The Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) has issued awareness instructions for employers, highlighting the measures companies should take in workplaces and accommodation facilities to ensure protection of workers from the coronavirus Covid-19.
The ministry posted an advisory in this regard on its Twitter page Sunday.
The advisory lists the steps that employers should take. These are divided into three broad heads - information sharing and awareness raising; increased cleaning and sanitation; limitation of social gatherings to the minimum essential; and enhancing the role of the occupational safety and health officers and management to supervise workers and ensure that protective measures are applied.
1. Information sharing and awareness raising:
* Raise workers’ awareness about the measures that are being adopted at the enterprise and government levels
* Highlight the importance of checking the body temperature regularly and monitor for respiratory symptoms
* Highlight the importance of observing good personal hygiene by reminding them to wash their hands regularly, cover the mouth with the elbow if coughing or sneezing and avoid touching their faces
* Work with worker representatives/welfare officers who can communicate in the workers’ languages. Encourage workers to share information and perspectives, ask questions and verify information.
2. Increased cleaning and sanitation:
* Increase the frequency of routine cleaning and sanitation of areas with high human contact at worksites, accommodation, bus, bathrooms, kitchens, canteens (for example, common spaces used for meetings, toilets, lifts, refuse bins and handrails)
* Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped down by employees before each use
3. Limitation of social gathering to the minimum essential:
* Reduce work timings to six hours (per day) until further notice
* Stagger the entry and exit of workers from the workplace
* Restrict the use of common spaces (for example, canteen and changing rooms) to a limited number of workers at the same time, in line with the Ministry of Public Health's guidelines
* Work as much as possible to reduce population density in the workplace and accommodation by allocating 6sqm per worker in the accommodation facilities
* Prohibit all in-person meetings that are not essential and limit internal movement as much as is feasible
* Suspend all training events
4. Enhancing the role of occupational safety and health officers and management to supervise workers and ensure that protective measures are applied, in particular:
* Perform a risk assessment to protect workers and mitigate the spread of Covid-19
* Work with public health authorities to develop a plan to identify suspected cases and contacts with Covid-19 in your workplace and manage them properly
* Consider impact on mental health (for example, anxiety about job and income security, about the risk of contracting Covid-19, and the situation faced by their family members in their home countries)
* Provide psychological and social support to infected employees after recovery
* Examine workers' temperature before boarding buses to move to the workplace and return to the accommodation
* Isolate any worker with high temperature and report to the Ministry of Public Health hotline, 16000
* Take advantage of the clinics available in companies to carry out examination procedures and follow up on the health status of workers. Provide additional precautionary measures to workers most vulnerable to infection, such as those with chronic diseases (diabetes, heart and respiratory diseases).
* Limit the number of workers and users of buses to a maximum of 50% of the number of seats on the bus
* Ensure the use of masks and availability of hand sanitisers in the workplace
* Ensure that there are no gatherings inside the workplace and that a safe distance is kept between the workers at all times while performing the work
* Do not forget about other safety and health risks in the workplace
The ministry stressed that the Labour Inspection Department will monitor employers’ compliance through strict inspection campaigns and failure to comply will result in the application of penalties.
In case of failure to report suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection, the employer will be subjected to the penalties stipulated in Law No 9 of 2020 amending some provisions of Decree Law No 17 of 1990 regarding the prevention of infectious diseases.