Written by: Rita Magallona
In the last week of April 2020, the Philippine government announced two major updates:
The extension of the from the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR) to May 15
The new general community quarantine (GCQ) for areas with low or medium risk of community transmission
Under the GCQ, more workplaces will be allowed to resume operations to bolster the economy. But mindful of the spread of COVID-19, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have issued guidelines that private companies must follow.
10 Ways to Keep Employees Safe During the GCQ
1. Mandatory Wearing of Face Masks
Wearing face masks is now required at all times in the workplace, especially during meetings with clients and co-workers. The same rule applies when workers are traveling to and from work.
2. Physical Distancing
Workers need to be at least one meter apart from each other at all times. They are also discouraged from eating in groups.
3. Personal Sanitation
Regular handwashing with soap and water is a must, or disinfect them with alcohol or sanitizers. Workers should also avoid touching their faces.
Companies should make sure that all washrooms are stocked with enough soap, clean water, and sanitizers. If possible, they should also install disinfection booths or footbaths at entrances.
4. Frequent Disinfection
Companies should ensure that all work areas and communal spaces are cleaned and disinfected at least once every two hours. Particular attention should be paid to frequently handled objects such as door knobs, light switches, and handles.
6. Alternative Work Arrangements
Companies are encouraged to adopt alternative work arrangements like work from home (WFH) and rotating work shifts where possible. Thankfully, it’s possible to set up a home office that boosts productivity.
7. Less Face-to-Face Meetings
Generally, prolonged face-to-face interactions are discouraged. Therefore, meetings that need physical attendance should be short and have only a few participants. For longer discussions, participants should engage in video conferencing instead.
8. Workstation Layout
The workstation layout should allow workers to move in only one direction along aisles, corridors, and walkways to avoid unnecessary contact. Some offices may also shift from an open-space plan to one that promotes physical distancing.
9. Infection Preparedness
Companies should designate an isolation area where a worker should go in case he or she is suspected of having COVID-19. The company should also have the means and protocols in place to transport the affected worker to the hospital for coronavirus testing.
10. Mandatory Temperature Check
Everyone entering the building will be subjected to a temperature check. Also, workers should fill out and submit a daily health symptoms questionnaire to the security guard on duty or a safety officer.
In addition, employers must fill out a DOLE Work Accident/Illness Report Form (WAIR) monthly to report any illnesses and diseases. This form should be submitted to the nearest DOLE regional office, with a copy furnished to the Department of Health.
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