The annual World Day for Safety and Health at Work on 28 April promotes the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally. According to the United Nations, The COVID-19 pandemic has touched nearly every aspect of the world of work, from the risk of transmission of the virus in workplaces.
Sister (Sr) Michelle Pieters, Quality Assurance Coordinator for the Department of Health in the Overberg, says Occupational Health and Safety is an essential practice in the workplace. “A clean and healthy working environment is not only law but reduces absenteeism and enables a pleasant working environment. It is important that the employer and employee work together to enable a safe and healthy working environment.”
By putting simple measures in place at your work place you can protect yourself and others. These measures include always wearing your mask over your nose and mouth, washing or sanitising your hands when you arrive at work and often during the day, for example after touching any high touch surfaces. High-touch surfaces include cell phones, office telephones, countertops, doorknobs, light switches, key pads, tables, chairs, toilets, taps, and sinks. Make sure you wash your hands before eating and drinking and after using the toilet. You can keep your work surfaces and high touch surfaces clean by disinfecting it with diluted bleach. You can make this by mixing 6 teaspoons of bleach with 1 litre of water.
While hands and surface cleaning are important, we know that air droplets cause most COVID-19 infections, as humans breathe in small droplets containing the virus. It is therefore essential to stay at least 1,5 m away from other people and not to share work surfaces. It is best if desk and workstations are spaced apart. Likewise, maintain your distance during tea time or lunch time and avoid crowded staff rooms. Rather take your break outside if you can and wash your hands when you return.
Sr Pieters adds that it also important to limit your steps in the office. “By making a phone call instead of walking to your colleague’s office and making use of online meeting platforms you already reduce your potential exposure to the virus.”
As many people use public transport to commute to work and back, it is important to limit the risk of COVID-19 spreading on public transport. It is very important that you stay home if you feel sick. If you are at a high risk of getting severe COVID-19, speak to your employer about alternative work arrangements if possible. You can also make travelling by public transport safer by wearing a clean cloth mask at all times, avoid touching the surfaces and washing and sanitising your hands frequently, keeping your distance from other people, and ensuring there is sufficient ventilation by opening the windows.
If we all play our part by doing simple things, we protect one another and thus contain the spread of COVID-19. Our behaviour matters!