NIH Pakistan Issues Workplace Guidelines for Covid-19

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COVID19 workplace NIH
People wearing protective facemasks walk out from a Pakistan-based Chinese company in Islamabad. Photo by Aamir QURESHI / AFP) (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

Since the mid-April, Federal government along with other provinces except Sindh are working towards the strategy of Smart Lockdown. Under the Smart Lockdown, government intends to ensure that engine of economy doesn’t stop working and daily wagers as well as small and medium industries keep operating.

Read More: Imran Khan’s Smart lockdown Strategy

While there is still uncertainty and criticism in the country against this partial lockdown strategy of government, the evidence from developed countries indicate that smart lockdown is a viable option. Prime Minister Imran Khan has instructed all provinces and capital administration to observe similar practices and SOPs as are followed by Western countries as well as Saudi Arabia and UAE after they eased lockdowns.

NIH Guidelines for Work Places

The Covid-19 cases in Pakistan are increasing day by day with count reaching beyond 18,000 till date. To avoid any further devastating effects of easing lockdown, the National institute of Health Pakistan has released detailed guidelines for all types of organizations. These guidelines are to be applied across the country with provincial governments and their respective local administrations responsible for their enforcement at work places.

Help Desks for Covid-19 related information

NIH suggests every organization to set up a helpline desk or appoint any focal person responsible for dealing with any coronavirus related issue in organization. The help desk should also circulate any updated information related to the virus by health department.

Mandatory leave for Sick and Distressed Employees

It is mandatory for organizations to regularly keep a check on health of employees. Employees having body temperature above 100.4℉, severe headaches, cough, sore throat or any respiratory problems should be advised to stay home. Similarly, any employees having a COVID-19 patient at home should be given leave to take care of family under proper company policy.

Employees should be encouraged to use masks and gloves in case of any light cough or even allergic sneezing.  

Behavioral and Structural Changes to cope with COVID-19

Companies should ensure a thorough verbal and written communication to employees regarding the coronavirus, its symptoms, effects and prevention. The company should also issue written guidelines regarding quarantine and isolation in case of any detection of virus. There should be clearly written and visible notices for employees regarding hand and body hygiene, coughing and sneezing etiquettes, and physical distance required between the employees.

The work places should be responsible to arrange for ample tissues, wipes, dustbins, sanitizers, soaps, and water for employees to maintain good hygiene.

Workplace Cleanliness and Sanitization

All workplaces are required to conduct regular cleaning and deep sanitization according to instructions by WHO. The frequently touched surfaces like door knobs, desks, counter surfaces, waste disposals should be sanitized several times a day. As instructed by health department, 5% of bleach for disinfection of washrooms and working floors should be used as a compulsory component. The cleaning staff should be provided with proper PPEs for their protection.

Commute and Travel Advisory for Employees

The National Institute of Health (NIH) requires the organizations to keep track of employees’ travelling and commute details. Since provincial governments are providing details regarding areas with high number of coronavirus cases, companies should ensure that employees do not travel to those areas. The employees should inform focal persons for COVID-19 issues at their work places regarding any traveling to high risk areas.

Additional Instructions

NIH has issued instructions to avoid calling personnel to work who have COVID-19 positive family members. Moreover, if any employee has COVID-19 symptoms, company should ensure that there should be proper isolation arrangements for him. Virtual meetings should be preferred over large gatherings. The employees should leapfrog virtual meetings if they are suffering from any illness or worsening condition.

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