Isolation centers, protocol officers soon required in some workplaces – DTI

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 13) — Some companies will be required to have isolation centers and protocol officers to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, the Department of Trade and Industry announced Thursday.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said these are the latest additions to the health protocols for offices and will be formalized in a memorandum circular on Friday.

Medium- to large-sized companies or those with an asset size of ₱15 million will then be asked to set up isolation facilities with restrooms, Lopez said in a public meeting with local government officials in Cavite province.

These will be used for workers who suddenly exhibit symptoms while at work and could also be the temporary holding area for those who test positive for coronavirus, Lopez said. There should be an isolation center dedicated for every 200 employees, he added.

Micro-enterprises that cannot provide such facilities should coordinate with local authorities in case a worker needs isolation.

Companies should also designate a protocol officer who will monitor and make sure health standards are carried out in the workplace.

Bawat kumpanya, we will now be requiring yung health protocol officer pati ho yung health and safety committee para ho katulong natin, kasama natin sila sa pag-ensure ng compliance ng lahat ng ating protocol,” Lopez said.

[Translation: Every company, we will now be requiring the health protocol officer and health and safety committee to help us ensure compliance with all protocols.

“We will make them responsible,” the Trade chief said, adding that the DTI will hire more people to help the Labor department audit companies for compliance.

Lopez said businesses that fail to observe the protocols will be warned at first, but repeat offenses will lead to temporary closure until the requirements are met.

He also reminded employers that they should coordinate with local governments for the testing of their workers, following concerns raised by mayors that some employees are sent home even after testing positive for the viral illness. This is a huge mistake due to lack of coordination, which the government seeks to address, Lopez said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III advised local chief executives to send a memorandum to the companies under their jurisdiction to order them to report the results of worker’s COVID-19 testing. Duque said this is lawful under the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Concern Act.

The government is tightening rules after reports of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace.

READ: Family gatherings, workplaces new sources of COVID-19 transmission in PH

Other office guidelines include the mandatory wearing of face masks and face shields.

Big companies are required to provide shuttle services for their employees, but face masks and face shields should be worn during the entire ride, and talking and eating are prohibited, Lopez said.

Meanwhile, officials are considering lifting the ban on dine-in in office canteens if there are proper barriers and social distancing, Lopez said. Common smoking areas should remain closed.