MoPH outlines OHS standards for public sector workplaces

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Ministry of Public Health on Thursday outlined guidelines that can be adopted in workplaces in keeping with the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1997 Chapter 99.06.

This comes as Phase Three of the country’s reopening processing is ongoing and public servants are among those who will be returning to work on rotation. Previous measures had mandated that public sector employees work from home to minimise the risk of more persons becoming infected.

In her advice to employers, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Karen Gordon-Boyle noted that they should ensure that junior staff are enabled to follow mandatory norms and standards relating to travel, office layout etc.

With regards to transportation, the DCMO recommended: “whenever circumstances permit employers should facilitate transportation of employees to and from work to reduce the probability to exposure when using public transportation.”

Further, she noted that the entrance to workplaces must have mandatory instructions clearly stating that all persons entering the compound must wear a mask. Without one, they will be unable to enter the building.

Additionally, Dr. Gordon-Boyle advised that “all entrances to public and private workplaces should have screening and hygiene blocks. The screening will entail taking temperatures with the laser thermometer; hygiene blocks should comprise sinks with running water and liquid soap or hand sanitising stations.”

Crucially, employers must have in place policies regarding persons with elevated temperatures – whether they will be referred for further investigation or advised to return home and seek further medical advice.

In the office space, the arrangement should be reconfigured to facilitate social distancing among employees and those visiting the office.

The Public Health Ministry has advised that employers should erect plexiglass or other transparent barriers between staff area and the public and there should be clear demarcations showing six feet distancing either on floors or walls to guide the public.

Dr. Boyle said that employers should:

  • Rearrange office space to facilitate 6 -foot distancing
  • Reduce in-person meetings to barest essentials (technology such as zoom can be used to conduct meetings)
  • Discourage employee congregation (water dispensers, coffee station, dining room and restrooms) lunch period/breaks should be staggered and staff where possible can be encouraged to have lunch at their desks.

The Ministry will also soon advise the Private sector employers and those in the school setting as to how they can prepare their work environment to contain the spread of COVID-19.

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Coronavirus disease spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. We urge citizens to practice good hygiene and social or physical distancing also adhere to the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health, Guyana.