Listed below are important guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus epidemic in workplaces. There is also important information on how to deal with coronavirus infection in the workplace.
Organisation of work and cleaning of shared facilities
Restrictions based on the Emergency Powers Act as announced by the Government prohibit public meetings of more than ten people. The restrictions do not apply to the operations of workplaces or construction sites. However, if possible, a effort should be made to limit any unnecessary physical contact during work.
- Avoid organising site meetings, especially site visits.
- No more than a few persons should be using the staff facilities during any part of the working day.
- By staggering the start and end times of the work, as well as food and coffee breaks, it is possible to reduce the number of persons spending time in shared facilities à groups of ten or more should not be allowed to be formed.
Focus on a high level of cleanliness and make it possible for the employees to maintain adequate hand hygiene.
- Cleaning and disinfection of both office and staff facilities should be significantly increased.
- Have hand sanitiser available in all facilities, as well as enough soap and disposable paper towels available next to hand-washing sinks.
Instructions for both management and employees
Don’t go to work sick
If you’re sick, don’t go to work. If your symptoms are mild, stay at home during the sickness. Stay home if your family member has been diagnosed with coronavirus or if you have been in close contact with another person with coronavirus disease. If your family member has symptoms suggestive of a corona or otherwise suspects you have been exposed to the virus, contact your employer and avoid social contacts.
If serious symptoms occur, call your health centre or emergency medical services immediately. Contact your occupational health care provider primarily by telephone or chat.
Symptoms of coronavirus
The symptoms of people with coronavirus have been fever, muscle pain, cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue. These symptoms may also be mild.
How the virus is transmitted
The new coronavirus is primarily transmitted as a droplet infection when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is possible that the virus is also transmitted through contact. Corona viruses do not survive in the air or on surfaces for days at varying temperatures. No infections transmitted by things being touched by a sick person have been detected.
Instructions for preventing the spread of the virus in the workplace
- Avoid shaking hands and other unnecessary physical contact.
- Stay at least one meter away from other people, especially if they are coughing or sneezing.
- Coughing and sneezing should be done into a sleeve or disposable tissue.
- Clean shared devices before using them.
- Keep hands clean:
- Wash your hands every time you come to work, and before eating, smoking, taking snuff, and leaving work.
- Wash the hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Disposable paper towels are the best method for drying the hands outside of the home, and at home, a personal hand towel should be used.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you have just washed your hands.
- Use alcoholic hand sanitiser if washing with water and liquid soap is not possible. When using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, take the amount you need at a time to rub it all over your hands.
According to guidelines issued by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, respiratory protection is not recommended for general use. The respirators required during work are used normally.
What else can I do to prevent infection?
- Use public transport outside peak times, if possible.
- Do not make business trips that are not necessary.
- The Emergency Powers Act prohibits travelling abroad.
- It is also recommended to avoid travelling in Finland.
- If you return to Finland from abroad, come to an agreement with your employer on when to return to work and how long you should stay at home before it. The recommendation is to stay away from work for two weeks.
- Follow also any other instructions issued by the authorities.
Absence from work due to flu symptoms
During the state of emergency, even normal flu symptoms mean that you should stay away from work. According to instructions issued by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, after you have had the flu, you must stay away from your workplace for at least one day after your symptoms have gone away.
If serious symptoms occur, contact your health centre immediately. According to the recommendation, you should contact your health care centre primarily by telephone.
Coronavirus infection at the workplace
When a person has been diagnosed with coronavirus, the person’s own hospital district maps out all those the person has had close contact with to find out who else might have become infected as early as possible. (The scope of the investigation depends on the epidemiological situation and resources of the area.) Close contact refers to being face-to-face with or in the same room as an infected person for more than 15 minutes. The risk of infection is low in the case of any other type of contact.
Close contact includes:
- persons living in and visiting the same household
- persons who have spent time in the same workspace, staff facilities, or break rooms as someone infected
- persons belonging to the same travel group as someone infected
- nursing staff who have treated an infected person and laboratory staff handling COVID-19 samples
Those who have been in close contact with an infected person are contacted and informed of their possible infection, as well as given home care instructions. It is not necessary to test people with mild symptoms, but those with severe symptoms are instructed to seek treatment.
- Persons who have been in close contact with someone infected are advised to avoid social contacts and travel and to monitor the development of symptoms for 10 days after the last exposure.
- Based on the Communicable Diseases Act (1227/2016), a physician in charge of infectious diseases in a municipality or hospital district may order a person who has been in close contact with someone infected to be quarantined if active monitoring of their state of health cannot be performed reliably by other measures.
- Risk groups, or, persons with primary diseases and the elderly, are given consideration in the organisation of home quarantine.
- The same information in Finnish
- Follow public information to keep up to date on the regulations and recommendations that apply to you: https://thl.fi/en/web/infectious-diseases/what-s-new/coronavirus-covid-19-latest-updates
- The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s instructions on hand washing and coughing: https://thl.fi/en/web/infectious-diseases/information-materials