The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Friday released the guidelines on workplace prevention and control of COVID-19 for private sector institutions allowed to operate during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ).
The guidelines cover all workplaces, employers, and workers in the private sector.
The government earlier released a list of businesses allowed to operate during ECQ and GCQ periods.
Below are the health and safety standards to be implemented in all workplaces.
Before entering buildings or workplaces all employers and workers shall observe the following:
- Wear face masks at all times and remove the same only when eating/drinking. Employers shall provide the appropriate face masks for workers. Should a cloth mask be used, the washable type shall be worn with additional filter material such as tissue papers inside the mask may be added.
- Accomplish daily health symptoms questionnaire and submit to the guard or designated safety officer prior to entry.
- Have their temperature checked and recorded. For any personnel with temperature above 37.5 degrees Celsius, even after a five minute rest and needs further questioning shall be isolated. Isolation [areas] shall be well-ventilated and disinfected frequently. Clinic staff assigned to attend to isolated persons shall be provided with PPEs.
- Equipment or vehicle entering hubs must go through disinfection.
- If there will be long queues outside office or establishment premises, roving officers should instill physical distancing.
Inside the workplace personnel shall observe the following measures:
- All work areas and frequently handled object shall be cleaned and disinfected at least once every two hours.
- All washrooms and toilets shall have sufficient water, soap as workers are encouraged to wash hands frequently and avoid touching eyes, nose, mouth.
- Sanitizers should be made available along corridors, conference areas, elevators, stairways, and where workers pass.
- Workers shall practice physical distancing at minimum one meter radius.
- Eating in a communal area is discouraged. However, if eating in an individual work area is impossible, physical distancing should be maintained in dining areas.
- Canteens and kitchens should be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
The DOLE and DTI encouraged alternative work arrangements, such as working-hour shifts, work-from-home.
For those who will be physically present at workplaces, the government discouraged prolonged face-to-face interaction between workers and masks shall be worn at all times.
Meetings are advisable to be kept at a minimum number of participants and at shorter durations.
Office tables, meanwhile, should be arranged to maintain proper physical distancing and barriers may be provided between tables.
“Work station layout should be designed to allow for unidirectional movement in aisles, corridors, or walkways,” the guidelines read.
The number of people in closed spaces such as rooms or stores shall be limited and elevator use should consider one meter physical distancing.
The government encouraged the use of stairways, but subject to physical distancing requirements.
“If more than two stairways are accessible, one stairway may be used exclusively for going up and another for going down,” the circular read.
Online systems are highly encouraged to be utilized for clients needing assistance from offices including use of videoconferencing.
Roving officers shall always ensure physical distancing and observance of minimum health protocols.
In the event that a worker is suspected of COVID-19, the following shall be observed:
- The worker shall immediately proceed to the isolation area designated in the workplace and never remove his/her mask.
- Clinic personnel attending should wear appropriate PPEs and if needed, should require the transport of the affected worker to the nearest hospital. Company protocols for transport for suspected COVID-19 cases and for PCR testing should be in place including providing for ambulance conduction. Hospital will report to the DOH for COVID-19 suspect.
- Workplace shall be decontaminated with appropriate disinfectant. After disinfection work can resume after 24 hours.
- Workers present in the work area with the suspect shall go on 14 days home quarantine. If a co-worker is negative of COVID-19, co-workers may be allowed to report back to work.
If a worker is sick or has fever but is not suspected to have COVID-19, the employer must advise the worker to stay at home and keep away from work or crowds, take adequate rest and plenty of fluids, practice personal hygiene, and seek proper medical care. — RSJ, GMA News