Home > Article > Things You Can Do to Stay Safe from Covid-19 in the Workplace
Nadhif Seto Sanubari
06 August 2020
The Large-Scale Social Restriction (PSBB) Transition Period means the gradual reopening of offices, shops, and many other places where Jakarta citizens go to perform their occupational obligations. Though the transition period has enacted a 50% capacity limit for most public spaces as well as enforcing physical distancing, the threat of Covid-19 cannot be ignored completely. The novel coronavirus which spreads via water droplets from the mouth or nose not only travels through the air up to 1.5 meters, but also sticks to surfaces such as tables, door handles, and even the palm of your hands. So what can we do as employers, employees, and workers to mitigate further spread of Covid-19 in the workplace?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every workplace needs to perform a risk assessment by considering the environment, the task, the threat, resources available, such as personal protective equipment, and the feasibility of protective measures.
The WHO categorizes workplaces into three stages: low, medium, and high exposure risk. Low exposure risk workplaces refer to work that requires minimal contact with other people such as jobs that can be done from home or offices that limit its capacity and enforces physical distancing. Medium exposure risk includes jobs that require close contact with many people or takes place in possibly crowded locations such as markets, bus stops, public transport, or retail.
[Read about health protocols in various sectors here]
Lastly, the high-risk exposure workplaces are ones that require close contact with people with a high likelihood of having Covid-19, as well as contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. Jobs included in this category are usually ones that require transporting or entering the homes of people who may have contracted Covid-19, such as domestic workers, social care workers, personal transport and home delivery providers, and home repair technicians.
Before we talk about the measures for medium and high-risk workplaces, it is important to know which preventive methods apply to all places of work or activity in general. A place to wash hands with running water and soap must be provided for use of all employees, along with alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Managers must communicate to workers the importance of regular hand washing, maintaining physical distancing of at least 1.5 meters, and wearing triple-layered cloth masks. Sanitization and disinfection of the workplace itself must be performed regularly. Employees who feel unwell or show symptoms similar to Covid-19 must be advised to stay at home to self-isolate and contact the Covid-19 Hotline at 112 if symptoms worsen.
For workplaces categorized into the medium-risk group, sanitization and disinfection need to be done at least twice a day. All shared rooms, often-touched objects and surfaces, floors, bathrooms, and changing rooms have to be cleaned routinely. If possible, all activities that require close contact of under 1 meter should be reduced or ceased. If not, improve the room ventilation and enforce the use of masks, gloves, face shields, and other personal protective equipment.
High exposure risk workplaces are highly advised to strictly follow health and cleanliness protocols, as well as moderate contact with other people. But the first thing to be considered is whether or not all work activities can be stopped for the time being. Ceasing work activities is the fastest, most effective way of mitigating high exposure risks. If work must continue, provide personal protective equipment for workers, including masks, face shields, and gloves. Train workers in properly putting on and sanitizing the equipment, and to wash hands regularly before, during, and after work. Avoid giving high-risk tasks to vulnerable individuals (pre-existing medical conditions, pregnant, or over 60 years of age).
[Covid-19 cases in Jakarta during Transition Period]
Always remember, whether you are a manager or worker, to perform the tips mentioned above. Categorize your workplace and assess its risks, whether it is low, medium, or high and perform the appropriate preventive measures. As workers, you must follow the health protocols that have been put in place and report possible Covid-19 cases that you find to your manager. Employers need to clearly communicate the health protocols and action plans to their employees and provide them with the necessary protective equipment. If we all pitch in and perform the necessary measures, we can stay healthy, safe, and productive in the workplace.
Penulis dan penerjemah alumni Universitas Bina Nusantara, dengan pengalaman internasional di University of Bradford, UK dan Deakin University, Australia.
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