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Healthy Kingsport: Social distancing in the workplace

AIESHA BANKS • Jun 4, 2020 at 10:30 PM

As health officials work to slow the spread of COVID-19, they’ve asked Americans to do one crucial thing: practice social distancing. Many people in the U.S. — including doctors, nurses, bus drivers and grocery clerks — have not stopped working throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Among the millions of others who have been furloughed or teleworking for a month or more, some are now being asked to return to work.

What can you do to help while social distancing in the workplace?

Whenever possible, employers should ensure that workers can maintain a 6-foot distance from one another, which could mean moving furniture or desks to separate workstations, operating at a reduced capacity, or staggering shifts to decrease the number of people who are in the workplace at one time.

Vanessa Bennett of the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, said, “During the COVID-19 pandemic, your Kingsport Chamber staff was able to respond quickly and allow our staff to work from home. As we transition back to the office, we are taking precautions to keep everyone safe. We’re proud of the early action we took to protect the health of our employees and our community. This will remain our top priority as we work through the unknowns of the coming months.”

The Kingsport Chamber is taking all precautions to keep its employees safe:

• Placing signs around the office to remind employees and visitors about social distancing, frequent handwashing, properly covering coughs and sneezes, and refraining from touching the face.

• Having cleaning products such as gloves, wipes and sanitizers widely accessible for employees’ use.

• Providing for each employee a face mask, which is required to be worn in common areas.

• Taking the temperature (touch-free) of all employees before they can enter and start their work day.

How can I stay healthy in the work place?

• Follow the CDC’s recommendations for using a face mask.

• Avoid close contact with people while at work.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

• Use touch-free solutions when necessary.

Rules for washing hands

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (the length of the “Happy Birthday” song), especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Remember the five steps to washing your hands.

1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.

2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Remember the “Happy Birthday” song.

4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Rules for using hand sanitizer

Use hand sanitizer only when you can’t use soap and water. Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. However, sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs and may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.

1. Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand.

2. Rub your hands together.

3. Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds. Again, remember the “Happy Birthday” song.

Healthy Kingsport is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a community that actively embraces healthy living by promoting wellness, enhancing infrastructure, and influencing policy.

Aiesha Banks is the executive director of Healthy Kingsport. She can be reached at abanks@healthykingsport.org.

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