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Your Covid-19 questions answered

How can I make sure I am safe from Covid-19 at work?

05 January 2022 - 08:00
It is important to adhere to Covid-19 health and safety guidelines while at work.
It is important to adhere to Covid-19 health and safety guidelines while at work.
Image: 123RF/kadettmann

As many return to work this week, experts have cautioned people to adhere to Covid-19 health and safety protocols.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said Covid-19 can spread at the workplace and on the way to work, so it is important to be vigilant.

“Covid-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets or contact with contaminated surfaces. Exposure can occur at the workplace, while travelling to work, during work-related travel to an area with local community transmission and on the way to and from the workplace.

“The risk of exposure to Covid-19 in the workplace depends on the likelihood of coming within 1m of others, in having frequent physical contact with people who may be infected with Covid-19 and through contact with contaminated surfaces and objects.”

The WHO suggests managers, with the support of an occupational health and safety adviser, look at the risks of exposure and put measures in place to try prevent the spread of infections.

“This should be done for each specific work setting and each job,” it said.

Workers without frequent, close contact with the public and those who have minimal occupational contact with the public and other co-workers have a low exposure risk.

“Examples of such jobs may include remote workers ( working from home), office workers without frequent close contact with others and workers providing teleservices.”

Jobs or tasks with close and frequent contact with the public or others pose a medium exposure risk.

“This risk level may apply to workers who have frequent and close contact with people in high population density work environments (for example, food markets, bus stations, public transport and other work activities where physical distancing of at least 1m may be difficult to observe), or tasks that require close and frequent contact between co-workers.

“This may also include frequent contact with people returning from areas with community transmission. Examples of such jobs may include frontline workers in retail, home deliveries, accommodation, construction, police and security, public transport and water and sanitation.”

Jobs or tasks with close contact with people who may be more likely to have Covid-19, as well as contact with objects and surfaces possibly contaminated with the coronavirus, are high exposure risk.

“Examples include transporting people known or suspected to have Covid-19 without separation between the driver and the passenger, providing domestic services or home care for people with Covid-19, and having contact with the deceased who were known or suspected of having Covid-19 at the time of their death.

“Jobs that may fall under this category include domestic workers, social care workers, personal transport and home delivery providers and home repair technicians (plumbers, electricians) who provide services in the homes of people with Covid-19".  

The WHO said all people, regardless of their risk level, should practice frequent handwashing or sanitising, social distancing, wearing of masks, covering coughs, regular environmental cleaning and disinfection and limiting unnecessary travel. 


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