Addressing the Coronavirus in Chinese Factories

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This article is specifically for Chinese factories currently dealing with the Coronavirus, factories in other countries should refer to our other post on Coronavirus. 

With the recent outbreak of Coronavirus, novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), we are sure you and your staff are on high alert.  If your company has resumed work, it is important to support workers and ensure a healthy and safe working environment in order to maintain production levels throughout this crisis. If your factory is still in temporary shutdown, it is critical to stay in touch with your workers and prepared to minimize health risks before workers’ return.

Workers are certainly stressed and worried about contagion during this crisis.  Having a plan, communicating and responding effectively is critical in helping reduce risks and getting production back on track.

Below we discuss five steps you should take while communities are still on high alert: Prevent, Prepare, Inform, Educate and Listen

Listen to a webinar by our partners Workplace Options and ISOS: “Building Psychological Immunity During the Coronavirus Outbreak." To listen to the recording click the links below:

PREVENT

The best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is to isolate those who are infected.

  • Institute and communicate clear policies about people with the flu or flu like symptoms
  • If you have workers from Hubei province: 
    • You should plan for extended absenteeism and follow the government’s notice on travel restrictions.
    • Communicate clearly and often with workers from Hubei or who may have been exposed.
    • If possible, provide a separate working environment for workers from Hubei for at least two weeks to ensure workers are not contagious
  • If a worker has the virus or similar symptoms, or has been in direct contact with someone who has symptoms of the virus they should be denied access to work and sent home for isolation and advised to see a doctor
  • Ensure that all work travel follows government travel advice
  • If workers are still returning from Chinese New Year, have a plan to identify workers who may have had contact with someone who has the symptoms of the virus.
    • Identify people who may be at risk and ensure they seek medical care and stay home and away from work while they are sick.
    • Use WOVO surveys to gather information in advance            

PREPARE

Preparation is key to avoiding the spread of the virus. With large populations of people in one place, extra precautions may need to be taken to ensure a healthy and safe working environment. Consider enacting the following measures:

  • Establish direct contact with local authorities for support in case of emergency
  • Provide flu-prevention supplies in your workplace, such as anti-bacteria soap, hand sanitizer, tissues, trash baskets, and facemasks
  • If you have an on-site clinic, make sure your health professionals have the necessary resources and are up to date on government care protocol for workplace
  • Prepare for absences.
    • Create a plan for checking and monitoring workers who are absence because of the flu. Use WOVO surveys to reach out to them and collect data.
  • Identify a place that can be used to quarantine sick workers.
  • Consider increasing the space between workers on the line. Health experts say that creating 1 meter of distance between workers can decrease the spread of the flu.
  • Consider doing a deep clean of the workplace. Make sure to use anti-bacteria soap to kill germs.
  • Avoid work events
  • Create a plan of communication if someone is identified and ensure that local authorities are alerted
  • Click here to find a complete guidance on combating virus from the Chinese government. Consider incorporating them in your daily practices

INFORM

Workers, especially those who have not yet returned to work, may be extremely nervous about how the coronavirus will impact their health and job. Make sure to continuously communicate with workers on what you are doing to keep them safe.  Increased communication will also help ensure more workers return to work following the extended holiday.

  • Use WOVO newsletters to communicate to workers your plan and what you are doing to address the current outbreak.
  • Remind workers, using WOVO, of standard health guidelines for keeping workers healthy, including not coming to work when they are sick, washing their hands and wearing masks
  • If workers are away from work, don’t forget that you can still connect with them using WOVO. Reach out and keep them updated on new developments, like when your facility will reopen and transportation.
  • Use Broadcast to get the information out quickly. For example:
    • An emergency happens and an urgent action needs to be taken
    • A new development of the pandemic that everyone needs to know immediately
    • A new action/policy adopted by government or the company that employees need to be informed about on a timely manner. For example, change of working hours, leave policies or HSE protocols

EDUCATE

Not being informed or receiving outdated information during a pandemic increases workers’ uncertainty and stress. It is important to keep them stay informed about the facts and the actions the company has taken. The information management passes onto workers should be updated, accurate and concise. Remember, you are not the expert of the pandemic. Check reliable sources like the World Health Organization or China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (visit daily for updates and information) and use links to help workers identify fact verses fiction.

  • Promote the daily practice of everyday preventive actions at all times, like washing hands and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
  • Use the WOVO Newsletter on a specific subject about the pandemic:

LISTEN

Pandemics are scary and make many people anxious. If your company is put on a temporary shutdown, your employees may need additional support and assurance in order to stay calm and retained. If your company resumes production amid speculation of an outbreak, your employees may be more prone to emotional turbulence, stress and conflicts. Use WOVO to encourage them to speak up, address their concerns and provide resources with psychological support:

  • Send out broadcast messages to let workers know that management is listening and here to help
  • Use Connect to address to workers’ questions and requests or to point them to the correct authorities
  • Ensure cases with Emergency Trigger Words get addressed with priority
  • Conduct Survey to quickly get updates about their situations, whereabouts and concerns
  • Send out a Newsletter or update My Company to list tips on how to cope with stress
  • Use data from Reporting to take targeted preventative or remedial actions

If you need templates for any of the newsletters, broadcasts or surveys suggested above reach out to your client adviser.

This is a time that requires understanding, collaboration and trust among everyone at the company. The Labor Solutions team is here to help. If you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to share them with us, either through your Client Advisor or via the HelpDesk button on your WOVO Dashboard.