The Safety, Health and Environment National Authority (SHENA) released a Note to Industry (NTI) titled ‘General Advisory for Workplace in response to COVID-19’ yesterday, to provide workplaces across Brunei with general good practices in managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
All principals, employers, occupiers and employees in Brunei Darussalam are reminded to observe the Workplace Safety and Health Order (WSHO) 2009 and take precautionary measures to curb the spread of the virus.
Employers should treat this matter most seriously and are advised to take appropriate control and preventive actions to protect employees from risk of exposure to COVID-19, especially those in the frontline services.
Employers are reminded to conduct risk assessment and improve work procedures to reduce the risk of exposure to their employees and visitors to their workplaces. Employers need to ensure prevention measures are in place in the workplace and identify employees who have been to COVID-19 affected countries, by conducting health surveillance on those employees and sending them to seek urgent treatment if they show symptoms such as fever, cough and breathing difficulties.
Temperature checks for persons at points of entry to office buildings and other establishments is strongly recommended.
Workplace safety and health officer/HSE Representative/HSE Focal Point or relevant health and safety department/unit in the organisation shall promote and communicate necessary information to all communities in the organisation and visitors in combating the spread of COVID-19 through any means such as briefing, posters, intranet communication, etc.
PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF COVID-19 IN YOUR WORKPLACE
Control measures as far as reasonably practicable can be implemented in your workplace to protect your employees, students (in case of educational institution), contractors, visitors, and customers.
Ensure the cleanliness and hygiene of your workplace
This can be done by frequently cleaning surfaces such as desks and tables as well as objects such as door handles, keyboards and telephones with disinfectant.
More frequent cleaning will be applicable in general public access areas such as lifts, pantries, toilets and bin areas.
Promote regular hand-washing by employees, students, contractors, visitors and customers
Put sanitising hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace and make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled.
Communicate and promote hand-washing by displaying posters, announcement through PA system and briefing during workplace event such as meeting, conference, seminar, etc.
Making sure employees, students, contractors, visitors and customers have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water.
Promote temperature monitoring or checks
Put in place arrangements to monitor and check the temperature of persons entering your establishment.
Advise any persons who display signs of above normal temperature to seek professional medical advice.
Promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace
Display posters promoting respiratory hygiene.
Ensure face masks and/or paper tissues are available at your workplaces for those who develop a runny nose or cough at work, along with closed bins for hygienically disposing them.
Consultation upon business trips or non-essential travel plans
Consider putting off non-essential travel plans/business trips.
If a business trip is required, advise employees to consult national travel advice before going on business trip.
Advice to stay home
If the employees, students and contractors develop symptoms of high fever or signs of respiratory infection – such as dry cough or shortness of breath, they should be advised to stay at home (or work from home).
Employers should establish clear guidance to frontline staff on how to handle customers who are unwell.
Frontline workers can advise customers who are visibly unwell to go see a doctor immediately.
If it is necessary to provide urgent services to customers who are unwell, employers should also establish proper procedures to safeguard staff and other customers (for example, having frontline workers wear a surgical mask, and serving these customers separate from other customers).
CONSIDERATION BEFORE, WHILE AND AFTER TRAVELLING
Avoid travelling abroad
Those who are travelling abroad are advised to take precautionary measures and to prioritise personal hygiene practices to avoid risk of infection.
Get the latest on COVID-19 affected areas via https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/ to assess the benefits and risks related to upcoming travel plans.
Keep yourself updated with the latest information from a reputable source, similar to Ministry of Health (MoH) or others.
Avoid sending employees who may be at higher risk of serious illness (eg older employees and those with medical conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung disease) to areas where COVID-19 is spreading.
Make sure all persons travelling to locations reporting COVID-19 are briefed by a qualified professional (eg staff health services, healthcare provider or local public health partner).
Consider issuing employees who are about to travel with small bottles (under 100 centilitre) of alcohol-based hand rub. This can facilitate regular hand-washing.
Encourage employees, students, contractors, visitors, and customers to wash their hands regularly and stay at least one metre away from people who are coughing or sneezing.
Ensure employees and students know what to do and who to contact if they feel ill while travelling.
Ensure your employees and students comply with instructions from the MoH, Brunei Darussalam when they are travelling. Your employees should comply with local restrictions on travel, movement or large gatherings.
Return from travelling:
Refer to the March 5 MoH press-release for all countries affected by the COVID-19 infection. Employers shall ensure employees, students and contractors abide with the necessary actions taken upon their return of travel from countries according to their respective category.
PREPARATION IN A WORKPLACE
Develop a plan of what to do if someone becomes ill with suspected COVID-19 at one of your workplaces.
The plan should cover putting the ill person in a room or area where they are isolated from others in the workplace, limiting the number of people who have contact with the sick person and contacting the local health authorities.
Consider how to identify persons who may be at risk, and support them, without inviting stigma and discrimination into your workplace. This could include persons who have recently travelled to an area reporting cases, or other personnel who have conditions that put them at higher risk of serious illness (eg diabetes, heart and lung disease, older age).
Promote regular teleworking across your organisation. If there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community the health authorities may advise people to avoid public transport and crowded places. Teleworking will help your business keep operating while your employees stay safe.
Develop a contingency and business continuity plan for an outbreak in the communities where your business operates.
PROCEDURES FOR WORKPLACES IN THE EVENT OF A MEMBER OF STAFF BEING DIAGNOSED WITH COVID-19
In the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19 identified in a member of staff, the duty officer from the MoH will inform the relevant Head of Department of the confirmed case of COVID-19 in the workplace.
The principal, employer or occupier should identify a senior officer to be the main focal point between the MoH and the workplace.
The focal point should identify all staff who were in contact with the confirmed case since the date that the case became symptomatic. This includes:
– All staff who share an office space or area if in an open place office;
– Close colleagues and other collaborators;
Staff who shared meeting rooms; and other staff who were in a confined space with the case for greater than 30 minutes duration.
– All identified staff should be sent home, isolate themselves, and advised to await further instructions. Self-isolation is strongly recommended.
The workplace focal point should compile a line list of all workplace contacts with the following information: Name, contact number and identity card.
This list is to be sent to the MoH duty officer and the workplace focal point should await further instructions from MoH on the necessary measures.
These measures may include quarantine and/or presenting themselves to a designated site for testing.
For further information, principals/employers/occupiers and individuals can contact the Health Advice Line at 148 which operates 24 hours daily. All principals/employers/occupiers and individuals are advised to check for the latest updates on the COVID-19 infection at the MoH’s website at www.moh.gov.bn/SitePages/COVID-19.aspx.
SHENA seeks the support of all relevant stakeholders in ensuring Brunei Darussalam is a safe place to work and live.