by Jose Luis Ribes Muñoz, OSH Practitioner, Valora Prevención
“Prevention, action and contingency plan against Covid-19”: this is the title of the document prepared by Valora Prevención to provide recommendations on how to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, also following guidelines from official organisations such as WHO, the ILO and the Ministry of Health.
On the one hand, the measures proposed in the document are based on telework whenever possible; on the other hand, where this option is not feasible, collective measures are suggested to ensure the safety distance in each job as well as in the common areas of the organisation (e.g., dressing rooms, dining rooms, toilets, access areas). These collective measures include the placement of screens, reorganisation of jobs, access control, closure of shared areas, cleaning, and continuous disinfection of the facilities.
Personal protective equipment
The use of personal protective equipment is mandatory in the workplace. Even though there are no clear regulations in this specific regard, Valora Prevención has always considered the use of masks in organisations to be very important – specifically, FFP2/KN95 for those jobs where the distance cannot be maintained.
Specific training courses about Covid-19 have been developed, focusing on different sectors, to strengthen the knowledge on pandemic control. As the pandemic evolved and regulations were updated, Valora has always kept its clients informed in a timely manner regarding all those new aspects that were coming out. Actions have been implemented at both the organisation level and the social media level.
Management of contacts in the work area and performance of tests
The Ministry of Health entrusted prevention services with the task of detecting, identifying, and managing infections and close contacts in the workplace, which meant a significant management effort.
As a result of this effort, a large majority of infections has been registered in the social and personal areas, as well as in those common spaces where people relax and do not pay much attention to prevention measures. Another very important source of contagion has been travel in both public transports and private vehicles, in which adequate precautions have not been maintained.
The Ministry of Health authorized prevention services to carry out infection detection tests, both PCR’s and antigen tests, performing many of these tests on workers of client organisations.
Through the increase in knowledge about the forms of contagion which has occurred over time, the spread of aerosols in closed spaces has been identified as one of the main sources of contagion.
There are methods to assess exposure to biological contaminants, but none of them has been found to be adequate for assessing exposure to Covid-19. So, the most reliable way to assess potential exposure is by measuring concentration of Co2 in closed spaces. Therefore, ventilation is usually the most appropriate measure to minimise the possible exposure.
Due to the prolonged duration of the pandemic, psychosocial risks have been generated that can be traced back to a lack of personal contacts both at personal and work level. So, as workers and persons in general, it is important to know how to act in these situations and acquire tools to work on our resilience capacity.
Within the H-WORK project, Valora Prevención has proposed actions and measures to preserve the mental health of workers, offering a Psychosocial Support Program with recommendations for companies and organisations:
- Provide workers with the necessary resources to deal with this situation in the most appropriate way;
- Develop and enhance individual and collective resilience;
- Facilitate initiatives that develop social support within organisations;
- Prepare pills with recommendations to face confinement situations;
- Open a communication channel in any telematic platform (mail, Skype, Zoom or telephone), for the support, resolution of doubts, queries, and additional information;
- Organise individual accompaniment sessions (executive coaching and mentoring), addressed to people with a decision-making role or any member of the organisation whose situation requires it;
- Organise group streaming sessions, creating a virtual space to share good organisational practices and promoting social support of the participants of the program;
- Propose, promote, accompany, and follow up on initiatives that promote social support.
All the actions that Valora Prevención has carried out to give advice to client organisations follow the instructions of the Ministry of Health and have the technical contributions of our experience as a prevention service in risk assessment. Anyway, we expect the massive vaccination of the population to be the most effective solution to eradicate the pandemic.