Develop a contingency and business continuity plan for an outbreak in the communities where your business operates.
Preventing spread of infection
The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Prevention measures such as those described below should be taken now, even if COVID-19 countermeasures are not in place in your community. The measures should be included in the workplace risk assessment that covers all risks, including those caused by biological agents, as set out in EU and national occupational health and safety legislation.
If it is feasible for your business, promote teleworking across your organisation and allow workers to work flexible hours to minimise crowding the workplace. As part of the COVID-19 countermeasures in your community, the health authorities may advise people to avoid public transport and crowded places. Teleworking will help your business keep operating while your workers stay safe.
Routine environmental cleaning:
Guidance on facemasks
The use of face masks may be considered when working in closed spaces with other persons, or when it is not possible to maintain a safe distance from other people. Such situations may arise not only in the workplace, but also at clients premises, when carrying out visits or deliveries, or when using public transport.
Face masks should only be considered as a complementary measure and not a replacement for established preventive practices, such as physical distancing, cough and sneeze etiquette, hand hygiene and avoiding face touching.
It is essential that workers use face masks properly so that they are effective and safe.
The best way to reduce any risk of infection is good hygiene and avoiding direct or close contact (closer than 2 metres) with any potentially infected person. Any worker who deals with members of the public from behind a screen should be protected from airborne particles.
What to do if someone with suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in the workplace
What to do if a worker or a member of the public becomes unwell and believe they have been exposed to COVID-19
If someone becomes unwell in the workplace and there is reason to suspect they may have come into contact with COVID-19, the person should be removed to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other people. If possible, find a room or area where they can be isolated behind a closed door, such as a staff office. If possible open a window for ventilation.
The individual who is unwell should use their mobile phone to call the designated public health service number. If it is an emergency (if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk) then you should call 112 and explain the situation and relevant information, such as their current symptoms.
Whilst waiting for advice from the designated public health or emergency service, the affected person should remain at least two metres from other people. They should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects and should cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when they cough or sneeze and put the tissue in a bag or pocket then throw the tissue in the bin. If they do not have any tissues available, they should cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow.
If they need to go to the bathroom whilst waiting for medical assistance, they should use a separate bathroom if available.
Consider identifying persons who have conditions that put them at higher risk of serious illness (older people (>60 years) and those with chronic conditions (including hypertension, lung or heart problems, diabetes, or who are undergoing cancer treatment or some other immunosuppression) and pregnant workers) and advising them to take additional precautions, such as staying at home.
What to do if a member of staff or the public with suspected COVID-19 has recently been in your workplace
For contacts of a suspected case in the workplace, follow the guidance given by your national authorities. The management team of the office or workplace will be contacted by the designated public health services to discuss the case, to identify people who have been in contact with them and to advise on any actions or precautions that should be taken.
A risk assessment of each situation will be undertaken by the designated public health services with the lead responsible person in your workplace. They will provide advice on how to manage staff and members of the public, based on their assessment of the risk.
The designated public health services will also be in contact with the affected person directly to advise on isolation and identifying other contacts to whom they will give appropriate advice.
If a worker is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow workers of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality.
Workers exposed to a co-worker with confirmed COVID-19 should be given instructions on what to do according to your company policies and the national authorities´ guidance.
Workers who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their employer and refer to national health services guidance as to how to assess their potential exposure and the measures to take.
When individuals in the workplace have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19
If a confirmed case is identified in your workplace, the designated public health services will provide advice to:
Contacts are not considered cases and if they are feeling well, they are very unlikely to have spread the infection to others:
A confirmed case of COVID-19 in the workplace will cause anxiety among co-workers and some may become stressed. Clear communication is important, directing workers to reliable sources of information about COVID-19. Managers should be supportive and understanding and as far as possible flexible on work arrangements.
Cleaning offices and public spaces where there are suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19
Coronavirus symptoms are similar to a flu-like illness and include dry cough, sore throat, fever, tiredness or shortness of breath. Once symptomatic, all surfaces that the person has come into contact with must be cleaned including:
Public areas where a symptomatic individual has passed through and spent minimal time in (such as corridors) but which are not visibly contaminated with body fluids do not need to be specially cleaned and disinfected.
If a person becomes ill in a shared space, these should be cleaned using disposable cloths and the usual detergents, according to current recommended workplace legislation and practice. Precautionary measures should be taken to protect cleaners.
All waste that has been in contact with the individual, including used tissues, and masks if used, should be put in a plastic rubbish bag and tied when full. The plastic bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied. It should be put in a safe place and marked for storage until the result is available. If the individual tests negative, this can be put in the normal waste. Should the individual test positive, you will be instructed what to do with the waste by public health authorities.
Returning from travel to affected areas
People who have returned from areas where COVID-19 countermeasures are in effect in the last 14 days should avoid attending work. They should call the designated public health service for advice and self-isolate.
Advice from your national public health authority is in place for what to do if you have returned in the last 14 days from specified countries or areas, which is updated on an ongoing basis.
All other staff should continue to attend work, unless otherwise advised by the national authorities or their employer.
Advice for staff returning from travel anywhere else within the last 14 days
These staff can continue to attend work unless they have been informed that they have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. If individuals are aware that they have had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 they should contact their employer and the designated public health services for further advice.
Organising meetings or events
Organisers of meetings and events need to think about the potential risk from COVID-19 because:
BEFORE the meeting or event
DURING the meeting or event
AFTER the meeting