SAFE RETURN TO WORK

By Lourdes Bishop

In preparation to restart operations and have workers back, companies must comply with the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and the Health Protocol of the Ministry of Labor.

The first step would be to create the Health and Hygiene Committee that must be registered through the Panama Digital website of the National Government.

Records sent to the dirección_inspeccion@mitradel.gob.pa mail will be considered valid until Wednesday, May 27, 2020.

Preparation and Endorsement:

  • Companies with less than 51 workers: The Manager or person in charge of Human Resources.
  • Companies with equal or more than 51 workers: Professional Occupational Health and Risk Prevention;  They may also be engineers with master’s degrees in Occupational Health and Prevention of industrial risks or occupational safety and security.  Additionally, the option is established that it be prepared and endorsed by other professionals who within companies have developed a specialty in occupational health and safety by training.

The development of the process of elaboration and implementation of the plan will not impede the operations, nor the development of the activities.

The inspections will be carried out four months after the operational reactivation of the block concerning the company and for the companies that did not close, the four months will be counted, from the date of reactivation of the first block. Voluntarily, they may be inspected before four months, if they so request.

The documents must be sent in a single file and are as follows:

  • List of workers in general. (Name, ID, title, the area where he works, etc.;
  • Company and workers logbook;
  • Training Record (May include some virtual training before opening);
  • First Aid and Cleaning Brigade (It can be any designated worker of the company or personal cleaning or general services);
  • Ordinary Meeting Records;
  • Registration of Opening Minutes;

The protocol for COVID-19, within the company’s risk prevention plan, shall be presented before the authorities upon future inspection at the workplace (Protocol that must be lifted under Resolution No. 137 of March 16, 2020, and the Guidelines for Return to Normality post-COVID-19 in Panama.

In parallel, it is a good idea to move on with the implementation of the guidelines of the Ministry of Health, of which the first is precisely the creation of the Committee on Health and Hygiene.

The guidelines are five, as follows:

  • Organization of the Special Committee on Health and Hygiene and compliance with health protocols and guidelines.
  • Prevention and control measures (frequent hand hygiene, use of face masks, the physical distance of at least 2 meters in the workplace and public places, protective equipment according to work activity, frequent cleaning and disinfection of surfaces, and handling debris.
  • Establish special schedules and restrictions on the number of people, as well as teleworking modalities.
  • Symptom control of collaborators and clients.
  • Management of occupational stress.

These measures must be implemented with attention to the specific protocol of the economic sector.

Following an inspection by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security Fund, the company may obtain the certification from the Health Authority and subsequently the Seal called Healthy Panama.

Every organization that seeks to comply with Protocols and Sanitary Guidelines evidence the commitment towards the health and wellness of workers.  Additionally, it is a visible proof of solidarity and sanitary responsibility as crucial concerns of your business philosophy.

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