The Difference Between Quarantine/Isolation and Social Distancing

Quarantine/isolation and social distancing are part of the measures to reduce the risk of local transmission of COVID-19. The key difference is quarantine/isolation restricts the movement of a person to a certain zone. Whereas social distancing is a behavioural practice of keeping a safe distance between each other. It does not impose a locational constraint to a person.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has studied the pattern of transmission amongst the locally transmitted cases, and found that many were infected during events and social gatherings, and interactions between colleagues at workplaces.

A few precautionary measures in the workplace should be in place to ensure our invaluable company’s asset (workforce), patrons and their loved ones are protected.

1. Defer

• non-critical events and gatherings.

2. Encourage

• employees to stay at home if feeling unwell.
• employees to practice good personal hygiene.
• limiting attendees and duration of meetings.

3. Ensure

• good air ventilation.
• temperature taking exercise and health & travel declaration a compulsory practice to facilitate contact tracing when necessary.
• workplace is properly cleaned and sanitized.
• physical spacing between workstations and seats in meeting rooms (of at least 1 meter apart).
• queues (e.g. outside restaurants, at retail stores) is kept fast-moving.
• patrons to keep a safe distance (of at least 1 meter apart) amongst themselves by demarcating queue, reducing operating capacity, floor marking and adopting alternate seating.

4. Facilitate

• employees to work from home and utilising technology such as video conferencing to reduce the chance of physical interactions including mingling and meal times.
• staggered working hours. Where possible, reporting and ending times should not coincide with peak-hour travel, especially if employees require the use of public transport.

5. Provide

• personal protective equipment (such as gloves and masks) to employees when necessary.


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Workplace Health Hazards

We are surrounded by many different types of health hazard all the time, either knowingly or unknowingly. To better care for our workers and ourselves, education about what constitutes a health hazard thus becomes essential. As we all know, there is a causal relationship between a cozy, comfortable and safe working environment and a healthy workforce with better morale. Employers can achieve higher productivity or minimize productivity loss by creating a workplace/office that maximize their employees’performance, reduce absenteeism and presenteeism.

Although not all workplace or office can be designed equally the same, we shall nonetheless do our best to avoid any possible hazard that poses a threat to our workforce.

So, what is workplace health hazards? Let’s go through one by one.

1. Air contaminants

Air contaminants consist of particulate contaminants and gas & vapour contaminants. Particulate contaminants can be dust, fumes, mists, aerosols, fibres, fly ash, oil smoke, smog, tabacco smoke, soot.

2. Chemical hazards

Chemical hazards can be in the form of air contaminants. It can affect worker by inhalation, absorption (skin contact) or ingestion. They can be skin irritants or corrosive. Degree of risk depends on nature, potency of the toxins, magnitude and duration of exposure.

3. Biological hazards

Biological hazards refer to pathogens such as infectious bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microorganisms. Worker should practice proper personal hygiene and be attentive to cuts, scratches or wounds on skin. Workplace should provide proper ventilation and personal protective equipment (PPE) such as glove, respirators, hazmat suit, safety suit, eye and hearing protections.

4. Physical hazards

Physical hazards include excessive levels of noise, vibration, electrical risks, falling objects, heat and electromagnetic field. Adequate and appropriate PPE must be provided.

5. Ergonomic hazards

Ergonomic hazards is the result of awkward interaction between worker and his given environment or poorly designed job tasks/process. It causes worker discomfort, strain, unnatural movements or poor posture.

6. Psychosocial hazards

Psychosocial hazards associated with psychiatric, psychological or physical injury or illness. This includes occupational burnout, depression, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, lack of co-worker support, work intensification, boring, stress, low pay and lack of recognition.

7. Accident factors

Accident factors mainly because of unsafe mechanical & physical condition, acts, work nature and personal factors.

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Epidemic Readiness in Workspace and Office

While a business strives to sustain and making a profit for growth, it is also exposed to various types of risk which is out of its control. A few examples are operational, economical, political and biological risk.

In view of more diverse and frequent outbreaks of diseases and infections, business needs to better prepared itself to the pandemic/epidemic threats that might jeopardize its continuity in an extremely short period of time.

A business experiences the impacts of an outbreak through its employees, suppliers and customers. Financial losses can arise because of workplace absence (quarantine order, leave of absence, Stay-Home Notice and medical leave), increased healthcare cost, disruption to business operation, supply chain disruptions, border closure and reduced customer’s footfall.

In order to tackle the biological threat, we can deploy 5 levels of controls, namely elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls and personal protective equipment (PPE).

The 5 Levels of Control

Elimination is done through suppressing the reproduction of pathogens, inhibiting cell-wall synthesis and obstruct the activity level of the pathogens. This is the most effective control measures.

Substitution is done through reducing the chance of spreading of diseases with the use of operational surveillance system and technology (robot, CCTV, video conference, drone, self-driving vehicle).

Engineering controls is through designing and build the capabilities of the first entry point in the workplace for defense against diseases and infections.

Administrative controls is through company control policy such as roster/flexible working arrangement, temperature taking exercise, health and travel declaration.

PPE is through wearing a protective clothing, helmet, goggles, mask or other garments/equipment designed to protect the wearer from infections. This is the least effective control measures.

Contagious diseases/infections can transmit through 3 forms of medium. They are liquid, gas and solid. We are working with our partners in tackling the threat with the use of eco-friendly technology and products. Approach we use to sanitize an existing space where business is already on going is very different from a workplace where it is completely new/under renovation. We can help you to minimize business disruption while achieving a safe workspace sanitization, 24/7, without going through a thorough cleaning process that might involve costly manpower costs.

Click here to download a copy of our brochure.

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Office for the Millennials

Is your office setting ready for the millennials? As a commercial interior designer specializes in technology integration with universal design (UD) principals in mind, we understand how appropriate use of technology and space can facilitate collaboration, improve productivity and inclusiveness effectively. Talk to us to find out more.

Employees are generally happy in their jobs, but as communications and productivity technology advances, they are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with workplace capabilities. Though they still rely on analog equipment like landlines and desktops, they’re ready for a workplace that can accommodate their changing lifestyles.
~ Dell & Intel Future Workforce Study Global Report

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Typical Business Operating Costs

Staff costs can take up as much as 90% of typical business operating costs. Designing and running your business in a highly efficient workspace with appropriate technology integration and corporate culture can certainly improve collaboration, effectiveness, efficiency and staff retention, thus, reducing staff costs.

Source: World Green Building Council

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