As India enters Unlock 1.0, there appears a glimmer of normalcy with phased openings of workplaces and establishments.
As we ease back into life and work, with the cautious acceptance of our coexistence with coronavirus, our government and employers are expected to take additional precautions to safeguard our workspaces and health. Yet, the onus also lies on each of us to stay vigilant and cautious.
To ensure employee safety, the government has set some directives for workplace safety. They have stated that staggered work/business hours shall be followed in offices. Workplaces will also have to provide provisions for thermal scanners, hand wash and sanitizers at all entry and exit points. They have asked for sanitization of the entire workplace, common places and all points that come into human contact alongside ensuring social distancing between two employees to name a few.
Despite these precautionary measures, each one of us needs to be vigilant and take responsibility for our own well-being. Hence, it is important to create a ‘back to work office kit' that will help you remain safe and leave the workspace hygienic for others as well.
Angad Ahluwalia, Senior Manager, Corporate Communication, Bioplus Healthcare, makers of WHO recommended formula for surface and hand sanitizer, SterloMax says: "It is imperative to keep an office kit ready before you head out and go back to work. These simple measures keep you and others around you safe. The most important aspect, of course, will be a desktop and a to-go sanitizer. But ensure that you also have other protective equipment such as gloves, mask, wipes as well."
There are plenty of options available in the market that claim to keep you safe. One needs to be mindful that not all products meet the mandated quality standards. Products need to be manufactured under valid licenses, be tested and certified.
Here are some essentials that you should have in your back to work kit:
Alcohol-based sanitizer: It is imperative that the sanitizer contains either 75 percent Isopropyl Alcohol or 80 percent Ethanol for effectively killing germs like Covid-19. This hand rub formula for sanitizers was published by WHO in March 2020. If you are unable to find any of the above formulations, ensure that there is at least 60 percent alcohol in your sanitizer. Sanitizers need to be manufactured under a government issued drug license.
Surface disinfectant: Despite the office doing a deep cleaning of the office space, carry a surface disinfectant to wipe your desk. Dilute the 75 percent alcohol-based sanitizer with water in 1:1, ratio and wipe your stationary, electronics and other surfaces such as railings, door knobs, toilets, and car door handles. Ensure that you use a surface disinfectant manufactured under Government issued Drug License and tested by Gas Chromatography as per Indian Pharmacopoeia.
Masks: Wear a mask at all times when you leave home. The masks that offer good protection are the 8210, 9210 and N95 masks, but they may be tough to find in this scenario. In such a case, use a cotton mask. Before wearing the mask, clean your hands with a sanitizer or soap and then put it on. Try looking for a mask that has NIOSH written on it as that would be certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Gloves: Gloves become a subconscious reminder to not touch one's face. Use gloves that are either made from nitrite, because they resist chemicals. However, if those aren't available, you can also use latex or rubber. Try using gloves that reach your wrists as you may rest your hands on a table while typing or writing. If these are hard to find, a regular pair of plastic gloves will also work.
Cutlery and Stationery: It is advisable for employees to carry their own cutlery, like plates, spoon and coffee mugs. Do not borrow or lend your Stationery to anyone else. Try keeping them in a closed box or inside a drawer so they don't come in contact with contaminated surfaces. But, if you have to lend your stationary, please sanitize them before and after uses.
Sanitizing Wipes: Always carry a packet of sanitizing wipes with you. Use them to access high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, switches, taps, faucets etc.
Aarogya Setu App: Download the Aarogya Setu app will help in determining if you are coming close to someone who is infected. This will ensure safety for you as well as your co-workers
(Puja Gupta can be contacted at email@example.com)