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Ministry provides directives to private firms on measures to protect employees

Apr 02, 2020 by QNA

The Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour, and Social Affairs issued a set of directives that companies operating in the private sector must take at the workplace and housing to protect workers, as part of preventive measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).

The directives included a set of instructions that the owners of those companies must follow at the workplace and at the workers' residence, the most important of which is setting the work hours of construction workers to 6 hours per day until further notice.

These measures also stress the need to reduce meetings at the workplace and housing and applying preventive and occupational safety measures to protect workers from the coronavirus.

In this context, the Ministry stressed the need for the business owner to exchange information and increase workers' awareness of the measures adopted at the enterprise and government levels regarding tackling the Corona virus, with an emphasis on regularly measuring workers ’body temperature and monitoring and reporting symptoms of the respiratory system.

Corporate officials were also instructed to highlight the importance of good personal hygiene by reminding workers to wash their hands regularly, covering the mouth with the arm while coughing or sneezing and avoiding touching their faces, as well as working with workers ’representatives or workers’ welfare officials who can communicate in workers’ native language to encourage them to exchange information, ask questions and verify information.

The directives also asks for increased cleaning and sanitation of areas with high human contact at workplaces, accommodation, buses, bathrooms, kitchens, canteens and other places used by workers, while providing disposable wipes so that workers can wipe out commonly used surfaces like door handles, keyboards, remote controls and desks before each use.

Employers in private companies have been directed to restrict social gathering to the minimum necessary, reduce work hours to 6 hours for construction workers until further notice, and gradual entry and exit of workers at the workplace, limiting the use of common spaces such as shared dining areas and changing rooms to a limited number of workers at a time in line with the social distancing and preventive measures issued by the Ministry of Public Health.

The directives of the Ministry urged to reduce the people density at the workplace that the number of workers does not exceed four in one room. Restrict all personal meetings and internal movement as much as possible and suspending all training programmes.

The Ministry stressed the need for companies to emphasize the role of the Occupational Safety and Health and Administration official to supervise workers at the workplace and ensure the implementation of prevention measures, especially those related to conducting a risk assessment to protect workers and reduce the spread of the coronavirus, and work with the relevant health authority to develop a plan to properly identify and manage suspected Covid-19 cases at the workplace.

The Ministry's guidance took into account the psychological aspect of workers in this aspect, as it stressed the need for companies to take into consideration the impact on the mental health of workers such as concern about job security and income, or concern about the risk of contracting the coronavirus, and thinking about the situation of family members in their countries of origin.

The Ministry also directed the necessity of providing psychological and social support to employees infected with the virus after recovery, and also working to check the temperature of workers before boarding buses to move to the place of work and return, isolate any worker whose body temperature is high and report through the Ministry of Public Health hotline on the number 16000.

The Ministry called on companies to take advantage of the clinics available to them to carry out procedures for examination and follow-up of the health status of workers, and to provide additional preventive measures for workers most vulnerable to injury, such as those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart, respiratory and other chronic diseases.

The Ministry's directives also told companies to make sure that the maximum number of employees in buses do not exceed 50 percent of the number of seats on the bus and to make sure to use masks and provide hand sanitizers at the workplace, and not to gather inside the workplace and leave safe distance between workers throughout the time during doing work.

The Ministry stressed that the Labor Inspection Department will monitor employers ’compliance with this policy through strict inspection campaigns, stressing that failure to comply with these procedures will lead to legal actions.

The ministry explained that if a suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus infection is not reported, the employer will be subject to penalties stipulated as per the law on prevention of infectious diseases.