from home is still the safest option, so avoid leaving your home at all if possible.


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Nadhif Seto Sanubari

Penulis dan penerjemah alumni Universitas Bina Nusantara, dengan pengalaman internasional di University of Bradford, UK dan Deakin University, Australia.

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