Roughly 130,000 healthcare workers in the US have so far been diagnosed with Covid-19, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. Despite that, many healthcare professionals feel their workplaces haven’t implemented adequate safety measures. Only one in four nurses, for example, agree that they’ve been given a safe workplace during the pandemic. Maintaining a clean workspace, encouraging good hygiene, and preventing fatigue are some of the best ways to protect the health and safety of healthcare workers.
Covid-19 can live on common surfaces (including, glass, metal and plastic) for as long as nine days. That means infection is possible simply by contact with contaminated surfaces in addition to person-to-person contact. Regular and thorough workplace cleaning is therefore essential to kill the virus and stop it from spreading. Particular attention should be paid to high-touch surfaces and objects, including, desks, keyboards, door knobs and light switches. Professional cleaning services can ensure cleaning is done effectively. Professional cleaners use a two-step cleaning and disinfecting process to destroy Covid-19 on surfaces. Cleaning is firstly performed with soap and water before following up with disinfecting to kill lingering germs.
The CDC recommends frequent hand-washing — especially after every meeting with clients or patients (although physical contact should be avoided as much as possible). Washing hands with soap and water is more effective than hand sanitizer. Some hand sanitizers don’t even contain high enough amounts of ethyl alcohol to be effective, and even contain harmful ingredients like methanol, so be careful which products you use. Workers should be given N95 face masks — they’re more effective than standard surgical masks.
Working more shifts, longer hours or overnight increases fatigue among healthcare workers. Exhaustion can weaken the immune system and leave workers vulnerable to illness. Monitor symptoms of fatigue (like yawning and difficulty concentrating) in yourself and others, and work to avoid fatigue-related mistakes or injuries. For example, the Epworth Sleepiness Scale is a simple questionnaire that allows workers to assess their daytime sleepiness. If workers are too tired to work safely, steps should be implemented to relieve them from their work. Important tasks should be assigned to workers starting their shifts, and repetitive or taxing tasks should be rotated among workers.
The protection of healthcare workers should be a priority. A clean work environment, encouraging good hygiene, and preventing fatigue are the most effective ways to keep workers safe during this challenging time.