Mar 13, 2020

Latest workplace Covid-19 regulatory guidance

Notes below from a WHO webinar 11th March on "EPI-WIN COVID-19 Employers and employees" s (recording and slides will be available at a later date).


1st presentation – Guidance for employers

  • Keep workplaces clean and hygienic (surfaces, keyboards etc.)

  • Encourage employees to regularly wash hands with soap and water (correct method, wash for enough time etc.)

  • Provide travel advice to employees

  • Anyone sick should stay at home

  • Hand sanitisers should be available 

  • Masks and paper tissue should be available in case anyone exhibits symptoms (visitors)

  • All objects like mobile phones and desks should be wiped with disinfectant at least one a day

  • Promote teleworking where possible

  • Brief employers, contractors etc.

  • Advise contractors to consult travel advice before going on business trips

  • It is the responsibility of employees to comply with travel guidance 


2nd presentation

  • Important to think about precarious workers. And health workers, who are at the frontier

  • Promote teleworking as much as possible. Not all workers can do this, e.g. workers facing the public, in social care/education etc.

  • Need to have income protection for those who are self-isolating or asked to take time off

  • Important to have a coming together of companies

  • If factories are open the one meter distance should be kept between workers, hand sanitizers should be readily available (suggested this should be provided by govt. agencies?)

  • Think about access to canteens

  • Use of personal safety equipment

  • Need to support family and workers who go through this change

  • Slowing productive activities if they're not essential, health has to come first

  • Adequate measures need to be followed


3rd presentation

3 areas of focus:

  1. Communication to companies and business associations on how to make workplaces safe and prevent spread

  2. Business impact, value change

  3. Working with govt. to offer preferential policies for businesses


A few examples of what employers and organizations are doing:

In the UK CBI is working closely with Govt, and providing advice to members on how to prevent spread, what to do if someone is showing symptoms. CBI has a special webpage with all the relevant info about the virus. Internal policy for events etc.

Singapore – dedicated webpage with guidance based on latest advice from Ministry of Health and Ministry of Manpower. Different federations coming together.  Advice given to frontline employees.

Cambodia – not too many confirmed cases but ILO already has a huge project and presence through a program set up to ensure workplace compliance. ILO has provided guidance to the main garment association. Garment association sent letter to their members with info, i.e. asking people to isolate if they have been to high risk countries, importance of personal hygiene etc.

Employers globally are taking health and safety as high priority and are taking necessary steps and working with federations and ministries.


4th presentation:

  • Occupational safety and health. Preventing infection in workplace

  • ILO's target is all workers, not just high-risk (health workers)

  • Most important part is to develop and implement policy

  • Need commitment and support

  • Hoping to produce a guideline asap


Other comments/Q&A

  • Informal workers, gig economy, countries with weak health systems and countries with weak protections – they are a concern.

  • Workplaces have a role in stopping the spread. Slowing down the pace.  This protects individuals.  Importance of simple measures like staying home if you're ill, not coughing on other people, social distancing, washing your hands every hour, using hand gel, not touching surfaces that could be infected, not touching your face, coughing in your sleeve.

  • Breathalyzer test – infection prevention control.  Working on developing flexible and appropriate guidance.  Concern about people using same breathalyzer.  Single use items.  If not single use need to be sterilized.  They can be disinfected.  

  • Schools have a responsibility towards staff and students.  Boarding schools, where students come from abroad.  Hosting sports events.  UNICEF guidance for schools is available.  It will also depend on local risk assessment.

  • Can mine workers be considered high risk?  Don't have specific data.  They are working in conditions that may already have affected their respiratory health.  Preexisting conditions could lead to higher vulnerability.

  • Always try to maintain a distance of one meter between yourself and others