It has been almost two months since we started lockdown and Australia has done very well in flattening the curve: the numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths has dropped significantly across the country. Even though we have protected ourselves from being hit hard by Covid-19, the risk of infection still remains. If you are returning to work, take hygienic precautions to ensure your transitioning back into the office is an efficient exercise.
With that in mind, the government has just released a series of steps that outline our gradual return to life as we once knew it. It is a welcome message for all those businesses – large or small – that have gone through difficult times. However, reopening businesses will not allow us to remove all the restriction imposed during coronavirus. Not only do we have to observe social distancing and gatherings, we also have to keep hygiene practices much different from pre-coronavirus.
What happens now?
As we're all going back to work, we need to be mindful of what that will involve. Currently, according to the news, the government's first phase of relaxing coronavirus restrictions involves "the reopening of cafes, restaurants and shops with public gatherings of up to 10 people now being allowed." The first phase also indicates that working from home is still acceptable if the employer and employees prefer this to working from the office. Whilst not everyone will jump to be back in an office environment, we need to consider what that return might look like.
Given that coronavirus is a highly infectionious disease, it's very important for all of us to be vigilant as we start to make our way back to work. We also need to keep in mind that the future phases the government expects to roll out, will increase the number of public gatherings and the opportunity for travel both interstate as well as between Australia and New Zealand. Given the increased opportunity for people to be en masse – think of public transport - there is a potential risk for relapse. When it comes to coronavirus, managing the number of people out and about will be critical.
How do we protect ourselves from coronavirus at work?
Just because you will likely be returning to your office does not mean you should be giving up on basic hygiene or other forms of protection, like a face mask. It is still imperative to be taking the time to wash your hands thoroughly as often as you can to ensure that you are maintaining your protection against the risk of infection. Given the reports of increased reinfection and relapses that came out of countries like, China, and South Korea when their respective coronavirus bans were being lifted, it's important to remember that we need to be careful in our workplaces.
We need to maintain the same levels of self-protection we've had during this period to ensure that we are going to be looking after ourselves and those around us. This also means that we need to be maintaining a healthy distance between people. As much as many of us might be craving to be reconnected with our co-workers we also need to consider that physical distancing is incredibly important as we return to work.
Whilst some offices might not be able to offer that, due to their space and intimate design, as an employee you have the right to express that you would still like to work from home. It's important in considering your duty of care to yourself and to others. It is very well possible that large organisations will stagger their reintroduction to avoid the risk for the spreading and contracting the virus. While probably businesses will continue to promote some form of remote working from home to keep all staff safe.
What can protect us from Covid-19 at work?
We want to help you go back to work as soon as possible. For that, we would like to help you protect yourself and your workforce and inspire confidence. One of the more practical solutions for increasing your protection - and that of your staff - against coronavirus includes facemasks, alcohol wipes and hand sanitisers. Hand sanitisers are a very effective way to keep your hands clean and restrict the spread of germs.
Our preferred brand is the Nel Instant Hand Sanitiser. This antibacterial gel is manufactured in Australia and comes in a handy 1 Litre bottle, ideal for offices as they don't require water and don’t need to be replaced or replenished on a constant basis. The other important reason we recommend these sanitisers is that they contain 70% ethanol in their solution making them in line with the WHO and Australian Department of Health guidelines for ethanol-based hand rub formulation. This is essential as this will kill 99.99% of bacteria and other harmful pathogens and increase your protection. Solutions below 70% ethanol are not effective in removing bacteria, germs and viruses and will not prevent the spread of infections.
Additionally, the other product that we recommend in helping you during this period is face masks, particularly the Dr. Hoffmann's Bacteria and Asthma Protective Mask.
Wearing a mask will show that you care about your staff's and your customer's wellbeing.
Our masks are designed as P2 or N95 respiratory masks that have the capability of assisting in the protection against viral infections thanks to their unique antibacterial copper filters. Copper ions have a damaging effect on living organisms; it kills them within minutes. It has been proven that an infectious virus endures for days on metal or plastic, but desintegrates as soon as it comes in contact with a copper surface. In an article in the Smithsonian "Copper's virus-killing powers were known even to the ancients" from April 2020, the microbiology researcher Bill Keevil talks about the use of copper as an infection killing agent.
Also, unlike single-use disposable masks, the Bacteria and asthma protective masks are reusable and can be washed and reworn for up to 2 months. They come with 2 filters.
We realise our copper filter face masks are more costly but if you look at the cost per use, they turn out to be far more economical than the disposable surgical masks. With the two included filters, you can use them for 3 months, while the single-use ones have to be replaced constantly. After three months, you can just reorder the replacement filters. They come in a pack of 4, lasting for another 3 months. This face mask will reduce your environmental footprint significantly; just think how many paper masks are not ending up in landfill!
Our customers have been very positive about the comfortable fit without impression and their breathability.
It is essential for you - as a business owner - to ensure you are getting value for money without compromising on the quality of protection for your workforce and customers.
A return to regular work is fast approaching as our Federal Government is reviewing and relaxing restrictions as part of the coronavirus response. Much of what we have done in the past two months to protect ourselves in self-isolation, will still apply as we return to work.
It's up to us to remain diligent and disciplined to our self-care to ensure a safe and successful transition back to work with basic hygiene precautions to protect workplace health. Let us help you return to work safely!