As we return to the workplace the need for a safe work environment has never been more critical.
And we may need to keep our distance from others for some time to come. New computer modelling research from Harvard University, warns that it may be necessary for intermittent social distancing measures may have to be maintained into 2022 in North America, unless other interventions such as vaccines, drug therapies and aggressive quarantine measures can be put into place.
But there is a good reason why social distancing has become such an important strategy in controlling the Covid-19 pandemic.
Each person infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus is thought to pass it on to an average of 2-3 other people in the early stages of an outbreak. This contagiousness is measured by epidemiologists using something known as a “reproduction number”. By comparison, the Flu has a reproduction number of 1.06-3.4 depending on the strain. Spanish flu was found to have a reproduction number of about 1.8 by one study. Rhinovirus, which is one of those that causes the common cold, has a reproduction number of 1.2-1.83. Most estimates for Covid-19 have put its reproduction number at between 1.4-3.9
The incubation period – the time between infection and symptoms appearing – has been found to be around five days for Covid-19, although it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear, according to research in China. If you are infected, and continue to socialise as normal, it is likely you will pass the virus on to between two and three friends or family members, who could each then go on to infect a further 2-3 people. Within one month one case can lead to 244 other cases in this way and in two months, this soars to 59,604.
Until a vaccine is developed our best weapon is the need to practice anti-viral actions such as Social Distancing, Proper Handwashing, Hand Sanitizer use etc. Wearing Masks and Face Shields. These important steps will need to become habits and as such employees will need to be reminded of this in the “new” post COVID-19 workplace we find ourselves in.
As we begin the slow and cautious return to our places of work after a long and difficult time of government-imposed isolation at home, we need to change the way we do things.
Employers realize that new restrictions and protocols will need to be put in place to keep everyone safe and minimize the threat of infection at work for all their employees. We will need to adapt quickly to this new reality and embrace these tighter restrictions as part of our ongoing Health & Safety protocols.
Companies are urged to employ reminder signage displayed prominently at key locations throughout your office, plant, warehouse etc. These signs will remind employees to maintain social distancing, wash their hands well, wear a mask etc.
As we begin to navigate this new way of doing business, we must balance our desire to ramp up productivity as much as possible but keep our valued employees and customers as safe as possible.
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