DOH releases return to work guidelines
QUEZON CITY, June 6 (PIA) — As government eases quarantine restrictions and most industries are allowed to operate, the Department of Health (DOH) has released a return to work guidelines that aims to ensure that minimum health standards are observed as part of the new normal.
During the 6th Leading Forward virtual Town hall Meeting headed by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) DOH Director Beverly Ho in sharing the guideline said that, “the new normal will require a new mindset, we have to let go of our familiar lifestyle, such as spending lunch breaks with a lot of people in a small pantry, or for instance, hugging or kissing on the cheeks when we see friends. We need to incorporate extra precautions.”
To guide the people to transition in the new normal, Dir. Ho has provided practical tips or return to work guidelines as, “it is the biggest challenge that we are facing in the coming days, or the last few days.”
Dir. Ho, first clarified that there is no need to test returning employees on a day to day basis, “testing for COVID-19 do not protect us from the disease, rather, it is the adoption of the practices that actually protect us.”
The Director emphasized, that doctors will only need to check the health status of the employees, and they do not need to conduct tests to them, unless these workers or employers had close contact with a COVID-confirmed patient, he or she will need to secure a certificate of 14-day quarantine completion.
Dir. Ho also reiterated the responsibilities of the employers, including: encouraging the employees to eat balanced diet and adopting healthy eating practices; encouraging the employees to exercise regularly, and provision of opportunities to do this; and for employers to institute activities that will cater to the mental health of the employees.
Aside from all of these, “employers should also put up mechanisms, such as mandating the wearing of masks at all times, imposing regular handwashing and proper hand hygiene, by providing soap in their restrooms, and reminding employees to practice cough etiquette and respiratory hygiene, Dir. Ho added.
Other mechanisms in the office, include temperature and symptoms monitoring, before they can go in the workplace, establishing of a referral network for employees who develop symptoms, enforcement of physical distancing in the office, visual reminders of infection control, regular disinfection of workplace and good ventilation system.
For vulnerable workers or employees, Dir Ho said that “you need to provide workplace accommodation to them, or work from home arrangements,” to ensure that they will not contract the disease.
The DOH has also said that in screening returning employees, they need to watch out for COVID-19 symptoms, including sore throat, body pains, headache, fever and flu-like symptoms.
“When a returning employee inform you that they have the said symptoms within two to 14 days before their scheduled to return to work, he or she should be placed under quarantine,” Dir. Ho said.
Other warning signs are when employees inform you that he or she had a face to face contact with a confirmed COVID patient, took care of a COVID patient, then he or she becomes a suspect, and he or she will have to stay wherever she is to self-isolate.
In addition, employees who have the symptoms for the last 14 days and was cured within a day or two before going back to work, should undergo quarantine for another 14 days. Only those who have no symptoms for the last 14 days should be allowed to get back to the workplace, Dir. Ho added.
“If you will notice, it is both the responsibility of the employers and the employees so that cases will not continuously rise,” Dir. Ho reiterated.
She also said that employees should be honest if they have COVID-19 symptoms, but employees should be able to provide better work arrangements as well. (PIA-IDPD/VQR)