Corona at work: with these measures you can reduce the risk of the virus spreading in your organisation

Currently, a few dozen fellow Belgians are infected with the corona virus (Covid-19). Your organisation is probably closely monitoring the developments. Using a few prevention measures you can help to limit the risk of the corona virus spreading in your organisation.

The new corona virus Covid-19 spreads in a similar way to the flu. When coughing or exhaling, an infected person disperses small drops of saliva which contain the virus. These drops end up on surfaces and objects such as desks, keyboards and telephones.

Employees who come into contact with such contaminated surfaces or objects and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth can become infected. Those standing less than a metre away from a corona patient, also risk coming into contact with the virus via minuscule drops of saliva.

Avoid contamination using preventive action

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends various preventive measures to combat the spread of the corona virus at work.

These measures are useful in every organisation, even if no-one is infected. Then, should the corona virus still emerge in your company, they will help to limit or even prevent it spreading.

Provide a clean and hygienic workplace
Regularly clean surfaces (such as desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones and keyboards) with a disinfectant. Contact with contaminated surfaces is one of the main ways in which the corona virus spreads.

Get employees and visitors to wash their hands regularly and thoroughly

Encourage proper behaviour when sneezing or coughing

  • Responsible behaviour when coughing and sneezing is essential to prevent the spread of the corona virus. So hang up informative posters  as well as sharing them via internal channels.
  • Provide paper tissues plus closed waste bins for the disposal of used tissues.

Establish clear guidelines

  • Employees who feel healthy, even if they've been in contact with an infected person can come to work as usual. Employees who are ill and (may) have come into contact with the virus, must stay at home. They should contact their general practitioner by telephone for advice.
  • Is an employee infected? Then all those with a mild cough or slight temperature (as from 37.3°C) must stay at home. You cannot force anyone who cannot be shown to be ill to remain at home, unless you continue to pay their normal wage.
  • Communicate clearly if the situation in your organisation changes, and make the most recent information and guidelines clearly visible in your company. Remove outdated information to prevent confusion.

More information about the impact of prevention measures on employment law can be found on our Q&A or on the site of FPS Employment.

Be prepared for an infection

The above measures help you to prevent the spread of the corona virus. Even so, there is still the chance that an employee will become infected and will transmit the virus to colleagues. It is therefore best to consider the necessary measures to guarantee the continuity of your business should the corona virus affect your organisation.

Define a plan of action in the event of an infection at work. This describes:

  • the authorities and people that must be contacted and those responsible for doing so;
  • how to identify higher-risk employees, without causing any stigma. Examples include employees who have recently visited affected areas or run more risk of becoming seriously ill, such as those over 65, and those with serious chronic ailments or less immunity.

To be prepared for a possible corona epidemic– or other threat – you can set up a business continuity plan. This summarises activities and communication to keep your service going. Even if some of your employees, suppliers and customers are unavailable due to illness or local travel restrictions.

This plan features things such as the processes that must not be or can only temporarily be interrupted, the required resources, how many employees and which functions are indispensable …