Coronavirus, containment measures in work environments. Protocol 14.3.20

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Coronavirus. The social partners tonight signed the ‘Shared Protocol for Regulating Measures to Combat and Contain the Spread of Covid-19 Virus in the Workplace’. Preview and ABC.

The Protocol was signed at the invitation of the Prime Minister and the ministers of economy, labor and social policies, economic development and health, who promoted the meeting between the social partners. It is clear to all that two needs need to be balanced:

protect workers with respect to the risk of contracting a highly transmissible and potentially dangerous virus,

prevent the so-called Lockdown from halting the economy in Italy. All the more so given that Italy, it is now clear, can only rely on the support of China but not even that of the Aachen Axis that governs disunited Europe.

Foreword

The continuation of production activities can take place ‘only under conditions that ensure adequate levels of protection for working people’. Trade unions and employer organizations therefore ‘agree as of now on the possible use of social shock absorbers, resulting in the reduction or suspension of work, in order to enable companies in all sectors to apply these measures and the subsequent securing of the workplace.’ Agile work, social shock absorbers, extraordinary organizational solutions.

‘Comparison should be encouraged’ preventive with the trade union representatives present in the workplaces, and for small businesses the territorial representatives (…), so that any measure adopted can be shared and made more effective by the contribution of experience of the people at work, in particular the RLS and RLST, taking into account the specificity of each individual production reality and territorial situations.’

The aim of the protocol is to provide operational guidance aimed at increasing, in non-healthcare workplaces, the effectiveness of precautionary containment measures taken to counter the coronavirus epidemic. ‘COVID-19 represents a generic biohazard, for which equal measures should be taken for the entire population. Therefore, this protocol contains measures that follow the logic of precaution and follow and implement the requirements of the legislature and the directions of the Health Authority’.

Measures in effect until 3/25/20

The Prime Minister’s Decree 11.3.20 requires specific restrictive measures for the containment of COVID-19 to be observed throughout Italy until 25.3.20. For production activities, these measures recommend:

telecommuting, to be used at most for all activities that can be done remotely,
paid vacation and paid leave for employees (‘as well as other tools provided by collective bargaining’), to be incentivized,
Suspension of the activities of departments not essential to production,
– Anti-counterfeiting security protocols. With due adoption of personal protective equipment (PPE) where it is not possible to meet the minimum interpersonal distance of one meter,
sanitization of work premises, ‘including using forms of social buffers for this purpose.’
– maximum limitation of movement within sites, quota of access to common spaces.

13 specific measures were agreed upon by the representatives of the social partners in Protocol 14.3.20. Their analysis follows.

1 – INFORMATION

The production organization shall inform all workers and anyone accessing the premises about the provisions of the Authorities. In the most suitable and effective ways, such as handing out information pamphlets and posting posters, at the entrance and at the most visible locations on the premises. The news to be communicated:
– Prohibition to enter and stay on the farm if dangerous conditions exist (flu symptoms, temperature >37.5° C, coming from risk areas or contact with people positive for the virus in the previous 14 days, etc.)

– duty to stay at home and call the family doctor or health authority, in case of fever (>37.5° C) or other flu symptoms,

– duty to promptly notify the employer if-even at a date after entering the workplace-the above conditions have occurred,

– obligation to comply with the provisions of the Authorities and the organization in the workplace. Maintain a safe distance, observe hand hygiene rules and maintain proper hygiene behaviors.

2 – HOW TO ENTER THE COMPANY

Body temperature monitoring can be imposed before access to workplaces, for staff as well as outside visitors. (1) If the temperature exceeds 37.5°, access to workplaces cannot be allowed. Persons in such a condition-in compliance with the directions in the note-should be momentarily isolated and provided with masks. They will not have to go to the emergency room and/or site infirmaries, but should contact their attending physician as soon as possible and follow his or her directions. (2)

Any person who, in the past 14 days, has had contact with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 or come from areas at risk according to WHO guidanceis precluded from entering the farm. (3)

3 – ACCESS ARRANGEMENTS OF EXTERNAL SUPPLIERS, TRANSPORTERS AND OTHER PARTIES

Access of external suppliers, transporters and other external personnel (e.g. from contracting firms and cooperatives) should be subject to appropriate entry, transit and exit procedures-using predefined methods, routes and times-to minimize opportunities for contact with personnel from the departments and offices involved. Toilet facilities other than those of employees must be dedicated to them, with adequate daily cleaning.

Drivers of transport vehicles should remain in their vehicles if possible. No access to the offices is allowed for any reason. For the necessary preparation activities of loading and unloading activities, the transporter shall adhere to the strict distance of one meter.

Outside visitors should be given as little access as possible. If their entry is necessary (e.g., cleaning and maintenance contractors), they should follow the rules established for the containment of Covid-19 and use the dedicated toilets.

4 – CLEANING AND SANITATION IN THE COMPANY

Daily cleaning at the end of the shift and periodic sanitization with appropriate cleaners of the premises, rooms, workstations (production departments and offices, also paying attention to keyboards, touch screens, mice), common and leisure areas must always be ensured (and recorded, the writer adds).

In the case of the presence of a person with Covid-19 within the business premises, cleaning, sanitization and ventilation shall be carried out, as outlined in Ministry of Health Circular 22.2.20 no. 5443. Special and periodic cleaning operations can be carried out by resorting to social shock absorbers (including on an exceptional basis).

5-PERSONAL HYGIENE PRECAUTIONS

Suitable hand cleansing means should be made available to the people present, who should be advised to take all hygienic precautions. And in particular frequent-as well as thorough-cleaning of hands with soap and water.

The cleaning fluid can be made following WHO guidelines. (4)

6 – PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)

Masks and other personal protective equipment (gloves, goggles, coveralls, caps, gowns, etc.) should be used in accordance with the World Health Organization’s guidelines. (5)

In view of the contingent supply difficulties, for the sole purpose of preventing the spread of the virus, masks corresponding to the health authority’s instructions may be used.

Where the work requires working at interpersonal distances of less than one meter and other organizational solutions are not possible, the use of masks and other mentioned PPE is still required.

7 – MANAGEMENT OF COMMON AREAS (CANTEEN, LOCKER ROOMS, SMOKING AREAS, BEVERAGE AND/OR SNACK DISPENSERS…)

Access to common areas-including company canteens, smoking areas and locker rooms-must come with a quota. With provision for continuous room ventilation, reduced dwell time, safe distance of 1 meter between people.

Spaces should be organized to ensure that they are cleaned daily with appropriate cleaners-especially in cafeterias and vending machine keyboards-and sanitized periodically. Suitable sanitary conditions must also be ensured in the dressing rooms where workers store their work clothes.

8 -BUSINESS ORGANIZATION (remodeling of production levels, shifts, telecommuting and social shock absorbers, travel)

Taking into account the measures adopted in DPCM 11.3.20, point 7 (6) – limited to the period of the emergency due to COVID-19 – enterprises will be able, having reference to the provisions of the CCNLs and thus favoring understandings with company trade union representatives:
– Order the closure of departments other than production (or at any rate those where telecommuting is possible),
– Reshaping production levels,
– ensure a rostering plan for employees dedicated to production to minimize contact and create autonomous, distinct, and recognizable groups
– Use smart working in all possible cases. In the event that social shock absorbers are used, including on an exceptional basis, always consider ensuring that they cover the entire workforce, including appropriate rotations if necessary,
– Priority use of available social shock absorbers in compliance with contractual institutions (par, rol, hour bank) to allow abstention from work without loss of pay. If the use of these institutions is insufficient, the backlog of unused vacation time will be used,

– All business trips and travel (domestic and international) are canceled.

9 – EMPLOYEE ENTRY AND EXIT MANAGEMENT

Entry and exit times should be staggered so that contact in common areas (entrances, locker rooms, lunchroom) is avoided as much as possible.

Entry points to common areas should be provided with cleaners-which should be specially marked-and where possible should be distinguished from exit points (by opening other doors).

10 – INTERNAL TRAVEL, MEETINGS, INTERNAL EVENTS AND TRAINING

Travel within the company site should be kept to an absolute minimum. In-person meetings are not permitted, and only in cases of necessity and urgency, when remote connection is impossible, shall be minimized by ensuring distance between people as well as adequate cleanliness and ventilation of the premises. All internal events and classroom training are suspended and canceled (subject to the possibility of organizing distance learning).

Failure to complete the professional training updates on occupational health and safety-due to the ongoing emergency and thus due to force majeure-does not result in the inability to continue the performance of the specific role/function.

11 – MANAGEMENT OF A SYMPTOMATIC PERSON IN THE COMPANY

If a person present in the company develops fever and symptoms of respiratory infection such as coughing, he or she should report this immediately to the personnel office, isolation should be carried out according to the prescriptions of the health authority and those present. The company immediately notifies the appropriate ASL and the emergency numbers for COVID-19 provided by the region or the Ministry of Health.

The company is working with health authorities to identify close contacts of the person in the company who tested positive for the COVID-19 swab, with a view to implementing quarantine measures. In such a case, the company may ask any possible close contacts to cautiously leave the plant, as directed by the health authority.

12 – HEALTH SURVEILLANCE, COMPETENT DOCTOR, RLS

Health surveillance should continue in compliance with the decalogue of hygienic measures provided by the Ministry of Health. With privileged toward preventive visits, on-demand and return visits from illness.

The competent physician collaborates with the employer and RLS/RLST in integrating and proposing all regulatory measures related to COVID-19. Reports to the company situations of particular frailty and current or past illnesses of employees, whose health protection the company provides while respecting privacy.

13 – REGULATORY PROTOCOL UPDATE

A committee for the enforcement and verification of the established rules is formed in the company with the participation of the company union representatives and the RLS.

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) The thermometer to be used in workplaces, as in all public settings, cannot be the traditional (contact) type, for obvious needs to prevent viral transmission. Therefore, every organization should be equipped with infrared front thermometers, which can measure the temperature on the forehead from a distance
(2) Privacy regulations apply to the processing of personal data on measured body temperature and statements collected for the purpose of preventing coronavirus infection. To this end, it is suggested that:

record the acquired data only if the 37.5°C threshold is exceeded (and this is necessary to document the impediment of access to business premises,
Provide information on the processing of personal data, albeit orally. Due to the purpose of data processing (prevention from COVID-19 contagion, in application of anti-contagion security protocols under DPCM 11.3.20, Art. 1.7.d), data may be retained at least until the end of the state of emergency,
Define the appropriate security and organizational measures to protect data (identify the persons in charge of processing and provide them with the necessary instructions). NB: Data may be processed for the sole purpose of prevention from infection and should not be disseminated or disclosed to third parties outside the specific regulatory requirements (e.g., in case of a request from the Health Authority),
in case of momentary isolation due to exceeding the temperature threshold, ensure confidentiality and dignity of the worker. Even in cases where the worker reports to the personnel department that he or she has had, outside the company context, contact with individuals who have tested positive for the virus
the declaration that they are not from epidemiological risk areas and that they have had no contact in the past 14 days with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 is also subject to the regulations on the processing of personal data. Therefore, it is suggested that only necessary, adequate, and relevant data be collected (no additional information on people who tested positive nor on the specifics of the locations)
(3) Cf. DL 23.2.20 no. 6, Art. 1, letters ‘h’ and ‘i’
(4) Detergent liquid, WHO directions at https://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/Guide_to_Local_Production.pdf.
(5) Use of masks, WHO recommendations at https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks
(6) DPCM 11.3.20, Further implementing provisions of Decree-Law No. 23 February 2020, no. 6, on urgent measures on the containment and management of the epidemiological emergency from COVID-19, applicable throughout the country. (20A01605) (OJ General Series No. 64, 11-03-2020).
Item 7: ‘In order to productive activities and professional activities. it is recommended that:

(a) the maximum use by enterprises of agile work arrangements for activities that can be carried out at home or remotely is implemented,

(b) paid vacation and leave for employees as well as other tools provided by collective bargaining are encouraged,

(c) the activities of company departments not essential to production are suspended,

(d) assume anti-contagion safety protocols and, where it is not possible to respect the one-meter interpersonal distance as the main containment measure, with adoption of personal protective equipment,

(e) workplace sanitization operations are encouraged, including by using forms of social shock absorbers’ for this purpose
(7) The decalogue of hygiene measures offered by the Ministry of Health for the prevention of coronavirus infection, at http://www.salute.gov.it/portale/news/p3_2_1_1_1.jsp?lingua=italiano&menu=notizie&p=dalministero&id=4156

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.