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Chile COVID-19: Recommendations for bringing back workers.

Some companies are starting to think about bringing back staff to the workplace over the next weeks or months. It will be important that companies take steps to ensure that employees are protected from a health and hygiene perspective, information is accessible to workers, and that they are being flexible to the situation.  We have provided below some practical tips based on recommendations from the Chilean government. This is a good starting point for companies to think about how these recommendations can be incorporated into their own business considering their specific circumstances.

Ensure the cleanliness and hygiene of the workplace

Cleaning and disinfection of workplaces must be carried out in accordance with the guidelines for the disinfection cleaning process of public spaces and workplaces. Government recommendations are:

  • Maintain clean and ventilated environments. Surfaces and objects must be cleaned regularly: Desks, tables, telephones, keyboards, lockers, water dispensers, among others.
  • Carry out cleaning and disinfection of the vehicle each time workers are transported.
  • Carry out cleaning and disinfection of the staff breakroom after using them.
  • Reinforce the hygiene of the bathrooms in order to avoid the presence of urine, feces, and other bodily fluids residues.
  • Promote and ensure access to handwashing stations for workers, visitors, contractors, and customers.
  • Provide the necessary conditions and tools for frequent handwashing with soap and water.
  • Have alcohol gel solution available permanently for the workers who do not have access to handwashing stations.  
  • Do not share personal protection equipment. Each worker should have their own.

Manage meetings to avoid transmission

Promote non-face-to-face meetings through the use of electronic means. If the face-to-face meeting cannot be replaced by electronic means then the following should be adhered to:

  • Reduce the number of people.
  • Organize it so that the participants are at least 1 meter apart. Have access to hand washing or, failing that, alcohol gel solution.
  • Keep the names, RUTs and phone numbers of meeting participants for at least one month.
  • Clean the place where the meeting was held after it was held.
  • Avoid having food and drinks during the meeting.

Inform workers about COVID-19

Inform workers about possible transmission routes, signs and symptoms, actions to be taken if symptoms appear, preventive measures, use of personal protection elements, if applicable, existing protocols to prevent or reduce the probability of the contagion.

  • Deliver a newsletter of steps to be followed by company in the face of close High-Risk contact with an infected Worker COVID-19.
  • Provide information on general preventive measures to be carried out in the workplace to reduce the risk of covid-19 infection.

Other organizational measures to prevent contagion

  • Establish deferred entry and exit work schedules, to avoid the use of public transport during peak hours.
  • Establish deferred lunch hours to avoid crowds, in case of having a lunch or dining room.
  • Promote the usage of working remotely whenever possible

Conclusion:

As companies have their employees return to work, there is no doubt that the labour office will want to ensure workers safety and rights are respected. Some employees will be particularly concerned about the risks and others may just not understand the importance of simple precautions. It will be critical for companies to make sure they are doing everything they can to protect their workers and ultimately themselves.

The first step companies need to take is that they should decide on how each of the above points can be incorporated into their business given their specific circumstances.

The second step should be updating their employee handbooks with all of the relevant information and making sure that employees have reviewed before returning to work.

The third step will be addressing specific situations that will arise once employees return. Companies may find that they need to make further adaptations or address specific employee concerns. The key to being successful will be ensuring that any concerns by employees are dealt with in a quick and fair manner.

Harris Gomez Group is a Common Law firm, with offices in Santiago, Bogotá, and Sydney. We also have legal teams in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, and Argentina. Over the last 19 years, we have been supporting foreign companies with their growth in Australia and Latin America. Many of our clients are technology companies, service providers and engineering companies that focus on the mining, energy and infrastructure markets.

To better understand how we can support your management team in the Region, please contact Cody Mcfarlane at cmm@hgomezgroup.com