Following the gradual removal of some restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus, the National Labour Inspectorate (PIP) has issued recommendations to facilitate employees’ safe return to work.
Recommendations of the National Labour Inspectorate – gradual resumption of professional activity
Despite lifting some restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic in Poland, some restrictions on work will still be maintained. Therefore, the gradual return to normal operation of workplaces requires the implementation of new safety rules and procedures and reorganisation of the existing way of work.
The PIP guidelines provide for the establishment of an action plan, including specifying of appropriate security measures and controls to prevent the possibility of SARS-CoV-2 spreading and to ensure regular and smooth work as far as possible.
Recommendations of the National Labour Inspectorate:
- prior to resuming work, employees must be informed of the changes implemented and new procedures and/or training must be provided,
- in the first phase of the return to work, to perform only the key work and tasks (provide services remotely and, as far as possible, minimize the presence of third parties in the workplace),
- reduce physical contact between employees (e.g. during meetings or breaks) and isolate employees who can safely carry out their tasks themselves and, if possible, have them work in a free office, social room, canteen or meeting room as part of room adaptations,
- ask the most vulnerable employees to work from home if possible,
- meal breaks should be arranged in such a way as to limit the number of people staying at the same time in the kitchen / canteen, social room, toilet and cloakroom,
- take into account cleaning and disinfection schedules when using the sanitary facilities,
- display the posters encouraging people to stay home in case of illness and reminding them of hand hygiene rules as well as the guidelines for using masks and gloves at the entrance to the workplace and in other visible places,
- use disinfectant mats at entrances to offices and production halls if possible,
- implement appropriate technical measures at the workplace:
- collective protection measures, e.g. plexiglass enclosures, separation of worksites with partitions
- if a partition cannot be used, additional space must be provided between workers (minimum distance 1.5 m)
- avoid elements that are not compact or have spaces, such as potted plants, or that pose an additional risk, for example, a person stumbling or an object falling,
- ensure efficient and proper ventilation of working areas,
- provide organisational measures:
- shifts at work,
- increase the time and number of breaks,
- direct only qualified employees to do a specific job,
- provide personal protective equipment, e.g. half masks FFP2 and FFP3, N95, gloves,
- provide behavioural measures such as: compliance with management rules and guidelines, supervision of employees,
- provide anti-epidemic measures including:
- provide disinfectants for cleaning hands and work environment elements – tables, handles, handrails, technical equipment such as shared printers and copying machines,
- increase in the frequency of cleaning working spaces and, above all, hygiene and sanitary areas,
- remind about hygiene rules – practical information distributed in generally accessible workplaces.
- enable employees to use individual transport instead of public transport, e.g. provide parking spaces or enable safe storage for bicycles.
Safe return to work – temporary agency workers and division of labour
The additional workload resulting from increased staff absence should not last too long so that there are no health and safety risks for the available personnel. It is therefore important to continuously monitor the situation and prevent excessive workloads for individual employees and to respect the rules on working time and rest periods.
Extra training and support should be provided if necessary, and it is essential to ensure that all employees have the necessary qualifications to carry out the tasks entrusted to them.
Temporary staff should be informed of the risks in the workplace and, if necessary, the employer should provide them with the required training.
Special precautions should be taken when resuming hazardous work, so it is important to allow employees to recall key information about security, for example in the form of training before starting work.
See also: Coronavirus: employees’ preventive medical examinations during a pandemic