World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2021: Mitigating and preventing the Spread of COVID-19 at the workplace

by Leziel G. Bandiola and Bubot V. Sueta, APRIL 2021

This month is a celebration of our World Health and Safety Month worldwide. COVID-19 pandemic has had a great impact in every aspect all in the world, not just in our home and community, but also in the corporate world.

Based on the recently conducted studies of ILO in World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2021: Anticipate, prepare and respond to crises — Invest Now in Resilient OSH Systems, “Twenty-thirty percent of new COVID-19 infections may be attributed to workplace exposure in some countries (ILO and WHO 2021d). Workplaces in which workers spend time indoors close to one another. Including during work interactions, shared accommodations, and transport (WHO 2020f) have, in some cases, become sources of outbreaks of the virus. This may be attributed to the difficulty of practicing physical distancing indoors and poor ventilation.”

ILO and WHO 2021d

“In addition to the risk of acquiring the novel coronavirus, workers in all sectors have faced other hazards during the pandemic that have emerged due to new work practices and procedures adopted to mitigate the spread of the virus. Mitigation strategies have rapidly been adopted, including administrative and engineering controls, WFH (Work From Home) Arrangements increased used of PPE and disinfection, etc. These measures might help slow the spread of the virus, but they can create new OSH (Occupational Safety and Health) Risks, including chemical, ergonomic, and psychosocial hazards. 

Health and emergency workers – but also essentials workers – have faced many stressful situations at work as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic. Increased workloads, longer working hours, and reduces rest periods have become the norm during the crisis. The risk of violence and harassment at work has also risen, with consequences for both physical and mental well-being.”

Here are the simple yet fundamental ways that we can contribute as individual not to spread the virus.

1. Correct PPE’s

Face Mask

What kind of masks?

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com
  • Medical Mask are recommended for: health workers; anyone who is feeling unwell, including people with mild symptoms (such as muscle aches, slight cough, sore throat, or fatigue); anyone waiting for their COVID-19 test; positive with COVID-19; people who are caring for suspected or a COVID-19 patient; people age 60 or over because they are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 and dying; people with underlying conditions (including chronic respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, immunocompromised patients, and diabetes mellitus).
  • Non-medical, fabric masks can be used by the general public under the age of 60 and who do not have underlying health conditions.

How to improve your wearing of masks?

  • Always check that your mask should cover your cheek, chin, and nose.
  • Double masking. One way to do this is to wear a medical procedure mask underneath a cloth mask. A recent study conducted in a laboratory found that this combination provided much better protection to the wearer and others as compared with a cloth mask by itself or a medical procedure mask by itself.

It is not advisable to combine two medical procedure masks. Medical procedure masks are not designed to fit tightly and wearing a second medical procedure mask on top of the first medical procedure mask does not help to improve the fit. Likewise, do not combine a KN95 mask with any other masks. You should only use one KN95 mask at a time, and you should not use any type of the second mask on top of or underneath a K95 mask.

Gloves

WHO does not advise using gloves by people in the community. Instead, WHO encourages the installation of public hand hygiene stations at the entrance and exit of public places, such as supermarkets or public/private buildings. This helps reduce germs brought in by people’s hands. By widely improving hand hygiene practices, countries can help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and other infections.

2. Be Healthy

  • Eat healthy foods
  • Stay hydrated, drink a lot of water
  • Take your vitamins/supplements
  • Don’t skip meals

3. Proper Hygiene

  • Dispose of the tissue immediately
  • Wash hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based disinfectant
  • Avoid physical contact when greeting.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth without having previously performed hand hygiene and disinfection

4. Consider your Psychological health

  • Make psychological counseling services available to workers in case of need
  • Adequate Rest
  • Encourage health promotion and wellbeing
  • Communicate
  • Pay attention to your emotional needs, consider your feelings

5. Be updated

  • Always check and update emergency plans
  • Update yourself with the reliable sources

6. Be Vaccinated. Vaccination is an important way to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting severe COVID-19. The best vaccine that we can have, is the one available.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

“Occupational safety and health must be considered as a fundamental investment to protect workers and their families and to ensure the continuity of companies.”

International Labor Organization (ILO)

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About the writers:

Leziel G. Bandiola. On the job with ISO 9001 Quality Management System for more than five years and counting. Since I transferred here in MPTS I have been exposed to Environment, Safety and Health. I have been with the newsletter team for more than a year now, a lot of lesson was learned and more exciting facts to unveiled as I work with this growing team.<3

Bubot V. Sueta. Environment Safety and Health Specialist, father of three beautiful children, a loving and faithful husband…. Graduated in Centro Escolar University with a degree of Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication Major in Broadcast. A Safety Officer for 10 years. Safety at work and home are his priorities. Ensures that the Project Site are free from hazards, all workers at site are knowledgeable on their activity and have a core value of safety awareness. The goal is to deliver the project on time with Quality and most importantly with ZERO Loss Time Incident.

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