The International Labour Organisation, ILO.
By Victor Young
International Labour Organisation, ILO, has given conditions for re-opening workplaces, following the COVID-19 pandemic, which include the provision of personal protective equipment, PPE.
ILO urged governments to take action to prevent and control COVID-19 in the workplace with active involvement and dialogue with employers’ and workers’ organisations, as the pressure mounts on countries to ease their lockdown restrictions.
The global body wants all employers to need carry out risk assessments and ensure their workplaces meet strict occupational safety and health criteria beforehand, to minimise the risk to workers of exposure to COVID-19.\
A statement by ILO’s Director-General, Guy Ryder, noted that “without such controls, countries face the very real risk of a resurgence of the virus. Putting in place the necessary measures will minimise the risk of a second wave of contagion contracted at the workplace.
“In the face of an infectious disease outbreak, how we protect our workers now clearly dictates how safe our communities are and how resilient our businesses will be, as this pandemic evolves.
“The safety and health of our entire workforce is paramount today. It is only by implementing occupational safety and health measures that we can protect the lives of workers, their families and the larger communities, ensure work continuity and economic survival.
“In particular, risk control measures should be specifically adapted to the needs of workers at the frontline of the pandemic. These include health workers, nurses, doctors and emergency workers, as well as those in food retail and cleaning services.”
ILO also highlighted the needs of the most vulnerable workers and businesses, in particular those in the informal economy, migrant and domestic workers.
It said measures to protect these workers should include, among others, education and training on safe and healthy work practices, free provision of PPE as needed, access to public health services and livelihood alternatives.
Also, besides the conditions given by ILO, World Health Organisation, WHO, Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “On World Day for Safety and Health at Work, I call on all countries to assure well-defined, decent and safe working conditions for all health workers.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for strong national programmes to protect the health and safety of health workers, medical professionals, emergency responders, and the many other workers risking their lives on our behalf.”
To ensure a safe return to work and to avoid further work disruptions, ILO recommends, among others, “mapping hazards and assessing risks of contagion in relation to all work operations, and continuing assessing them following a return to work;
“Adopting risk control measures adapted to each sector and the specifics of each workplace and workforce. These may include reducing physical interactions between workers, contractors, customers and visitors and respecting physical distancing when any interactions occur;
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“Improving ventilation in the workplace, regularly cleaning surfaces, ensuring workplaces are clean and hygienic, and providing adequate facilities for handwashing and sanitisation;
“Providing Personal Protective Equipment, PPE, to workers where necessary and at no cost; providing arrangements for isolating suspected cases and tracing every contact; providing mental health support for staff, and
“Providing training, education and informational material about health and safety at work, including proper hygiene practices and the use of any workplace controls, including PPE.