Human Resource Management
The COVID-19 virus is 25,428,571 times smaller than the average human being, yet it crippled the world. As America returns to work Human Resource Managers will be faced with overseeing an inauspicious landscape that is unique to the twenty-first century.
The lockdown approach to stemming the spread of COVID-19 has bought the American public and our business community time to assess the vulnerability that our society encounters from a microorganism that measures 70 nanometers. Soon businesses will be tasked with reopening American society. How will companies keep their employees, customers, contractors, and vendors safe? This question will be at the forefront of corporate boardrooms across America. Drafting reasonable concise measures to address this question of health, wellness, and wellbeing will land squarely at the front door of Human Resource Management.
Everyone agrees that the best way to stay healthy is “Don’t Get Sick In The First Place.” Accomplishing that goal requires us to look back to go forward. Hygiene, the origin of which dates back to the Greek goddess of health, Hygeia, who happens to be the daughter of the god of Science/Medicine, Asclepius, “means conditions or practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease, especially through cleanliness.” The challenge HRM must contend with is how to achieve cleanliness without engineering new threats, exposing staff to additional health issues, or exasperating current health concerns. HRM must develop this strategy while enhancing the culture of the community they have strived to achieve.
In 1849 New York was crippled by a deadly cholera outbreak in-order to combat that outbreak and limit future outbreaks. New York began to install sewers five years later in 1855, 70 miles of sewer-pipe had been completed. By 1857 Scientists knew the decision to dump raw sewage into the waterways surrounding New York was a health hazard. Ultimately, New Yorkers would have to wait for another 80 years before sewage treatment plants would be built to stem the damage, and 171 years later, New Yorkers still struggle with correcting the mistakes of the past. Hopefully, as are government and businesses move towards reopening our communities, they will pay attention to the lessons of history and allow science to take a lead role in guiding those decisions. Science-based decisions will help prevent our legacy of missteps were the solution to one crisis produces pernicious consequences undermining the health and wellbeing of future generations.
One area that is precipitately developing into a devastating calamity is the rapidly expanding misuse of disinfectants. Disinfection is the chemical destruction of microorganism’s cell structure, excluding spores, especially on inanimate objects. In order for disinfection to occur, four primary conditions must present:
- The chemical disinfectant solution must be accurately prepared.
- The surface must be clean of all organic and inorganic soil-loads.
- The surface must remain completely wet for label designated contact time. The contact time will generally range from five minutes to ten minutes to achieve full microbial disinfection efficacy (viral, bacterial, and fungal). One square inch about the width of a male thumbprint typically contains 20,961 germs on desktops touch-points.
- Once contact time is accomplished, the surface should be rinsed or wiped dry to avoid chemical residue (chemical biofilm) from interfering in future disinfection procedures. The rinse cloth or drying cloth needs to be clean and uncontaminated, or recontamination of the surface area will occur.
Although these steps are reasonably well-known rarely are they followed; as a result, studies now show the misuse of disinfectants is linked to the ever-expanding list of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. With the constant bombardment of advertised disinfectant wipes, businesses may feel compelled to provide staff members with products of this nature. Regrettably, rarely are these wipes used in such a way that meet the conditions required in steps two through four. Additionally, most people will use these wipes without the protection of gloves. Repeated skin exposure to disinfectants will lead to contact dermatitis and will increase your risk of infection.
HRM will need to increase sanitation levels within the workplace to help ensure safety implementing procedures that achieve the objective without creating new health risks will require acumen.
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