New SOPs for workplace safety in India to contain spread of virus

The government has issued new SOPs that allow work to resume in offices after disinfection has been done in accordance with new protocols.
By: | February 17, 2021

India’s health ministry said: “If there are one or two COVID-19 cases reported at a workplace, the disinfection procedure will be limited to places/areas occupied and visited by the patient in the past 48 hours, and work can be resumed after disinfection as per laid down protocol.” 

In cases where a larger number of COVID-19 cases are being reported at the workplace, the whole block or building must be disinfected before work can resume. 

As offices and other workplaces are relatively close settings, with many shared spaces like workstations, corridors, elevators and stairs, parking places, cafeteria/canteens, meeting rooms and conference halls, the virus can spread relatively fast among officials, staff and visitors, it said. 

The new guidelines also mandated offices in containment zones to remain closed except for those that provide medical and essential services. Only those outside containment zones are allowed to open. 

Staff residing within containment zones should notify their supervisors and not go into their offices till the containment zone is declared clear. These staff should be allowed to work from home, the new SOPs said. 

According to the SOPs, mandatory hand hygiene and thermal screening must be done at the entrance, and only asymptomatic staff or visitors can be allowed to enter. Individuals must also maintain a minimum social distance of six feet in common areas as far as possible.

In addition, staff and visitors must also use face covers or masks at all times and practise frequent hand washing.  Meetings, as far as possible, should be done through video conferencing, the ministry added. 

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If a COVID case is reported despite taking the appropriate action, the management should place the ill person in a room or area where he or she is isolated from others at the workplace, according to Hindustan Times. 

“A risk assessment will be undertaken by the designated public health authority and accordingly further advice shall be made regarding the management of the case, his/her contacts and need for disinfection. The management of cases and contacts will be done as per the existing protocol,” it said.