During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, up to one third of Americans were working from home, compared to just 6 percent who worked from home prior. Working remotely has many benefits, including increased flexibility and less time spent in traffic, but one of the biggest perks is infection control and prevention—and not just for COVID. The safety precautions taken to reduce COVID transmission, including remote work, have sharply reduced the rates of other repository illnesses, such as the flu.
Now, as the public and private industries relax their COVID restrictions and the country begins to regain a semblance of normalcy, many employers are wondering how they can continue to prevent the spread of infection within their walls. According to a Monster survey, about 57 percent of employees said they sometimes come into work sick, while about 33 percent said they always come to work when sick. That means that the best chance a business has of preventing the spread of infection and losing a good portion of their workforce to illness is to incorporate proactive health and safety measures.
Here are 10 infection control and prevention best practices for businesses.
- Frequently sanitize common surfaces. One of the simplest methods for infection prevention is regularly cleaning common surfaces, such as door handles, light switches, tables and computers.
- Encourage employees to clean after themselves. By placing hand sanitizer, wipes, and cleaning products within eyesight and easy reach of employees, it can encourage them to keep spaces and surfaces clean.
- Incorporate touchless options. From digital solutions (like touchless sinks and hand dryers) to manual ones (like foot pulls for swinging doors) incorporating touchless options into the workplace can reduce the amount of shared surfaces and slow the transmission of disease.
- Review waste disposal policies. It is important for businesses to have clear processes for disposing of waste in a sanitary way. This is especially true of the healthcare, hospitality, and personal services industries where improperly disposed waste and trash could spread disease.
- Increase ventilation naturally. If it is possible to increase the amount of natural ventilation in your place of business, it can reduce the transmission of airborne diseases.
- Utilize air filters. If it’s too cold to open windows, or natural ventilation isn’t an option in your building, there are other methods you can use, including air filters. Even portable air filters are extremely efficient at cleaning the air of the water droplets that COVID-19 and other airborne diseases ride on.
- Review first aid procedures. In industries where employees are working with food, or directly with customers, it is important for them to understand how to properly care for wounds, employ good hygiene, and recognize the signs of illness.
- Encourage wellness. Infection prevention is not just about stopping the spread of disease. It is also about preventing the disease in the first place. By encouraging wellness initiatives in the workplace, you can reduce the chances that employees will fall ill.
- Have a flexible work from home policy. If employees feel the freedom and support to work from home or take off work when they are ill, it will prevent them from feeling obligated to return to the workplace and spread their infection to others.
- Be transparent. If there is a risk in the workplace, such as an employee who has fallen ill, it is important to inform other workers. This can be done in a way to protect the privacy of the sick individual while still giving others the information they need to make informed decisions about their health.
Life Balance Technologies has developed an integrated solution for air balance auditing that reviews 100 percent of a facility for infection risk. The Life Balance process integrates the mechanical design, HVAC inventory, room application, and industry standards to audit the infection control parameters of an entire building. To learn more about this innovative technology, visit our Software page.