Are you ready for your staff to return to work on a full-time basis? Here are some aspects and regulations you should consider.
POSTCOVID-19 RETURN TO WORK REQUIREMENT
Occupational Safety and Health Risk Assessments
Every employer shall carry out appropriate occupational safety and health risk assessments in relation to the safety and health of persons employed and send a copy of a report of risk assessment to the Director of Occupational Safety and Health Services. The report shall be presented to the Director within thirty (30) days from the date of reopening.
Covid-19 Policies and Workplace Readiness
Workplaces shall develop and communicate to all employees, a COVID-19 Preparedness Policy Statement that addresses all aspects of COVID-19 readiness and Measures against COVID-19 and arrangements for dealing with suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases and clear guidelines and specific requirements when sick or ill staff may be absent to attend hospital and to staff who are not sick or ill but need to be absent to care for others, especially family members.
Assessment of Non-Essential Work and Working from Home
All employers are responsible for identifying work activities and workers whose services can still be undertaken from home, document the same, and issue-specific protocols involving safe working from home. Such employees must be duly notified and the specific legitimate daily, weekly, or monthly expectations and outputs be clearly shared with the employees.
Commuting to Work, Safe Passage to and from Work
All employers must sensitize their workers on COVID-19 risk mitigation measures including sufficient information to keep employees safe while in private and public transportation systems. Where possible the employers should consider providing a safe commute to and from work for their employees.
Workplace Safety and Health
COVID-19 requires the adoption of new safety and health culture that focuses on the prevention and minimization of transmission risk at the workplace. All workplaces shall be required to ensure strict observance of social distancing of at least two (2) meters in all directions, regular handwashing with soap and running water, sanitizing with approved hand sanitizers, regular disinfection of common areas and surfaces (handrails, lifts, doorknobs, etc.) and maintenance of workplaces in clean and healthy states. In addition, every employer shall be required to provide and enforce the use of face masks at the workplace. Any person who fails or refuses to use a face mask in any workplace or fails or refuses to adhere to procedures or protocols established by the employer shall be denied access to the workplace.
Work Injury Insurance
Every employer shall obtain and maintain an insurance policy, with an insurer registered by the Insurance Regulatory Authority in respect of any liability that the employer may incur under the Work Injury Benefits Act, 2007 to any of his employees. This is in accordance with section 7(1) of the Work Injury Benefits Act. The said policy shall explicitly confirm that all occupational diseases and confirmed occupational exposures to COVID-19 are covered under that insurance.
Medical Examinations and Issuance of Certificates of Fitness
All workers returning to work on or after the reopening date shall be required to attend a medical examination conducted by any medical practitioner registered by the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board.
Health Risk Assessments for Returning Employees
Every workplace shall be required to conduct health risk assessments to determine if any particular workplace substances or activities pose a significant risk to human health and, if so, under what circumstances.
Mental Health and Mental Well-being
COVID-19 has impacted heavily and adversely the world of work by contributing to negative effects on specific groups more vulnerable to adverse labor market outcomes and has led to increased demand for mental health support and mental well-being considerations. In order to maintain healthy workers in a safe work environment, employers and affected employees are strongly encouraged to work together to minimize any potential impact on employees.
Suspected and Confirmed Covid-19 Employees
Any employee with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 shall inform the employer and the employer shall require such employees to report to the identified Ministry of Health institutions for care, quarantine, or self-quarantine as may be appropriate.
Discrimination of Suspected and Confirmed Covid-19 Employees
An employer shall not dismiss, discriminate against, or disadvantage an employee in any way with respect of the employee’s status with regard to COVID-19 or if an employee makes a complaint about a matter which the employee considers is not safe or is a risk to health.
Registration of Workplaces
COVID-19 is already affecting some workplaces but because they are not registered and remain unknown, such workplaces may not benefit from workplace interventions by the Directorate of Occupational Safety and Health services.No person shall be allowed under any circumstances whatsoever to reopen without a certificate of registration as a workplace and without self-assessment on COVID-19 preparedness at the time of application for registration. All workplaces that are already registered and the certificates have not expired shall be exempted from this requirement. For the avoidance of doubt, a “workplace” includes any land, premises, location, vessel, or thing, at, in, upon, or near which, a worker is, in the course of employment. Examples of workplaces are factories, office spaces, places of worship with any number of employees.
Safety and Health Audits
An employer shall do a comprehensive and thorough safety and health audit of his workplace within thirty (30) from the date of reopening. The audit shall be conducted by a safety and health advisor, who shall conduct the audit, issue a report and send a copy of the report to the Director. The report shall dully be titled POSTCOVID-19 INITIAL SAFETY AND HEALTH AUDIT REPORT for the specific workplace and shall have a section within the report on COVID-19 and the actual status as
at the date of the audit. The report to the Director shall be accompanied by an action plan, specifying clearly among others, clear action items for COVID-19.
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Workers with Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
All employees aged 60 years and those with pre-existing conditions such as respiratory diseases, diabetes, and any other dangerous conditions that may exacerbate the risk of COVID-19 shall be required to collaborate with their employers who will, in turn, be required to ensure that such employees are safe and healthy.
Read the full report Here: POST – COVID Return to work
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We were part of the NTV Morning show – Your World where we discussed various issues faced by employers and employees during the Covid times.