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Basic Steps for Dealing with a Virus Outbreak

After the Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, spread into other countries, many employers began taking precautions to avoid an outbreak in their workplaces.

The Novel Coronavirus (also called COVID-19) is an upper-respiratory disease that presents itself as a fever with symptoms of a respiratory illness. The incubation period appears to be between one to 14 days — a period when carriers can be contagious.

While Coronavirus or similar outbreaks may not reach your area, it’s prudent to have policies in place in case the virus threatens the health of your employees:

• Instill confidence by announcing that the situation is being monitored. Alert employees impacted by a virus outbreak, but do not feel you must be the expert about the disease. To avoid misinformation, it’s best to direct them to information provided by government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

• Encourage all employees to use their paid sick leave and paid time off if they feel ill. Managers and supervisors should be trained to send employees home if they are sick.

• Consider temporarily suspending travel directly to an infected region. The Occupational Safety and Health Act allows employees to refuse to work when there is a reasonable belief there is risk of imminent death or serious injury.

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