The current Coronavirus (Covid 19) outbreak is starting to have a direct impact on UK workplace practices. This article will provide coronavirus guidance and support for facilities managers. It will explain what it is, how best to deal with it now and what to do in the event of an outbreak.
What is coranavirus (COVID 19)?
The new outbreak of Coronavirus (Covid-19), is an infectious respiratory disease. It is related to the SARS virus that spread in 2003. It can transfer from one person to another via respiratory droplets. These infectious droplets spread via coughing and sneezing. Symptoms show on average after five days of being in contact with a carrier, but can take up to 12 days to appear.
The disease originated in China and has already spread globally. As of today, there are several hundred confirmed cases in the UK, and the government is close to raising its threat level. Experts are working round the clock to create a vaccine to combat its spread. Anybody over the age of 40 is considered at risk, especially if they have any underlying medical issues.
How facilities managers can limit the spread
It is clear from a recent article by the World Health Organisation (WHO), that maintaining a clean environment helps stop the spread of the disease. The virus can stay on a surface from 12 hours, right up to 9 days. So, regularly cleaning the office should be a high priority.
Coronavirus guidance and support for facilities managers
To deal with the situation in a responsible and measured way, you can separate your coronavirus action plan into two separate parts. The first would involve putting in place practical, healthy guidelines in the office. The second part would entail putting further steps in place to handle any potential outbreak.
What is the course of action to minimise outbreaks
Raise awareness among employees about the following best practices for good hygiene in the workplace. You can remind them in meetings, place posters in the office and via any internal communication.
- Remind both employees and visitors to the office to wash their hands regularly. Also, point out the bathroom areas to new visitors to the office. Replenish soap dispensers in all locations.
- provide hand sanitiser at reception, or any other areas where hand washing is not practical.
- Ask employees to keep their workspaces free of clutter and rubbish. Also, to leave the desk tidy at the end of the working day. This allows cleaning staff to spend their time on cleaning, rather than tidying.
- Encourage people to cough or sneeze into a tissue and then place the used tissue into a designated bin (preferably with a closable lid). They should then thoroughly wash their hands. Place the designated bins strategically throughout the office.
- All surfaces in the office should be cleaned regularly, such as worktables, phones, keyboards and “touchpoints”.
- Advise your cleaners to wash cleaning cloths regularly at high temperatures, as the virus appears not to survive temperatures above 27C.
- Encourage anyone with symptoms to self-isolate and stay at home. Inform employees that if they have to stay at home due to an outbreak, they can claim it as sick pay.
What steps might be necessary if a case has been reported
- In the event of a confirmed case of Coronavirus within your team or their close circle, that individual should not come to work. Symptoms include a cough or a raised temperature (37.8C or higher).
- We would also recommend a deep clean of the area – NuServe uses a revolutionary electro-static sanitiser and disinfectant solution to effectively disinfect all surfaces.
- In the meantime, remember to wash all cleaning cloths, and other cleaning material, at a high temperature to kill the virus.
- You could consider using a specialised commercial cleaning company to help deep clean your office. Commercial cleaners have thorough and organised cleaning patterns and use specialised equipment. They can also point out any “problem” areas and advise on the best cleaning practices. This advice can give you additional support and further help to protect your employees.
There is currently no vaccine for the Coronavirus. At the time of writing, the UK Government has advised people to work from home where possible, but offices are not forced to close. Delaying the spread is the current approach (but this will no doubt change).