An employee has developed Covid-19 symptoms, what should you do?
Firstly, it is worth noting that currently, most Coronavirus infections appear to be occurring as a result of social interactions rather than in the workplace.
As a responsible employer you will already have a risk assessment in place that sets out the steps to be taken to reduce the risk of infection from Covid-19. This will include the requirement that employees with symptoms of the illness self-isolate and obtain a test.
If the symptoms develop whilst at work, the employee should be sent home (ideally in their own vehicle) to self-isolate and to contact NHS for a test. Their workstation and any surfaces touched by them should be cleaned using standard cleaning products such as detergents and bleach.
If the worker has a test that proves positive, they will be required to self-isolate for ten days and to provide the contact details of those persons they have been in close recent contact with. This will not automatically be all their co-workers; instead, a Close Contact is someone who:
- has had face-to-face contact (within one metre), including:
- being coughed on
- having skin-to-skin physical contact, or
- contact within one metre for one minute
- has been within 2 metres of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes
- has travelled in a small vehicle.
(It is worth noting that an interaction between 2 people through a Perspex, or equivalent, screen would not be considered sufficient contact, provided that there has been no other contact such as any of those indicated above.)
If a co-worker or customer has been in close contact with the sick worker they will be instructed to self-isolate for 14 days from their last contact and you should review your working practices to prevent this occurring again.
Co-workers are therefore likely to be concerned if a colleague becomes unwell and it is important therefore to review the findings of your risk assessment and to share the findings, so that they are re-assured that your control measures continue to be sufficient.