Gap between COVID-19 awareness and pandemic guideline implementation: more effort needed from most small companies in Japan
The COVID-19 pandemic started in mid-January 2020 in Japan and the number of infected cases increased drastically in March. The government healthcare bodies of Japan introduced community-based guidelines for social distancing, quarantining, limited traveling, and maintaining hygiene to prevent the rapid spread of the disease. The Japan Society for Occupational Health also released similar measures for workplaces. However, how many of these guidelines have been implemented in companies and how this varies depending on the size of the organization is not known.
To address this, we designed a study with full-time employees in Japan and conducted an online survey. The survey had questions related to the announcement and implementation of the guidelines. It also enquired about the size of the workplace.
Overall, 79.9% of the respondents of the online survey reported that their employer announced the guidelines. However, one-fifth of the companies did not even announce the measures for controlling the spread of the deadly infection. Less than half of these respondents reported implementation of most of the guidelines by their companies. Notably, measures pertaining to preventions taken by individuals saw higher implementation than steps taken to ensure temperature measurement.
Interestingly, we found that smaller companies are more likely to skip the implementation of the guidelines. It could be due to lesser resources and no designated healthcare professionals within the company. Larger firms, specifically those in information technology, public services, and medical services were more likely to announce the guidelines and enforce implementation as they have easier access to resources.
This study highlights the need for efforts to ensure the implementation of workplace measures and specifically focus on smaller companies and help them with the necessary resources to assist with implementation strategies.
Link to the original journal article:
Workplace responses to COVID-19 and their association with company size and industry in an early stage of the epidemic in Japan
Natsu Sasaki, Reiko Kuroda, Kanami Tsuno, Norito Kawakami
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