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27 May 2020

Safe workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic

Guidelines for employers and employees

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is essentially important to maintain necessary precautions in the place of work, due to the importance of reduction in the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, to ensure the safety of employees.

The obligations of employers regarding ensuring protection against COVID-19 are regulated by the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of May 2nd, 2020, on establishing specific restrictions, orders, and bans in connection with the occurrence of the state of the epidemic. According to the provisions of the Act, employers and entrepreneurs employing employees are required to prepare an occupational health risk assessment. They should also apply the necessary preventive measures to reduce the threat.

The responsibility to provide protection and safety during COVID-19 pandemic

Obligations regarding ensuring the safety and health of working person lie (under Article 207 §2 and Article 304 of the Labor Code) on:

  • employer – concerning employees employed based on an employment contract as well as performing work for the employer on a basis other than an employment contract (including self-employed), provided that this work is performed at the workplace or in a place indicated by the employer;
  • entrepreneur – concerning persons employed on a basis other than an employment contract (including self-employed).

Personal protective equipment provided by the employer

Regardless of the basis of employment, the employer must provide employees with continuous access to:

  • disposable gloves or
  • hand disinfectants.

Recommended distance between work stations

The distance between workplaces should be at least 1.5 m (distance in a straight line between the desks of employees). The organization of jobs following this condition rests with the employer.

Workstation type
Recommendations
Workstations at the computer
A minimum of 1.5 m in a straight line between the desks
Workers’ stands
A minimum distance of 1.5 m between the closest workers
Workstations for machinery
If for structural reasons, it is not possible to maintain a distance of 1.5 m between the two closest persons operating the equipment, employees must be provided with appropriate collective or individual protection measures.

 

Factors increasing the probability of SARS-CoV-2 infection

Workplaces should be prepared for safe work taking into account factors that increase the likelihood of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Factors include social contacts (between employees, as well as employees with people outside the workplace), joint use of tools and work equipment, and shared use of sanitary rooms, communication routes, and social rooms.

Preventive measures recommended by the National Labor Inspectorate:

  • it is recommended to organize work in teams with a permanent composition and a limited number of employees directly contacting each other (2-3 people);
  • limiting the time of direct contact (up to max. 15 minutes);
  • the use of personal protective equipment (e.g. respiratory filtering equipment, eye and face shields, goggles, disposable full-plastic gloves, leg protection, protective suits), separating employees from clients;
  • using hand disinfectants and work surfaces;
  • strict compliance with hygiene rules at the workplace:
    • daily disinfection of places and frequently touched surfaces (door handles, worktops, desks, keyboards, washbasins, toilets, soap dispensers, and others);
    • providing access to places where you can wash your hands with soap and water;
    • providing daily wet cleaning with floor detergents, tables, chairs, cabinets in social rooms;
    • preventing the sharing of tableware and ensuring disinfection of kitchen utensils;
    • for the removal of newspapers, magazines and information brochures from social rooms;
    • for ensuring regular cleaning and disinfection of company vehicles and their equipment with hand disinfectants as well as paper towels and rubbish bags.

Access to medical care during COVID-19 pandemic

Employees should be able to provide individual, personal or telephone consultations of an occupational medicine physician with preventive care over employees, especially regarding the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and the burden arising from the simultaneous occurrence of chronic diseases.

Mobility as part of performing official duties

Performing official duties outside the workplace, people on foot should move in a group not exceeding 2 people and at a distance of not less than 2 m from each other.

 

 

 

Information prepared based on a brochure published by the Central Institute for Labor Protection – National Research Institute. More information can be obtained on the website of the National Labor Inspectorate.

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