COVID symptoms within the workplace
The virus is expected to remain in the population for some time, even after lockdown restrictions have been eased and people begin to return to work. This will cause anxiety for people who will also want to understand how any outbreaks in the workplace will be handled. As part of risk assessments facility operators should explore with trade union or workforce representatives how to respond should anyone develop symptoms while at work, including whether it is possible to identify any particular parts of the site the individual may have accessed or equipment used while symptomatic. As part of this consideration should be given how best to monitor health of all individuals in a workplace.
Workers have a responsibility to ensure they adhere to overall COVID-19 advice which says people with symptoms should remain at home and self-isolate. Facility operators and workers should remain in regular communication throughout any period of self-isolation with facility operators encouraged to work with trade union or workforce representatives to enable individuals to work from home while self-isolating if appropriate.
What action needs to be taken if someone becomes unwell with symptoms of COVID19 whilst on site at your organisation:
- in preparation, make sure that all staff and individuals in your workplace/organisation, including children and young people, know to inform a member of staff or responsible person if they feel unwell.
- if the affected person has mild symptoms they should go home as soon as they notice symptoms and follow the guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection.
- where possible they should minimise contact with others, e.g. use a private vehicle to go home. If it is not possible to use private transport, then they should be advised to return home quickly and directly, and if possible, wear a face covering in line with Scottish Government guidance. If using public transport, they should try to keep away from other people and catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue. If they don’t have any tissues available, they should coughand sneeze into the crook of the elbow.
- if they are so unwell that they require an ambulance, phone 999 and let the call handler know you are concerned about COVID-19. Whilst you wait for advice or an ambulance to arrive, try to find somewhere safe for the unwell person to sit which is at least 2 metres away from other people.
- if possible and it is safe to do so, find a room or area where they can be isolated behind a closed door, such as a staff office or meeting room. If it is possible to open a window, do so for ventilation. The individual should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects and be advised to cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when they cough or sneeze,
- and then put the tissue in the bin. If no bin is available, put the tissue in a bag or pocket for Health Protection Scotland disposing in a bin later. If you don’t have any tissues available, they should cough and
- sneeze into the crook of their elbow. Were possible, a separate bathroom should be designated for the individual to use.
Environmental decontamination (cleaning and disinfection) after apossible case has left a workplace or other non-healthcare setting
Cleaning and disinfection
Once a possible case has left the premises, the immediate area occupied by the individual, should be cleaned with detergent to remove organic matter such as dust or body fluids then a disinfectant to kill pathogens. This should include any potentially contaminated high contact areas Once thisprocess has been completed, the area can be put back into use.
Any public areas where a symptomatic or COVID-19 diagnosed individual has only passed through (spent minimal time in), e.g. corridors, and which are not visibly contaminated with any body fluids, do not need to be further decontaminated beyond routine cleaning processes.
Environmental cleaning and disinfection should be undertaken using disposable cloths and mop heads using standard household detergent and disinfectant that are active against viruses and bacteria.
Follow manufacturer’s instructions for dilution, application and contact times for all detergents and disinfectants. All cloths and mop heads used must be disposed of and should be put into waste bags as outlined below. The person responsible for undertaking the cleaning with detergent and disinfectant should be familiar with these processes and procedures.
In the event of a blood and body fluid spillage, keep people away from the area. Use a spillkit if available, using the personal protective equipment (PPE) within the kit or PPE provided by the employer/organisation, and follow the instructions provided with the spill-kit. If no spill-Health Protection Scotland kit is available, place paper towels over the spill, and seek further advice from the local Health Protection Team.
In situations where belongings are being removed from the home of a deceased individual, the belongings should first be cleaned with a general household detergent active against viruses and bacteria.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for environmental decontamination
Occupations should continue to use any PPE required as per local policies (business as usual). If a risk assessment of the setting indicates that a higher level of contamination may be present (for example, where unwell individuals have slept such as a hotel room or boarding school dormitory) or there is visible contamination with body fluids, then the need for additional PPE, such as an apron and gloves, should be considered.
Ensure all waste items that have been in contact with the individual (e.g. used tissues and disposable cleaning cloths) are disposed of securely within disposable bags. When full, the plastic bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied. These bags should be stored for 72 hours before being put out for collection. Other general waste can be disposed of as normal.
Wash items in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest water setting and dry items completely. Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an unwell person should be laundered separately where possible. Do not shake dirty laundry, as this minimises the possibility of dispersing virus through the air.
Clean and disinfect anything used for transporting laundry with your usual products, in line with the cleaning guidance above.
If you do not have access to a washing machine in your setting, ensure dirty laundry is kept bagged at home for 72 hours before taking to the launderette. After handling dirty laundry ensure hand hygiene is carried out.
Deliveries and contractors
As a minimum we expect facility operators to treat all site visitors including contractors, suppliers and those making deliveries, as if they were workers, ensuring they are offered the same protections and are expected to follow the same rules.
Many sites, especially larger sites, may normally have a number of contractors not employed by the facility operator running the site. This presents increased risk of virus transmission if people do not adhere to the same interpretation of rules. To address this risk facility operators should consider limiting site access to those who need to be there for safe operation. Ensure safe working practices and production related activities and implementing a permit to work system for contractors and external visitors who still need to access the site. This would set out requirements for how everyone behaves on a site including entering and leaving the site, clarifying responsibilities for all around maintaining good hygiene and physical distancing.