Tag Archives: occupational health

Covid-19 Pandemic: Safe Return to Work and Business Continuity

The Article Earlier Published in https://www.spotlightnepal.com/2020/07/02/covid-19-pandemic-safe-return-work-and-business-continuity/

office disinfection-0

Many nations, along with big corporations, industries, organizations as well as all kinds of manufacturing facilities and worksites around the globe are facing with unprecedented nature of obstacles and challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic. People are desperate to get back to Pre-COVID life; or at least to be able to attend to their bare minimum day-to-day businesses. Amidst all the uncertainties and restlessness brought about by the disease, business organizations and offices are trying to cope with the situation and open up slowly. However, the threat of novel coronavirus and the risk of its infection among the employees remain paramount.

Employees are the most important resources in any organization, therefore adequate health and safety measures need to be in place to protect them from exposure and transmission of this deadly virus at workplaces.

To begin with, businesses need to form a joint Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) committee/team, if it is not already an integrated part of the organizational management system. Train the team members on the basic principles for the formulation and implementation of OHS preventive and control measures to fight Covid-19. Direct the team to develop a work plan including the steps to be taken to organize a safe and healthy return to work program. Moreover, you can also integrate this work plan into the framework of your Business Continuity Plan (BCP) which is basically a comprehensive written plan to maintain or resume the business of your organization in the event of a disruption, such as this one.

office disinfection

As part of the work plan you should conduct an organization wide Covid-19 risk assessment to determine the preventive and control measures necessary for a safe return to work.

The purpose of this risk assessment is to first identify the work areas and processes which pose the risks of virus spread, then implement proper risk mitigation measures to control those risks. In addition, risk assessment helps you identify critical personnel (who will need to be present at the office and site) and focal points (to monitor Covid-19 prevention and control measures) which are of vital importance while planning for your BCP as well.

The information gathered from the risk assessment would also help organizations to plan for work-from-home, job rotation of employees, emergency preparedness and continuing business activities during extended/unforeseen disruption. Following the risk assessment, the OHS joint committee or team should implement a hierarchy-of-controls strategy that utilizes engineering as well as administrative (or organizational) controls to prevent the spread and transmission of Covid-19 in your facility. Some of the significant aspects of these control measures are discussed below.

office disinfection-1

Before as well as after reopening of the workplace, employees/workers need to be provided with all the necessary information about the workplace processes and measures taken against Covid-19. Proper signage should be placed in visible places around the facility explaining requested preventive and control measures to be followed by the employees.  Maximum occupancy of different workplace areas need to be determined to maintain physical distancing of at least 2 meters at all times and in all work-related situations. Management needs to increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfection, especially in common areas.

However, if your workplace, school, or business has been unoccupied for 7 days or more, it will only need your normal routine cleaning to reopen the area at first. This is because the virus that causes COVID-19 has not been shown to survive on surfaces longer than this time.

office disinfection-6

Make sure that the workplace is ventilated daily, preferably with natural ventilation by opening the windows. In case of mechanical ventilation (HVAC system), you should maintain enough recirculation with outdoor air. Management should strictly avoid high concentration of staff during collective transportation; determine number of riders, maintain distancing and enforce use of mask to cover mouth and nose. office disinfection-4

During the Covid-19 pandemic employers should promote and encourage remote work and telework, as far as possible. To avoid large group of employees, you should adopt work rotation measures including alternating working days. Employees should stay 2 meters away when they must go into a shared space. However, If/when close contact is unavoidable, employees must wear mask or cloth face coverings in corridors, closed spaces, vehicles, meetings, etc. Furthermore, you should try to keep close contact for minimum duration; less than 15 minutes. In case of emergency signs, such as trouble breathing, pressure in the chest, etc. you should immediately inform your supervisors.

office disinfection-7

Promotion of personal hygiene is highly important in prevention and control of Covid-19 infection within an organization or otherwise as well. Employers must provide workers with the conditions and means necessary for frequent hand washing and hand sanitizing. It is healthy and safe to prioritize the use of paper towels instead of fabric towels or electric air-jet drying devices in rest rooms. Workers must avoid physical contact when greeting each other. They should avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth without having previously performed hand hygiene and disinfection. Sharing food, drinks, kitchen and personal toilet items can be avoided as temporarily. Don’t forget to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; using inner face of the forearm or elbow is recommended.

office disinfection-5

Based on the risk assessment employers should provide appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to mitigate health & safety risks faced by the workers. Appropriate safety measures, along with proper PPE, need to be implemented for the use and storage of chemicals, particularly those used for disinfecting the work environment. Such practices must always be accompanied by adequate instructions, procedures, training and supervision.

office disinfection-3

In addition to environmental disinfection including personal hygiene and various administrative control measures, OHS joint team should also conduct routine health monitoring of employees including temperature checks; twice a day. Management must define protocols to stay at home for workers with symptoms or suspicion of Covid-19. Maintain a travel log for all the staff travelling to/from the high risk regions or countries. Moreover, one should stay alert to identify workers who have had close contact with people infected with Covid-19 and communicate the same with appropriate authorities voluntarily.

office disinfection-8

People, in general, are already anxious and stressed due to extended lockdowns and fear of infection. Therefore, management should put extra effort in promoting a safe and healthy working environment which is free from negativity, such as violence, discrimination and harassment.

Make psychological counselling services available to workers in case of need. Besides, the OHS team must ensure that the organization’s safety-critical systems and personnel (such as maintenance, security, first aid, emergency services, transportation, etc.) are ready and fully functional. Develop an organizational emergency response plan especially adapted to Covid-19.

office disinfection-2

It is highly important to make your workforce feel safe and secured by regularly communicating with them regarding the changes in safety measures made at the workplace due to unfolding Covid-19 pandemic.

As the situation evolves, management, in consultation with the OHS joint team, should periodically monitor the organization’s Covid-19 prevention and control measures to determine whether they have been adequate to avoid or minimize risk, and to identify and timely implement corrective actions for continuous improvement.

Furthermore, it is highly encouraged to maintain records related to work-related injuries, illnesses as well as worker exposures, monitoring of the work environment and workers’ health.

Although the crisis of Covid-19 is still evolving with numerous confusions and uncertainties around it, we need to realize that we are far from business-as-usual which will be affected for a significant period of time. Therefore, to address the challenges of Covid-19 in your organizations, establishing a resilient health & safety culture now becomes more important than ever.

The Article Earlier Published in https://www.spotlightnepal.com/2020/07/02/covid-19-pandemic-safe-return-work-and-business-continuity/

Also Read:

COVID-19 Outbreak: N95 Respirators

COVID-19 Outbreak: Cloth Face Coverings

COVID-19 Outbreak: Surgical Face Masks

COVID-19: Know Your Risk Level

COVID-19 Outbreak: Cloth Face Coverings

(22 August 2018) When A Fire Broke Out at the 12th Floor of a 16 Story Residential Building in Mumbai

COVID-19: Disinfecting Your Homes and Offices

Construction Industry: Fatal (Focus-Four) Hazards

Ensuring Occupational Health & Safety by Managing Risk

A Business Case for Health & Safety….

Fire Prevention and Fire Protection – Air Pollution in Kathmandu – Construction PPE – Carbon Monoxide poisoning – Electrical Safety – Fall Protection in General Industry– Fearsome 4 of Construction Safety – Fall Restrain System Vs. Fall Arrest System – Respiratory Protection – Portable Ladder Safety – Confined Space Entry – Initiating First Aid/CPR – Are you too busy… – If you have $86,400 in your account…

 

National Occupational Safety and Health Policy 2076BS Nepal

labor worker employee

For the first time, the government has brought the National Occupational Safety and Health Policy 2076BS to make the workplace healthy, safe, organized and dignified. The Council of Ministers recently approved the policy (subject for review every five years) set by the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security. (Published 9 January 2020; Kantipur Daily, Kathmandu, Nepal.)

Read More…OHS Act 2076 BS_ Nepal

Also Read:

COVID-19: Disinfecting Your Homes and Offices

Covid-19 Pandemic: Safe Return to Work and Business Continuity

Construction Industry: Fatal (Focus-Four) Hazards

Ensuring Occupational Health & Safety by Managing Risk

A Business Case for Health & Safety….

Fire Prevention and Fire Protection – Air Pollution in Kathmandu – Construction PPE – Carbon Monoxide poisoning – Electrical Safety – Fall Protection in General Industry– Fearsome 4 of Construction Safety – Fall Restrain System Vs. Fall Arrest System – Respiratory Protection – Portable Ladder Safety – Confined Space Entry – Initiating First Aid/CPR – Are you too busy… – If you have $86,400 in your account… – Safety professionals have job prospects as Insurance Risk Surveyor or Loss Assessor

Suggestions Invited on the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019: Submit by 22nd November

This is probably great news for Nepal (as well) where OHS promotion fraternity is preparing to table similar BILL in the parliament; sooner than later, I guess!

Read More…

Our Gov.in

Department: Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour

Deadline: 22nd November (15 days from 8th November)

Contact id: send two copies in either English or Hindi to the Lok Sabha Secretariat Director (AN-II&L) or email to comm.labour-lss@sansad.nic.in

Document:

View original post