COVID-19 Health and Safety Considerations When Returning to the Workplace

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19, an infectious disease that has never been scientifically identified in humans before, was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 12th, 2020.

After months of lockdowns and home-isolations worldwide, restrictions are lifting, businesses are reopening, and people are leaving their homes to return to their place of work. Now it is more important than ever for organizations to introduce protocols to manage health and safety risks in the workplace in order to help prevent a second wave of the Coronavirus disease.

What is required of employers?

Employers are required to conduct a risk assessment in the workplace with regards to COVID-19 exposure:

  • Identify and implement control measures to minimize exposure
  • Continuously monitor effectiveness of such control measures
  • Provide information/training/instructions to essential staff supported with continuous awareness talks/notices/placards
  • Supervise where applicable
  • Ensure preventative maintenance

How to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace?

  • Provide frontline staff with the materials or equipment necessary to prevent person-to-person transmission, including soaps, sanitizers, facial masks, and latex gloves
  • Prioritize electronic document handling measures to minimize person-to-person transmission through document and stationary handling, where possible
  • Provide all staff with training on hygiene and sanitization of workspaces and on COVID-19 risk identification and response protocols
  • Ensure cleansing and sanitizing of reception areas, offices, lifts, vehicles, biometrics and ablution facilities, and all other objects that are generally touched by persons utilizing the facilities, including handles and taps
  • Disinfect floor and work surfaces of offices periodically, at least twice a day during working hours
  • Assign staff (including service providers) to sanitize hands of people entering the workplace
  • Install secured alcohol-based sanitizer dispensers at all points of entry, exit, workstations and in the passages/corridors
  • Issue all staff at reception, admission and operational areas with appropriate protective equipment with immediate effect (as per the Standing Operating Procedures of the Department of Health)
  • Ensure that gloves are regularly sanitized
  • Provide bins for the disposal of biohazardous material
  • Establish mechanisms for reporting of identified cases of transmission and infection without raising public alarm and fear
  • Provide protective materials and or equipment for prevention of person-to-person transmission for general workers and operators of equipment and vehicles as a precautionary measure
  • Ensure that sufficient stock is available for the duration of the national state of disaster

Take a checklist with you on the go:

Download a Return to Work Checklist

Should you consider a contingency and business continuity plan in case of an outbreak?

YES! According to the World Health Organization, ‘The plan will help prepare your organization for the possibility of an outbreak of COVID- 19 in workplaces or communities.’ Contact ARISCU today for business continuity services!

Should you consider remote Health and Safety audits?

YES! The same procedure applies for onsite and remote EHS Legal Compliance Audits, with the difference being the electronic collection and recording of evidence by a designated employee of the company. While, the external auditor uses the electronic evidence to assess legal compliance, instead of relying on an onsite visit for data collection and observations. Contact ARISCU today for remote auditing services!

More info: | 012-362 6500