Safety precautions to consider and safety tips that can help when employees may be required or advised to practice physical or social distancing measures at work to prevent or slow the transmission of airborne illnesses, like coronavirus.
To reduce the risk of transmission of infectious disease, like the coronavirus, it may be advisable for workers to continue physical distancing practices while at work, especially when social distancing measures are still recommended by health officials. It is important to recognize that the optimal way to prevent airborne transmission of any virus is to use a combination of safety practices. Employees may be advised to also wear a mask or cloth face covering when physical distancing safety measures are in place but difficult to maintain in some work situations.
A significant portion of people with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before they start showing symptoms. This means the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity – for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing – even if those people are not showing symptoms.
The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is a highly contagious respiratory illness that is spread mainly from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) for a prolonged period through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
Social distancing, also called physical distancing, means to keep space between yourself and other people outside of your home. Minimizing face-to-face contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
To practice social distancing, employees should make an effort, when possible, to
Social distancing helps limit opportunities to come in contact with contaminated surfaces and infected people outside the home or at work.
Single-file movement throughout indoor facilities is encouraged while maintaining a 6-foot distance from other workers. If visual social distancing cues (like floor tape, signs, etc.) have been implemented in the workplace, it is requested that all employees respect the social distancing guidelines as shown.
Workers should maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others at all times, including when they are on breaks. Avoid congregating in restrooms, parking areas, locker rooms, near time clocks, in offices and while eating or getting coffee.
Keep frequently touched common surfaces clean, including telephones, desks, tools, work benches and equipment and limit unnecessary visitors in the work area.
Handshaking is discouraged. Use other non-contact methods of greeting.
Eliminate non-essential meetings, or take them online if possible. Consider using email, teleconferencing or videoconferencing for meetings or communications that may have previously been held in-person. If in-person meetings are unavoidable, break them into smaller groups of people instead of holding a larger gathering.
Cancel, adjust, or postpone large work-related meetings or gatherings that can only occur in-person in accordance with state and local regulations and guidance. When videoconferencing or teleconferencing is not possible, hold meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces continuing to maintain a distance of 6 feet apart and wear cloth face coverings.
Where work trailers are used, all workers should maintain social distancing inside the trailers. Personnel may be limited to a certain number of people allowed in at any one time.
Although the risk of severe illness may be different for everyone, anyone can get and spread coronavirus. Everyone has a role to play in slowing the spread and protecting themselves, their family, and their community.
If carpooling or using shared transportation to/from work, wear a face mask while in the vehicle. Practice coughing and sneezing etiquette when traveling in a shared vehicle. Wash your hands immediately upon arriving at work and always wash your hands after physical contact with anyone at work. Continue social distancing practices outside of work.
Stay home if you are sick. Employees who appear to have symptoms including fever, cough or shortness of breath should contact their supervisor and stay at home. Employees who begin to develop symptoms or feel ill during the course of the work day should separate themselves from the work environment immediately and contact their supervisor.
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