FAQ: Working From Office? Here Are Precautions You Must Take

Here’s all you need to know about working from office amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

3 min read
Here’s all you need to know about working from office during coronavirus pandemic.

In its new guidelines on Sunday, 14 February, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that there is a need to respond in a timely and effective manner in case COVID-19 is detected in offices, so as to limit the spread of infection.

So, if you are stepping into your office after a gap of many months, what are the precautions you must take? Here’s what the Centre’s SOP says.

What precautions should I take while at work?

  • Individuals must maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet in common places as far as feasible.
  • Use face covers/masks at all times. They must be worn properly to cover the nose and the mouth. Touching the front portion of mask/face covers should be avoided.
  • Practise frequent washing of hands with soap (for at least 40-60 seconds) even when hands are not visibly dirty.
  • Use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers (for at least 20 seconds) can be made wherever feasible.
  • Respiratory etiquette to be strictly followed. This involves strict practise of covering one’s mouth and nose while coughing/sneezing with a tissue/handkerchief/flexed elbow and disposing off used tissues properly.

Who should be allowed inside office premises?

  • Only asymptomatic staff/visitors shall be allowed entry.
  • Any officer and staff residing in the containment zone should inform the same to the supervisory officer and not go to the office till the containment zone is denotified. Such staff should be permitted to work from home.
  • Advise all employees who are at higher risk, i.e. older employees, and those who are pregnant or have underlying medical conditions, to take extra precautions. They should preferably not be exposed to any frontline work requiring direct contact with the public.
  • All officers and staff/visitors to be allowed entry only if they are wearing face cover/masks. The face cover/mask has to be worn at all times inside the office premises.

What are the other general precautions that need to be taken?

  • Proper cleaning and frequent sanitisation (at least twice a day) of the workplace, particularly of the frequently touched surfaces must be ensured.
  • Meetings, as far as feasible, should be done through video conferencing.
  • Specific markings may be made with sufficient distance to manage queues and ensure physical distancing on the premises.
  • Ensure regular supply of hand sanitisers, soaps and running water in washrooms.
  • Number of people in the elevators shall be restricted, duly maintaining physical distancing norms for which purpose proper marking be made on the floor of the elevators.

What SOPs should be followed in dinning rooms and cafeterias?

  • Mandatory placement of hand sanitisers at the entrance to ensure personal hygiene.
  • Staff to take their temperature regularly and check for respiratory symptoms.
  • Adequate crowd and queue management to be done to ensure physical distancing norms for which purpose markings be made on the floor of cafeteria/canteen/dining halls.
  • Staff/waiters to wear mask and hand gloves and take other required precautionary measures.
  • The seating arrangement to ensure a distance of at least 6 feet between patrons, as far as feasible.

Will there be no COVID cases if all precautions are taken?

Despite taking the above measures, the occurrence of cases among the employees working in the office cannot be ruled out.

The following measures are to be taken in circumstances when one or few people(s) who share a room/close office space is/are found to be suffering from symptoms suggestive of COVID-19:

  • Place the ill person in a room or area where they are isolated from the others at the workplace. Provide a mask/face cover till he/she is examined by a doctor.
  • Immediately inform the nearest medical facility (hospital/clinic) or call the state or district helpline.
  • A risk assessment should be undertaken by the designated public health authority (district RRT/treating physician), and accordingly further advice shall be made regarding the management of the case, his/her contacts and the need for disinfection.

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