Although the outlook is uncertain in many business sectors due to the Pandemic, senior managers are analyzing the option for their employees to adapt to the new reality, with a healthy return to the offices. According to Lupita Quintero, a specialist in Labor Law, in general, business administrators are asked to have an Occupational Health and Risk Management Plan to attend to the emergency caused by COVID-19, according to the characteristics and risks specific to each work center, business, or activity, which must comply with the legal guidelines of the Ministry of Health, the Executive Power and other public authorities.
In addition, apply the corresponding sector protocol, in order to include actions to avoid preventing the spread of the Virus. For this, it is important that companies follow the following protocol guide:
1) Identify a coordinator and/or workgroup that defines the roles and responsibilities of each person during the preparation and response process for the attention of this COVID-19 alert.
2) Define the mitigation, containment, and prevention measures applicable to each work center.
3) Maintain a capacity of 50% and a distance of 1.8 meters between employees.
4) Label and mark areas, according to the infographic published by the Ministry.
5) Train staff in the prevention and management of the COVID-19 disease.
6) Wear and maintain personal protective equipment.
7) Have a cleaning protocol and register log.
8) Have effective waste management.
9) Have at hand a protocol for handling suspected and confirmed cases.
10) Recommend keeping telecommuting tasks, if the company’s business line and jobs allow it.
The internal plan or measures of each work center must be communicated to all the personnel prior to the return of the employees to the offices and the personnel must be trained on the measures to be implemented and updated through new training when necessary. “We recommend keeping a record of these trainings”, indicated Lupita.
Additionally, it is advisable to keep a record of entries to the work center to allow keeping a control of the capacity and also to allow an epidemiological study to be carried out if there is a suspected or confirmed case in the company.
In each workplace where more than 50 workers work, an office or occupational health department must be maintained. The employer must hire a specialist and prepare an Occupational Health Program. In addition, timely reports are required.
But not only employers must comply with a series of protocols, also employees have to submit to new responsibilities in the face of this reality. Among these are:
1. Submit to the guidelines and provisions indicated in the protocols and sanitary measures issued by public authorities for work centers in the face of the health emergency by COVID-19.
2. Collaborate and participate in programs that seek their training in the prevention and management of the COVID-19 disease.
3. Maintain constant and strict surveillance of their health, to detect symptoms of contagion for COVID-19.
4. Report any situation for risk of contagion of COVID-19 that can be identified in the workplace.
5. Use, conserve, and take care of the equipment and personal protection elements that are provided.
6. Properly manage bioinfectious waste.
Employers and collaborators could be sanctioned
The Labor Law specialist emphasized that in the event of not complying with the established measures and this is confirmed in inspection by the Ministry of Health or other competent authorities, the company could be sanctioned, including the suspension and cancellation of permits operation and closure of the establishment.
On the other hand, the collaborator who does not comply with the measures indicated by his employer, is exposed to disciplinary sanctions, such as reprimands and even dismissal without employer responsibility.