Peter du Toit

Jun 203 min read

Staying Safe at Work

There is so much information out there that it is easy to become overwhelmed and confused by it all. But by focusing on the basics and doing these really well, will dramatically reduce your risk of infection.

Because we are going to be in this situation long-term it’s crucial that the basics are practiced everyday. It needs to become a workplace ritual.

How the disease spreads

When we cough, sneeze or just talk, especially loudly, we release tiny droplets, most unseen to the human eye. Every person releases droplets, without exception, all day.

However, if a person is infected, these released droplets come with a virus payload, which if you breathe in, in sufficient quantities, will infect you.

If the infected droplets land on a surface, eg. counter top, door handle etc., they remain active on that surface for a time. If you pass by and touch any of these surfaces and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes you will become infected.

Understanding droplet size

The droplets that escape from us vary in size. Some are heavy and can only travel up to 2m before falling to the ground. Others which are slightly smaller, can stay airborne for about 10mins before falling to the ground and the smallest can remain in the air for many hours in a room without ventilation. All these droplet sizes can carry a virus payload.

(Picture Credit: Can a mask protect me? Putting home made masks in the hierarchy of controls)

(Here is the latest information on what we know about transmission as presented by the WHO on June 9th)

Staying Safe

In view of the above. Here are the proven basic safety measures you need to take to keep your workplace safe.

1. Ensure that anyone who is not feeling well does not enter the workplace.
2. To prevent any infected person - who may not know they are - from spreading the larger infected droplets simply have everyone wear a cloth mask that covers the nose and mouth. Remember masks are to protect others not the wearer.
3. Keep a safe distance of 1.5/2m from others. This way any heavy droplets escaping from an infected person will not reach you.
4. Make sure that rooms are well ventilated to ensure good air circulation. (Eg. keep windows open.)
5. Sanitize high-traffic surfaces and objects eg. counter tops, basin taps, door handles, light switches etc. This is to ensure any infected droplets on these surfaces are removed before anyone touches them.
6. Because surfaces and objects can be contaminated remember the golden rule, do not touch your face with unwashed hands. If you can’t remember if you washed your hands just do so again before touching your face.

So to summarize:

😷 Wear a mask around other people
🧍🏻↔️🧍🏻‍♂️Keep a distance of 1.5/2m from others
🌬 Keep rooms well ventilated
🧴Sanitize frequently used surfaces and objects
🧼 Don’t touch your face with unwashed hands

Easy right? Absolutely. But remember what is easy to do is also easy not to do.

Stay safe.

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