Perhaps at no other time in recent history has the need for effective workplace health and wellness measures been more pronounced. For one thing, other viruses like SARS were less easily transmitted compared to the coronavirus; as early as January this year, worldwide coronavirus cases had already surpassed that of the 2003 SARS outbreak.
Only a week ago, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, and experts on communicable disease have predicted a gradual worsening of the current situation in the coming months.
Despite the fact that most COVID-19 cases worldwide are mild, the possible threat to population health cannot be understated, particularly for vulnerable groups like the elderly. Though very little is known about the virus itself, one of its most alarming characteristics is the difficulty of detecting and containing it.
As workplaces the world over brace for impact, it is critical that employers here in Singapore ensure make it their top priority to implement sufficient precautionary health and wellness measures in protecting employees from the coronavirus.
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Regardless of the fact that COVID-19 is transmitted primarily through human interaction, the fact remains that coming into contact with infected surfaces can pass the virus along as well. What’s more, considering the fact that most people spend at least eight hours a day sitting at their desks, the importance of disinfecting, cleaning and organising workspaces cannot be understated.
It goes without saying that we should all be more diligent with personal hygiene practices like hand-washing. Still, employers have a responsibility to lead by example.
As various countries in Europe and Asia embark on lockdowns, it’s critical that employers discourage their workers from all non-essential travel in the immediate future. Disseminating information on MOM guidelines on travel during the coronavirus pandemic is of particular importance in this regard.
Practicing good social responsibility is an indispensable element of combatting the spread of viral infection in workforces and society at large. It’s no secret, however, that Singapore’s workaholic culture has made coming to work despite being sick an acceptable social norm.
Generally speaking, before the coronavirus outbreak, employees who come to work despite being sick are perceived as dedicated, diligent, or hardworking. Indeed, according to the Ministry of Health, around 20% of the 160 confirmed cases in Singapore continued to report to work even though they were ill.
Employers should therefore take it upon themselves to spearhead attitude shifts on coming to work sick.