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Oh My Omicron!

​Our Health, Safety and Wellbeing Consultant Lee Powell​ gives an overview of what advice she is giving clients with regards to preventing Omicron in their work places.

As we approach our third year of the pandemic life at work just seems to be getting more and more complicated.

Omicron has changed the game for workplaces (again), with many companies asking for advice with how to prepare.

In the news on recently Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins spoke with Mike Hosking about Covid modelling "It's a little bit like the weather forecast. Some nights they say it's going to rain tomorrow, and it turns out being a nice sunny day,". This came about because some modelling experts had predicted over 50,000 cases by Waitangi Day.

This struck me as true because when clients ask me for advice on how to prepare, I have to look at worst case scenario- with a focus on keeping workers safe and ensuring that the company still has the ability to produce their products or provide their services if, or when (more than likely ‘when’) Omicron cases arise in their workplaces.

While safety is a priority for me (and my clients) when providing companies with advice I believe that safety and operations are hand in hand. The goal is to keep people safe and at work so that normal operations can continue.

The advice I have given to date:

1. Start separating your work areas now, BEFORE case numbers are high in your region and you have a positive case at work. This could mean physically shutting off departments, having those who can work from home do so, staggering breaks, separating employees to morning and afternoon shifts (following Employment Law processes), if you don’t already have shifts. If you do shift work, then decrease the contact between shifts  and restricting visitors and contractors onsite.

2. If masks are worn, ensure the masks are disposable high-filtration face masks or particulate respirators as they offer the highest level of protection, when used correctly. For more information https://covid19.govt.nz/prepare-and-stay-safe/keep-up-healthy-habits/wear-a-face-mask/types-of-face-masks/#disposable-p2-n95-particulate-respirators

3. Increase hygiene measures: hand washing, hand sanitising upon arrival to work, when moving around your workplace, before and after meal breaks, before putting on and taking off masks.

4. Encourage workers to stay home and be tested if they are sick- the most common early symptoms are a scratchy throat and runny nose. I know that this is hard for businesses- staff absence will increase.

5. Communicate with your workers- tell them how you are preparing and what your expectations are. So much is unknown, and this will help provide them with some comfort about what is to come.

6. Keep an eye on access to RAT tests, if and when they become available for non critical workplaces this may be a way to reduce Omicron getting into your workplace.


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