DTI and DOLE’s Interim Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19

Minimum Health Standards in the Private Sector

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) have issued Interim Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19 to assist private institutions that are allowed to operate during the Enhanced Community Quarantine and General Community Quarantine in developing the minimum health protocols and standards in the workplace.

The following safety and health standards, aligned with the minimum public health standards set by the Department of Health (DOH), shall apply to all employers and workers in the private sector:

A. Workplace Safety and Health

  • Increase physical and mental resilience
    • Emphasize to workers the everyday actions to stay healthy such as eat nutritious food, exercise regularly, and have adequate rest;
    • Enjoin companies to provide free medicines and vitamins; and
    • Provide referral for workers needing counseling or presenting with mental health concerns.
  • Reduce Transmission of COVID-19

Prior to entrance in buildings or workplaces

Inside the workplace

  1. All employees and workers shall:
    1. Wear face masks at all times except when eating/drinking;
    2. Accomplish daily health symptoms questionnaire prior to entry;
    3. Have their temperature checked and recorded; and
    4. Spray alcohol/ sanitizer to both hands and disinfect shoes, if practicable.
  2. Equipment or vehicle entering hub operational area must go through a disinfection process; and
  3. Roving officers should instill physical distancing of one (1) meter in areas where there will be long queue.

For any personnel with temperature >37.5°C even after a 5-minute rest, or if the response to questionnaire needs further evaluation, the person shall be isolated in the designated area and not be allowed to enter the premises.

  1. All work areas and frequently handled objects shall be cleaned and disinfected regularly, or at least once every two (2) hours;
  2. All washrooms and toilets shall have clean water and soap;
  3. Sanitizers shall be made available in areas where workers pass;
  4. Workers shall practice physical distancing at minimum one (1) meter radius space (side, back and front) between workers;
  5. Eating in communal areas is discouraged. If eating in individual work area is not possible, employer shall ensure that physical distancing is maintained; and
  6. Canteen and kitchens should be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
  • Minimize contact rate
  1. Alternative work arrangements such as working-hour shifts, work from home, where feasible and on rotation basis;
  2. Prolonged face-to-face interaction between workers and with clients are discouraged and masks shall be worn at all times and not removed;
  3. Meetings needing physical presence shall be kept to a minimum number of participants and with short duration;
  4. Office tables should be arranged to maintain proper physical distancing;
  5. Workstation layout should be designed to allow to unidirectional movement in aisles, corridors or walkways;
  6. Number of people inside an enclosed space and elevators shall be limited;
  7. Use of stairs should be encouraged subject to physical distancing requirements;
  8. Online system for clients shall be highly encouraged; and
  9. Roving officers shall ensure physical distancing and observance of minimum health protocols.
  • Reduce the risk of infection

In the event that a worker is suspected as having COVID-19

In the event that a worker is sick or has fever but is not suspected to have COVID-19

  • Worker shall immediately proceed to the designated isolation area and never remove his/her mask;
  • Clinic personnel attending to the workers should wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPEs) and if needed, should require transport of the worker to the nearest hospital. Company protocols for transport and PCR testing should be in place;
  • Decontamination of workplace
  • Workplace shall be decontaminated with appropriate disinfectant (e.g. chlorine bleaching solution and 1:100 phenol based disinfectant);
  • Work can resume 24 hours after decontamination of work area;
  • Workers present in the work area with suspected COVID-19 worker shall go on 14-day home quarantine. If the suspected worker tested negative, co-workers may be allowed to report back to work.
  • Stay at home and keep away from work or crowds;
  • Take adequate rest and take plenty of fluids
  • Practice personal hygiene to prevent spread of disease; and
  • Seek appropriate medical care if there is persistent fever, difficulty of breathing.

B. Duties of Employers and Employees

Employers’ Duties

Workers’ Duties

  1. Provide necessary company policies for the prevention and control of COVID-19 taken from DOH, WHO and reliable sources of information;
  2. Provide resources and materials needed to keep the workers healthy and the workplace safe (e.g. masks, soap, sanitizer, disinfectant etc.);
  3. Designate safety officer to monitor COVID-19 prevention and control measures;
  4. Enhance health insurance provision of workers;
  5. Where feasible, provide shuttle services and/or decent accommodation on near-site location to lessen travel and people movement;
  6. Enjoin the hiring from the local community; and
  7. Put up a COVID-19 Hotline and Call Center for employees to report if symptomatic, and daily monitoring schemed of suspect employee condition.
  1. Comply with all workplace measures in place for the prevention and control of COVID-19 such as frequent hand washing, wearing of masks, observing physical distancing;
  2. Observe proper respiratory etiquette;
  3. Cough and sneeeze into tissue or into shirt sleeve if tissue is not available;
  4. Dispose used tissues properly; and
  5. Disinfect hands immediately through proper washing with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer immediately after a cough or sneeze.

C. Workplace with Imminent Danger Situation

In workplace where workers are evidently at risk of infection (health-care and other frontline services), the employer shall comply with DOH Memorandum No. 2020-0178: Interim Guidelines on Health Care Provider Networks during the COVID-19 Pandemic, and shall take extra precautionary measures which include strict hygiene and use of personal protective equipment.

D. Most At Risk Workers and Vulnerable Groups

Employers are highly encouraged to allow workers who are >60 years old, or, of any age with co-morbidities or pre-existing illness (hypertension, diabetes, cancer or with immunocompromised health status, or with high-risk pregnancy) to do work from home arrangement.

E. COVID-19 Testing

Employers may test workers for COVID-19. Testing kits used and procured shall be the responsibility of the employer.

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