Coronavirus: Key Risks for Retail Workers and Strategies to Keep Them Safe and Healthy

Coronavirus has the taken the world by storm and it is affecting retails workers. Here is a Coronavirus preparation for retail workers to keep them safe

The coronavirus continues to wreak havoc across the globe. This deadly virus has not spared Australia. There are now more than 2,000 reported cases and of coronavirus and eight confirmed deaths from coronavirus in Australia.

Australia’s government is taking extreme measures such as banning all unessential travel, unessential gatherings and outings such as pubs, restaurants and cafes, cinemas, gyms, indoor sporting venues and indoor places of worship. However, essential retail services are still currently operating and these include supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, petrol stations, post offices, bottle shops, shopping centres and many others.

The threat posed by coronavirus extends well beyond health concerns. Now, the global economy is being prematurely forced into a massive recession. In particular, the retail industry is being hit hard, with restaurants and food venues closing although still being able to operate to for takeaway’s only.

To continue operations, retailers must think about what steps are necessary to keep their workers safe. Read on for a comprehensive guide to coronavirus preparation for the retail industry. Explore topics such as telecommuting and workplace sanitation safety.

How long does coronavirus last on surfaces?

This is an important question for retail workers. Many people are under the misconception that coronavirus is only transmitted by coughs or sneezes. The truth is that it is an airborne disease and can live on different surfaces for several days.

In temperatures less than four degrees Celsius, coronavirus can live up to 28 days. On plastic or steel surfaces, coronavirus lasts up to three days. The virus can also survive on cardboard for roughly 24 hours.

These are all materials and surfaces that retail workers deal with on a daily basis.

It is very important for workers to routinely disinfect these surfaces. In addition, employees should operate under the assumption that they could be in contact with the virus on boxes or shelves.

How can retail workers practice good hygiene?

Good hygiene is critical to limiting the spread of the virus. This all starts and ends with routine and thorough hand washing.

Before entering the workplace, employees should wash their hands. This alone will help prevent the spread of the coronavirus throughout the workplace.

In addition, retailers should provide hand sanitiser stations throughout the workplace with some based at the entrance and exits at a minimum. This way, employees can disinfect their hands before and leaving a workspace. 

Another important element to good hygiene is not touching your face. If an employee has to cough or sneeze, they should cough or sneeze into their arms and disinfect their hands immediately. 

Lastly, there should not be any physical contact and observing the recommended social distancing guidelines of 1.5 metres needs to be communicated and monitored to ensure adherence by all employees.

what can employees do to maintain a safe environment?

Employers and their managers cannot leave it up to their employees alone to prevent coronavirus spread. Instead, employers can help by enacting policies that promote a safe work environment.

For starters, try initiating reminders for employees and colleagues to wash their hands and disinfect surfaces regularly. Ensure there are enough supplies for employees to use for personal hygiene including soap, hand sanitiser, and disinfectant wipes.

In addition, you can support the workforce from a utility standpoint. Adjust the temperature in the warehouse or office building to promote air circulation. If possible, open up windows to let fresh air into the workspace.

Lastly, encourage employees to be open and transparent about their health. If they feel sick, advise them that they should stay home without fear of repercussion or negative consequences. This liberal attendance policy should be extended to workers who have sick family members as well.

should employees' individual risk factors matter?

Management should be considerate of each individual employee’s risk factors. As it pertains to coronavirus, not all employees are considered equal.

Based on their health and any preconditions, certain employees are more vulnerable to coronavirus than others. Age is another factor to consider when evaluating an employee’s risk. Older workers are more at risk than younger ones.

Each company should weigh their options for older employees and those with medical preconditions. Perhaps they can take accrued sick leave or provided the opportunity to temporarily work from home.

Another option to consider for vulnerable employees is staggered work schedules. Think about putting at-risk employees in a later shift where fewer workers are on shift.

what about remote communication?

Organisations can establish remote communication capability to assist. The best way to stop the spread of the coronavirus is through social distancing.

The truth is that not every employee needs to be physically present during this time. Some employees can still perform their core functions while working remotely and/or from home. White-collar employees like finance or human resources typically fall in this category.

Your company can do its part by providing employees with the best remote communication tools. Ask your Information Technology (IT) department if employees can bring laptops and work from home. If not, see if software can be installed on a personal computer.

In addition, management should hold less in-person meetings and instead organise conference calls and meetings via video/tele conferencing. If an in-person meeting is absolutely necessary, consider holding it in open spaces that allow for air circulation.

what if a worker gets sick?

You need to have a plan in place in the event that an employee gets sick. For starters, the infected individual needs to be identified and isolated as soon as possible.

The next step is making sure the employee seeks treatment and is tested for coronavirus. The results of a coronavirus test can take a few days. Your company cannot afford to sit and wait for the results before taking action.

You should immediately require employees that interacted with the infected person to self-monitor for signs and symptoms for a minimum of 14 days or until the test results come back clear if not yet medically cleared. It is important to remember than symptoms may not start to show for five days or longer.

In addition, you will have to take added steps to clean and sanitise the workplace after an infection. When all the employees are out of the building, bring in a professional cleaning company to sterilise the workplace environment.

Make certain that they clean down all surfaces with hospital grade disinfecting cleaning products. These products should include bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or rubbing alcohol. The cleaning company should clean all doorknobs, handrails, desks, and tables.

a recap of coronavirus preparation for retail workers

This is a dangerous time for the global population. Individuals are getting infected and businesses are struggling to stay afloat with shrinking demand.

It is imperative that your business prepares the workplace and employees during the coronavirus pandemic.

Browse our claims management services, or contact us today to find out how we can help you during this challenging time.

Disclaimer: The advice and guidelines recommended in this article may change in the future as more and new information becomes available.

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