Businesses encouraged to keep Covid safe in the workplace
Local businesses in St Helens are being encouraged to stay Covid-19 safe as the virus continues to spread across the borough.
Article date: 22 July 2022
Up to 9th July, St Helens had 632 Covid-19 infections reported in a week, compared to 541 the previous week. This was the third highest infection rate in the Cheshire and Merseyside region where there were 8,327 infections reported, compared to 7,156 the previous week.
With general community Covid-19 testing not currently operating in the borough in line with Government guidance, both employers and staff in local businesses are being asked to be extra vigilant in helping to minimise the risk of outbreaks of the virus happening in local workplaces.
The general advice is to stay home and avoid contact with other people if you have symptoms of Covid-19 and either:
- you have a high temperature
- you do not feel well enough to go to work or do your normal activities
Take extra care to avoid close contact with anyone who is at higher risk of getting seriously ill from Covid-19. You can go back to your normal activities when you feel better or do not have a high temperature.
The Government's list of recognised Covid-19 symptoms has recently been expanded and now includes the following:
- Continuous cough
- Sore throat
- High temperature, fever or chills
- Loss of, of change in, your normal sense of taste or smell
- Shortness of breath
- Unexplained tiredness, lack of energy
- Muscle aches or pains that are not due to exercise
- Not wanting to eat or not feeling hungry
- Headache that is unusual or longer lasting than usual
- Sore throat, stuffy or runny nose
- Diarrhoea, feeling sick or being sick
Workers who experience any of these symptoms, should let their manager know and if possible, get a Covid-19 test.
Employers are also being encouraged to take steps to limit the potential for the virus to spread in the workplace. These include taking the following measures:
- Ensuring proper and consistent ventilation in all working areas for staff or clients. Employers/businesses should particularly look at poorly ventilated areas and ways to improve air flow in these working spaces such as opening windows if it is safe to do so.
- Making sure all work environment, surfaces and office equipment are regularly sanitised and cleaned.
- Ensuring that staff/clients are supported to maintain good hand hygiene using soap and water and if necessary, supply hand sanitiser points.
- Encouraging staff/clients where possible to take up their Covid vaccinations and booster jabs when they are eligible to receive them.
- Considering the use of face coverings in poorly ventilated or crowded areas.
Councillor Anthony Burns, St Helens Borough Council Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Culture and Heritage said: "The absence of formal Covid-19 testing in the community will undoubtedly mean that the virus may be passing undetected between people and the recent increase in positive cases would suggest that this may well be happening in the workplace.
"Therefore, we would ask both local employers and their staff to be extra vigilant during the next few weeks as we try to reduce the further spread of the virus in the borough. Whilst being aware that mild symptoms could be Covid-19 and taking sensible precautions, we would encourage all employers to ensure that work areas are regularly cleaned and sanitised to reduce the risk of transmission."
Ruth du Plessis, Director of Public Health at St Helens Borough Council, said: "The recent increase in Covid-19 cases in the borough would suggest that more residents may be either contracting the virus themselves or passing it to others without realising.
"Latest research findings show that a sore throat is now one of the most common early symptoms of Covid-19 which indicates that the way the virus first shows itself is constantly changing. The workplace is one area where close contact with others is frequent so we would ask both workers and their employers to be particularly aware of any signs that the virus may be transmitting between staff.
"If you feel unwell and experience any of the Covid-19 symptoms try and avoid coming into contact with others, particularly those who may be vulnerable or at increased risk of serious illness form the virus."
Ruth adds: "We would also encourage both staff and their employers to get their Covid vaccinations or boosters if they can. Having the vaccine does help to reduce the spread of Covid-19, reduce the risk of developing Long Covid and is very effective at reducing the risk of becoming seriously unwell."
Further details on booking a Covid vaccination or booster are here: Book or manage a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination - NHS (www.nhs.uk)