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Nonprofits Must Take Necessary Precautions When Dealing with Sickness in the Workplace

Posted Mar 05, 2020 11:30 AM
This article provides advice for nonprofits still operating programs and links to coronavirus resources for King County/Washington.

We recognize that many organizations work with vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, people already experiencing other kinds of health conditions, and people without adequate access to reliable healthcare services, and thus, are not able to move their staff entirely to remote working. If you are still operating some programming from your program sites, the procedures below will help you keep people safe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging businesses to take additional precautions in response to growing concerns about the spread of COVID-19. Current predictions indicate that this may soon be a pandemic, though the current risk of contracting the disease in the greater Seattle area is low – despite several confirmed cases that have happened already. Public health agencies have also reported that this flu season is affecting more people in greater Seattle than is typical, which adds to the urgency of this conversation.

We recommend that you communicate with your staff right away your internal policies and procedures with regards to telecommuting, taking time off to recover from illness, and what to do if you have no choice but to come into the office.

If any of your staff chooses to come into the office, please take necessary precautions like encouraging thorough hand washing practices, covering your mouth when you cough, providing hand sanitizers (if local stores aren’t out of it yet!), and wiping down commonly touched objects like door handles, touch screens, and communal office supplies (staplers, paper trimmers, printers, etc.).

Preventing the Spread of Germs

  1. Wash your hands regularly with warm water and soap. This is a good practice all the time, especially for staff who are touching or preparing food. It's recommended that you wash your hands for 20-30 seconds.
  2. Use hand sanitizer. Place bottles in common areas like the kitchen, reception area, and entrances/exits.
  3. Follow proper coughing and sneezing etiquette. Use tissues or your elbow to cover your cough or sneeze and follow up by, you guessed it, washing your hands.
  4. Clean common surfaces. On a daily basis, clean doorknobs, elevator buttons, and kitchen handles. Make disposable wipes available if possible. Regular wipe-downs of personal cell phones and laptops are encouraged.
  5. Stay home if you are ill. Seriously!

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