Miss Nne Ezeribe, a Safety Specialist, says there is need for employers to put in place safety measures at workplaces to guard employees from either contracting or transmitting the COVID-19.
Ezeribe made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Wednesday.
She spoke on how to achieve safety and good health at workplaces in view of people gradually returning to work after the COVID-19 lockdown in some Nigerian states.
“Already, the International Labour Organisation raises awareness on the adoption of safe practices in workplaces and the role that Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) services play. So employers need to put in measures in line with that.
“Concerning COVID-19, it is imperative for employers to protect workers against the pandemic because if an employee has the disease, it will spread to others; even to the executives and definitely will affect business and productivity.
“While there is no one-stop way to address this because jobs are different with their diverse peculiarities, employers should bear this in mind and put in place safety measures to address the different jobs,’’ she said.
Ezeribe advised employers and business owners to go with the World Health Organisation’s guideline on “Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19’’ and also adhere to Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Federal Ministry of Health instructions.
According to her, for instance, the World Health Organisation mandates workplaces to be clean and hygienic.
“Surfaces, including desks and tables and objects like the telephones, keyboards need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly because contamination on surfaces touched by employees and customers is one of the main ways COVID-19 spreads.
“Regular and thorough hand washing by employees, contractors and customers must be promoted. Hence, the need for wash hand points with clean water and soap as well as hand sanitisers to be at major places around the workplace.
“Combine this with other communication measures such as offering guidance from occupational health and safety officers, briefings at meetings and information on the intranet to promote hand washing.
“ Promoting good respiratory hygiene in the workplace by ensuring that face masks are worn and paper tissues are available at workplaces for those who develop runny nose or cough at work.
“There should also be closed bins for the disposal of same. Good respiratory hygiene prevents the spread of COVID-19,’’ she said.
According to her, while social distancing is important in preventing the spread of COVID-19, it may be difficult to achieve in workplaces but employers must think out of the box to achieve that.
“Employers must think of how people are going to start sitting in the office or whether they should work from home or they should work shifts.
“This is the same as how to handle clients or customers.
“They should also think of how to organise meetings, be it physical or virtual.
“For production lines and factories, the management must also device ways to prevent clustering and crowding.
“All of these and more must be deliberated on as we all enter the next phase because the success of achieving workplace safety and hygiene will go a long way in contributing to how quick COVID-19 will be curbed,’’ she advised.
Ezeribe said that communication had critical role to play and as such, management of organisations must adequately educate the employees across the rung on COVID-19 and the need for good respiratory and personal hygiene.
“In addition, there should be health insurance for staff.
“Face or nose masks must be distributed to members of staff. The need for good dietary habits must be stressed.
“These and more should be taken into consideration to protect the safety and health of employees,’’ she said.