DOLE, DTI Releases New Guidelines for COVID-19 Prevention in Workplaces

In time for the re-opening of the economy, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), together, with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) recently issued a new set of guidelines to protect workers from the spread of coronavirus disease.

“This will allow us to reopen the economy safely while we are pursuing all these programs, such as aggressive contact tracing, testing, and treatment of COVID-19 cases,” Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

He added that the new guidelines order employers to provide individual smoking booths and adopt staggered meal schedules to minimize the transmission of the virus in the workplace.

occupational safety and health

The new guidelines

According to the supplemental health guidelines, large- and medium-sized private companies should offer shuttle services and establish a temporary isolation facility for symptomatic employees.

Moreover, workers should be wearing face shields and masks when interacting with colleagues and customers.

Dine-in canteens are allowed, provided that employees observe distancing of at least a meter apart. They are also prohibited from talking with each other.

Furthermore, designated smoking areas must have individual booths. Talking with other people in the smoking area should not be allowed, as well.

The new set of guidelines mandates businesses to strictly observe physical distancing and other applicable health protocols. It also requires reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing for symptomatic employees and their close contacts.

Referral of symptomatic individuals must be coordinated to the nearest health care facility.

However, asymptomatic employees returning to work are not required to take an RT-PCR or antibody-based test.

Employers should ensure strict compliance with the protocols established by the Department of Health and local government units (LGUs).

Lopez said that it was crucial to reboot the economy and understand the added burden for the employees and workers.

“We request for everyone’s full cooperation, as we stress the need to lower the transmission in the workplace,” he added.