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‘How to prevent coronavirus in workplace’

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Amid the outbreak of coronavirus, the need for employers to invest in workers’ awareness on prevention and control of the deadly disease has become paramount.

Experts said there must be more investment by employers to halt the spread of the virus.

A labour expert, Issa Aremu, gave some hints in preventing the virus, such as regular and washing of the hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or sanitiser or washing of hands with soap and water.

He urged workers to adhere to advice given by healthcare provider, national and local public health authority and employers on how to protect themselves and others from the virus.

Meanwhile, a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has found that third of businesses have no plan in place if one of their employees tests positive for Covid-19.

It also revealed how Human Resource (HR) professionals are responding to the virus, with experts stressing the importance of patient confidentiality.

The survey by CIPD polled more than 640 HR professionals to find out what they are doing in their organisations to deal with the threats posed to the health of employees and their businesses.

Majority of the professionals answered questions on continuity of planning, sick pay and self-isolation. The poll found 33 per cent of employers did not have a plan in place in case one of their employees tested positive to Coronavirus.

A lecturer of Human Resource Management at Cranfield University, Dr. Debora Gottardello, said  in the event of an employee contracting the virus, the relevant authorities, such as local authority health protection teams, must be notified.

“HR can also communicate to employees the presence of a case within the company, making sure to maintain the confidentiality of employees with confirmed Coronavirus,” Gottardello added.

She advised that employers’ legal obligation to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees meant that collaboration is necessary.

She said workers also have an obligation to report to the employer any situation of danger to health and safety in the workplace.

Partner at Langleys Solicitors, Mini Setty, reiterated that businesses must withhold the infected employee’s identity under the country’s data protection law.

“A worker’s personal health data is ‘special category data’, and, therefore, must be omitted from any communication with the rest of the workforce,” Setty said.

Chief Executive Officer, BrightHR, Alan Price, said employers that find themselves in a potential outbreak situation should ask affected employees to self-isolate, and that communication with their co-workers should remain calm.

“If colleagues could have been exposed to an individual suffering from the virus, employers should calmly inform staff of the situation and tell them what steps the company will take going forward,” Price said.

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