This week is perfect to start this column since it marks the end of a 14-day period of strict home isolation for some of us who were close contacts of coronavirus-infected coworkers.

We’ve been back to work since June 28, and those who were confined in city-run isolation facilities have been released, but they’ll have to wait another seven days before returning to their beats and assignments.

When one of our coworkers’ COVID-19 antigen test came back positive in the second week of June, it was awful news for all of us. Parang ayaw mo maniwala noong una, it seemed inconceivable given how cautious we were at work about keeping the virus away.

But this enemy is invisible, and dealing with what can’t be seen is tough.

When a person just has the flu, a cough, and a stuffy nose, with no other symptoms, it’s easy to dismiss these as the signs of an unpleasant but short-term sickness that will go away after the immune system fights it off.

Consider this: they are not novel; they happen every year and follow a predictable pattern. Hindi ba nga ang tawag seasonal flu? Coronavirus, on the other hand, appeared out of nowhere, and the unfamiliarity, coupled with the ambiguity, makes it an enigma that is difficult to explain.

So, maiintindihan mo rin kapag ang isang empleyado inisip na kung may sinat, ubo, at sipon siya, basta kaya niya ang katawan niya, papasok siya at magtatrabaho.

Aba, eh, masipag!

Alam niya na may COVID-19 at ang mga inisyal na sintomas nito ay kaparehas na ng sa flu, pero mahirap niyang maiisip na mahahawaan siya lalo na’t sa tingin niya ay maingat siya dahil halos maligo na ng alcohol at laging may face mask.

Kung nakakalimutan niya ito or nawawala sa isip niya, mayroong dapat magpaalala at gumabay sa kanya para hindi siya makaapekto sa ibang kasamahang empleyado at sa negosyo.

COVID-19 is transmitted mainly via droplets in the air or contact with infected surfaces. Exposure may happen at work, on the way to and from work, while traveling to work, during job-related travel to an area with local community transmission, and on the way home.

Sa madaling sabi, oo naman, sure na! Coronavirus can be transmitted at the workplace. Workplaces, as stressed by local Incident Management Team (IMT) commander Dr. Dean Palanca, are where outbreaks occur as well.

Sana alam niyo na, pero uulitin ko na rin. Sabi ng mga eksperto, the probability of getting within one meter of others, having regular physical contact with individuals who may be infected with the virus, and coming into touch with contaminated surfaces and items all contribute to the risk of coronavirus exposure in the workplace.

Parang walang lusot.

Ang sakit sa bangs, lalo na’t wala kang bangs, at hindi ka naman bagayan.

May safety officer ba ang negosyo mo? How do you start assessing your workplace’s risk exposure and developing preventive measures? Kung maliit ka lang na negosyo, tapos busy ka pa, iisipin mo pa ba ito?

‘Yong empleyado mo na papasok pa kahit may lagnat, ubo, at sipon na, paano mo paaalalahanan na kapag kombinasyon na ang sintomas ay huwag nang pumasok? Na huwag siyang mag-alala dahil may babalikan naman siyang trabaho.

Ang sagot d’yan ay simple, ang magkaroon ka ng safety officer kahit ang empleyado mo ay, let’s say mga nasa 7-10. Dapat may taga bantay na masigasig.

Puwera biro.

Ganito lang daw ‘yan, even if you have a small number of employees, you should still appoint a safety officer since COVID-19 is already a workplace hazard. The objective of this person is to assist with the implementation of COVID-19 preventive policies and procedures.

It is necessary to adapt in order to survive this pandemic. Small business owners must have a strategy in place for COVID-19 effects, which may disrupt operations as well as harm employees’ health and safety. If they do not know what to do, the safety officer can help evaluate leave arrangements, work-from-home policies, and the appropriate support to provide in the event that an employee gets ill.

If the number of employees exceeds what one person can handle, they may be split into teams and sent to work on predetermined schedules.

Kung tingin mo wala kang makita na puwede gumawa nito, then you as the owner should be capable of fulfilling this role. Talk to your workers, let them know about the changes you’re planning, and seek their feedback.

Kung may sintomas na’t lahat, huwag mo na piliting papasukin kasi may delivery o may trabaho na kailangang matapos. Kapag ganito ka, ang lupit mo din.

Get your employee tested as quickly as possible to see whether he or she has the virus. Send close contacts home if it turns out that the employee’s case is positive, urge them to isolate themselves from family members, and self-screen for symptoms.

The next step is to report the situation to the city IMT for assistance in determining if your employee requires facility isolation. Don’t keep this hidden because you’re scared of having to temporarily halt operations as workers who are close contacts are required to undergo a two-week quarantine.

Appointing a qualified person to serve as a safety officer, whether the owner, an employee or an outsider, is critical. Don’t be difficult; just do the right thing. There’s no time to waste if you want to keep your business going and prevent losing even more money.

If a worker tests positive for COVID-19, the safety officer may advise the company owner on how to handle the situation, as ours did upon realizing we had cases to deal with.

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has been with Palawan News since January 2019. She is its managing editor, overseeing and coordinating day-to-day editorial activities. Her writing interests are politics and governance, health, defense, investigative journalism, civic journalism, and the environment.