Operational Guidelines on Preparedness and Response for COVID-19 for Work Settings – Part - 2 | Daily News


Operational Guidelines on Preparedness and Response for COVID-19 for Work Settings – Part - 2

Wash hands frequently
Wash hands frequently

The Directorate of Environmental Health Occupational Health and Food Safety of the Health, Indigenous Medical Services Ministry has announced the guidelines to be followed at workplaces and other public and private entities to prevent/control the spread of possible COVID-19 infection. Further, it provides additional precautions to be adhered to considering the different categories of workplaces and settings. The measures are simple to follow and can be adopted easily.

These guidelines had been prepared considering the current known evidence and is subject to change when new knowledge is made available. All workers and employers need to adhere to these recommendations in order to arrest any possible transmission of COVID-19 infection. Here are some more important guidelines.

3.8 What needs to be done on returning home from work place.

Upon returning home before entering the house,

• Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

• Remove the clothing and shoes/slippers and leave them outside, and wash them before taking inside or wearing them again.

• Leave all your belongings outside. If any item is taken inside the house, either wash it with soap and water or disinfect with alcohol sanitizer. (This applies to your mobile phone, spectacles, wrist-watch etc.)

• Enter the house only after a bath.

3.10 Safety of cleaning staff

• While on cleaning duty all staff shall wear the appropriate protective gear. (Face masks,impermeable aprons, gloves etc.)

• They should wash or sanitize their hands thoroughly after each encounter (after cleaning each room, washroom, front desk, sales counter etc.)

• Those who handle waste of suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 should wear the full protective gear.

• They also should maintain one meter distance with each other at all times and the management need to look into this as the resting places of this category of staff are usually congested.

• After each cleaning session all cleaning utensils and cloths shall be thoroughly washed and disinfected as per section 3.3 above and dried in the dryer or under hot sun for about 30 minutes.

• Washing and bathing facilities shall be provided to the cleaning staff.

• They should be regularly educated and updated of the importance of their duty, the new guides and protocols and their safety as well.

3.11 Responsibilities of the Management

Depending on the requirement, personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, goggles, face masks, gowns or aprons (when appropriate), must be provided to the employees and they should be encouraged to wear them, according to recommendations.

All workers in the facility have to be permanent or traceable staff of the factory. Their names and addresses must be documented in a register. Refrain from employing temporary workers during this period.

Improve ventilation in workplaces and where feasible install air filters. Where air conditioners are not used leave the doors open.

Restrict large gatherings. Avoid in-person meetings as much as possible. Alternative methods of communications like video conferencing are recommended. If an in-person meeting is essential, minimize the number of attendees.

Pre-order sufficient supplies and materials, including tissues and hand sanitizer for all participants. Different modes of working (through e-mails, teleconferencing etc) to be employed to minimize physical contacts. Ensure that all masks, gloves head covers etc. shall not be re-used and shall be securely disposed.

Disposal of waste shall be carried out as per the guidelines routinely followed except for the waste of suspected persons which has to be managed in accordance with the guidelines on waste management (Interim guideline for management of solid waste generated by households and places under self quarantine due to COVID-19 outbreak), issued by the Ministry of Health.

All cleaning staff should be given training on the correct procedure of waste management. They should be provided with suitable PPE, including industrial gloves and provided with adequate facilities for hand washing with soap and water.

All toilets have to be maintained in a hygienic manner. Where feasible the main entrance to the toilet unit can be kept open. Hand washing facilities with soap and water is to be provided outside the toilets, to wash hands after leaving the toilet. It must be noted that the door handles of toilets are to be cleaned and disinfected as mentioned in section 3.3.

Educate and train all workers on COVID-19 infection, risk factors and protective behaviours (e.g., cough etiquette and care of PPE and to follow the instructions in section 3.2 of this document). Posters and health education messages to be displayed to encourage workers to comply with given instructions.

4.2 Government and Private Offices

Following measures are to be adopted in addition to the general measures described in section 3 above.

• Restructuring the workplace Employers should establish policies and practices, such as limiting operations to essential processes and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts) to increase the physical distance as social distancing strategy.

• Establish alternate days or extra shifts that reduce the total number of employees in a work place at a given time, allowing them to maintain distance from one another.

• Work stations should be arranged in such a way to keep a distance of one meter between workers.

At the entrance of the workplace

• Anyone entering the premises (both visitors and staff) should wear a facemask and wash their hands with soap and water before entering.

• Check the temperature of all the staff at the time of entrance to the workplace and any person recording a temperature above 98.4 0F or 37. 0C should be re checked in 10-15minutes and if positive for second time the person be sent back.

• Maintain one meter distance between workers when queuing up at the entrance.

Inside the workplace

• All workers shall wear masks while on duty and should maintain a distance of at least 1m between persons, staff and customers.

• Discourage workers from using other workers desks / work stations, common telephones, fax machines or other work tools and equipment, whenever possible.

• Advice staff to minimize verbal and written communication between co-workers and use alternative methods (Public address system, intercom etc.) for internal communication

• Doors should be kept open between sections to reduce unnecessary handling by the workers.

• Maintain regular housekeeping practices, including routine wiping/ cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, equipment, and other items in the work environment (Refer to section 3.2 above)

• Lunch breaks and tea breaks should be given in batch-wise to prevent crowding the meal room.

Instructions for Customers/Visitors

• All customers visiting government or private offices should wear face masks and maintain a distance of 1m from other customers/staff.

• Staff shall use soap and water for hand washing or an alcohol rub for disinfection of hands after completion of work with each visitor. These facilities for hand disinfection are to be provided by the employer.

• The customers shall be made aware of the control measures in place within the office through print, digital or video messages.

4.6 Public transport

Following measures are to be adopted in addition to the general measures described in section 3 above. These measures apply to all public transport including trains.

Before commencement of the trip

• Vehicle interior including entry points should be disinfected before starting each trip (Please refer section 3.3)

• Driver, conductor/helper/ all train station staff and all the passengers should wear face masks.

• Keep one meter distance between the passengers and limit the number of passengers to 50% of the seating capacity.

 • Taxi service motor cars and three-wheelers should carry maximum of 2 passengers.

• Minimize the handling of cash and encourage passengers to bring the exact amount for the fare.

• Hand sanitizer/alcohol rub can be fixed at the entry point of the vehicle /bus stand /railway station to sanitize the hands of passengers during the entry to the transport.

• All passenger contact points in train stations should be disinfected daily.

• Instructions in chapter 3 shall apply to office environment and section on service counters to ticket counters.

During Travel

• Provide adequate time to get in to the vehicle and get down from it in order to practice non touch technique inside the vehicle/during the travel.

• One identified door should be used for loading passengers.

• Health promotional messages and recommended behavior should be transmitted through the public address system inside the vehicle.

4.5 Supermarkets

Following measures are to be adopted in addition to the general measures described in section 3 above.

• Provide hand washing facilities at the entrance preferably with a foot or elbow operated tap and make sure that each customer washes hands before entering.

• Before opening the supermarket, clean and disinfect the floor, counter tops and all common contact surfaces. (Please refer to section 3.3)

• Keep the entrance and exit doors open or keep dedicated persons to open and close the doors.

• Take only a designated number of customers inside in order to maintain 1 meter distance between two persons including the queue.

• Customers without masks shall not be allowed in.

• Advice the staff not to wear nonessential accessories/ornaments (such as wrist watch, bracelets, jewellery etc) during working hours.

• The handles of the carts and baskets should be disinfected after each use.

• Operating of weighing machines should only be done by the dedicated staff members.

• Avoid selling unpacked common retail items (Rice dhal etc) and pre-pack them and keep ready.

• Cashier should be advised to sanitize hands with each encounter with customers.

• Please follow the counter guide described in section 3.4.

• Customers be given the option whether to issue a paper invoice or arrange the invoice to be sent electronically to the mobile phone.

• Maintain express counters (less than 5 items).

• Utility bill payments through supermarket counters shall be suspended during this disease transmission period.

• Remove all customer operated devices (E.g. touch screens at the cashier).

• Make customers aware of the measures and health messages through print, digital and audio media.

• It is recommended to arrange separate small stalls outside the main market for commonly sold items such as rice, coconut, potatoes onions etc. This measure could reduce the overcrowding inside the main hall.

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