The President, Occupational Safety and Health Africa Foundation, Mr Ehi Iden, has urged employers of labour to take employees’ safety seriously in order to curb the spread of COVID-19 at workplace and in community.
Iden, in an interview with our correspondent, said there was the need for employers to sensitise their employees through risk communication and education.
“Every organisation can use the NCDC and WHO guidelines buy they can draw from those guidelines to develop their organisational guidelines as it fits into their workplace structure. Paramount among the steps that must be taken to protect employees is risk communication and education.
“Most studies have alluded to the fact that compliance is better when employees understand the ‘what’ and the ‘why’.
What is this pandemic all about? What are the risks it poses to them and their family? What do they stand to lose if they do not take protective measure?
“We are all aware there is no vaccination, neither is there a defined medication for the treatment of COVID-19, we must keep strengthening this communication pattern with all employees and keep updating them as new information emerges,”
He urged employers to certify that workers who were just returning to work were not exposed during the lockdown period.
“For those who have been able to return to work, we must be sure they were not exposed during the lockdown. The exposure could mean cohabitation with someone who came from overseas, possibly a high risk country or having lost a family member, friends or neighbour to COVID-19.
We can at least get these information by making returning employees to fill a pre-return-to-work health assessment form which should be carefully designed to cover all areas as required.
“Employers must also ensure reconfiguration of the work areas happen before employees are made to return to work.
There should also be the need to review the cleaning patterns, frequency of cleaning, introduction of new cleaning solutions and the improved use of PPE by office janitors and cleaners,”
He also advised companies to consider remote working for employees saying this would be part of the ‘new normal.’
“The International Labour Organisation had in the last five years been advocating remote working, it was envisaged that by 2030, there will be a total change in the world or work due to technological advancement.
While the entire world was working towards 2030, COVID-19 struck in 2020, invariably bringing to us some of the contents discussed in the ‘Future of Work’ 10 years earlier than anticipated.
“Employers and employees have always argued the possibility of remote working, but here, we are all left with no choice than to start abruptly even in our state of unpreparedness which has also led to a whole lot of struggle and some obvious health conditions as mental health and ergonomics risk,”