The Government of Spain has published a guide on good practices in work centers to prevent the spread of COVID-19, coinciding with the return to their work centers, on Monday or Tuesday, of all those workers in non-essential activities that cannot work from home.
The guide contains essential measures on hygiene and distances between people to be applied before, during and after going to work.
Following Are Guidelines
The first measure is that if you have symptoms or have been in close contact with people affected by the virus, you are recommended not to go to the work centre until such time as it is confirmed that you are not at risk or a risk to others. Accordingly, you should contact the COVID-19 hotline enabled in each region and consult the list of 10 actions in the event of displaying symptoms, available at this link.
Nor should those people go to work who are vulnerable due to their age, who are pregnant or suffer from underlying medical conditions who, if necessary, may contact their doctor to justify their need for isolation and who, should this be the case, will be considered, for employment purposes, to be in a similar situation to a work-related accident for the economic provision of temporary disability.
Travel to work
The guide on good practices recommends travelling to work by means that do not involve more than two people being in the same place, and which guarantee the essential distance between people of 2 metres.
In the event of travelling by car or in a vehicle for hire, you should take the appropriate hygiene measures and avoid more than one person using a row of seats, maintaining the greatest possible distance between occupants. If travelling by bus, underground or train, you are recommended to maintain your distance from other passengers and, in the case of public transport, the guide recommends using a non-medical face mask.
At the work centre
As regards the work centre itself, the tasks to be performed and arrivals and departures, this should be organised by workers so as to maintain the recommended distance from other workers of about 2 metres.
Similarly, the distance between people should be guaranteed in common areas and the number of people in these areas should be limited. The return to normality of those activities that entail a risk of a build-up of people in certain areas should be the last factor to take effect.
In the event of companies or establishments open to the public, measures should be implemented to minimise contact between workers and the public, and the guide lists the following recommendations:
- The maximum capacity should allow people to keep the minimum distance from each other.
- When possible, access control mechanisms will be enabled at entrances.
- Everyone, including those waiting in queues, must keep the minimum distance from each other.
- The company must provide individual protection equipment when risks are unavoidable or cannot be sufficiently limited by collective protection means or through work organisation measures or procedures.
- Individual protective equipment will be appropriate for the activities and tasks to be carried out.
When the work space does not allow people to keep the minimum distance from each other, shifts will be staggered to the extent possible, which will also avoid transport becoming crowded. People are also recommended to work from home and hold meetings by video-conference when possible. Journeys to the work centre should be avoided unless essential, when work can be solved by telephone or video-conference.
As regards the use of face masks at work centres, the guide indicates that it is not essential to use a face mask at work if the tasks involved do not require this and if people are able to keep the minimum distance from each other.
Staff must be informed of the health recommendations they should follow individually and be provided with the necessary hygiene products – soap, sanitising liquid and disposable tissues – to follow these individual recommendations.
More thorough cleaning procedures should be followed each day with products authorised by the Ministry of Health to disinfect work areas. These can be consulted at this link.
The guide also indicates that it is necessary to have sufficient supplies of protective material, particularly gloves and face masks, and that specific measures should be adopted to minimise the risk of the spread of the disease to particularly sensitive or vulnerable workers, such as those over the age of 65, pregnant women and those with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic pulmonary diseases, cancer and suppressed immunity.
Companies must facilitate, through the risk prevention services, work from home or low risk work conditions.
If this is not possible, employees in these circumstances can ask for an assessment from their local GP.
As regards health and safety at work, it is advisable to draw up a contingency plan identifying the risk of exposure to the virus from different activities and adopting preventive measures for each circumstance, as well as protocols to protect the workforce and employees that display any symptoms.
Recommendations to workers
The guide recommends that workers, as well as keeping a distance from others of 2 metres, avoid close greetings and, as far as possible, the shared use of equipment. In the event that it is necessary to share equipment, safety measures should be stepped up, disinfecting them before use if possible. Should this not be possible, you should wash your hands immediately after their use in the way recommended, which you can consult here.
The guide recommends not touching your eyes, noise or mouth, and to frequently wash your hands with soap and water for 40 seconds, or with a sanitising liquid. It is particularly important to wash your hands after coughing or sneezing, and after touching surfaces that are potentially contaminated.
In the event of coughing or sneezing, you are recommended to cover your nose and mouth with the inside of your elbow or with a disposable tissue, throwing it into a closed rubbish bin afterwards.
Hygiene measures in the work centre
The guide advises periodically ventilating installations at least once a day and for a period of five minutes. To help air renewal and to carry this out regularly, it is recommendable to regularly clean air filters and increase the level of ventilation of air conditioning systems.
Cleaning tasks should be enhanced in all instances, particularly those surfaces that are frequently touched, such as windows and door handles, and all those devices used habitually by employees, from machine controls to tables and computers. During each shift change, the work area used by the employee must be cleaned.
The cleaning personnel assigned to these tasks must be suitably protected, performing all their tasks while wearing a face mask and single-use gloves, and have the usual cleaning liquids available if these are sufficient, although bleach and other disinfectant products may also be introduced into cleaning routines, always ensuring the correct safety measures are taken.
Similarly, once the cleaning tasks are completed, and after disposing of the gloves and face masks, cleaning staff must thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water for at least 40-60 seconds.
Work uniforms and similar clothing will be put into closed bags and taken to the location with they are habitually cleaned, and it is recommended that they be washed on a complete cycle at a temperature of between 60 and 90 degrees centigade.
Waste management at work centres
Ordinary waste management will continue to be performed as usual, respecting the protocols on waste separation.
Disposable tissues should be used by staff to dry their hands and to comply with the respiratory etiquette and disposed of in waster paper bins or rubbish bins with a lid, if possible, activated by a foot pedal. All hygiene material – face masks, latex gloves, etc, – should be disposed of in waste containers, grouped with waste from domestic origin once different forms of waste have been separated.
In the event that a worker shows symptoms while at work, the container where their tissues and other used products were disposed of should be separated. That rubbish bag should be removed and place in a second rubbish bag, and sealed, to be deposited with the special waste.
After going to work
Once arriving home from work, workers should keep their distance and adhere to hygiene measures at home, especially if living with other people in at risk groups.