Covid-19: New National Protocol for the Health and Safety of Employees in Business
The national protocol to ensure the health and safety of employees in business in the face of the COVID-19 epidemic was published in an updated version at the end of January 2021. It complements and clarifies the prevention and protection measures that have been in place for almost a year now. Thus, it recalls the employer’s responsibility to protect its employees. To do so, continued activity in companies must result from an assessment of the risks of exposure to the virus in the first place; and then the reduction or even suppression of risks through preventive measures, preferably collective ones.
Safety of employees in companies, measures resulting from a social dialogue
Then, the employer commits to the proper information of the employees. In addition to the consultations, therefore, the defined protection measures must reach everyone. The company then passes a memo, which is sent to the CSE. As part of the pandemic, these memos can even be added to the internal regulations.
In addition, the employer designates a Covid-19 reference. In small businesses, this referent can be the direct leader. Its role is to ensure compliance with the health protocol, inform teams, or take charge of positive cases and monitor contact cases.
Telework, the rule to ensure the health and safety of employees during Covid-19
As part of the national protocol to ensure the health and safety of employees in business in the face of the COVID-19 epidemic,the government reiterates its desire to encourage telework. TheNational Inter-Professional Agreement (ANI) of 26 November 2020 is also the framework for the implementation of telework.
It stipulates that working from home must become the rule as soon as tasks permit. Thus, 100% of the working time can be carried out remotely if the employee has no reason to go to his place of work. On the other hand, to combat isolation, it is possible to plan a maximum of one day per week in the present.
In any case, if employees need to go to work, the employer is responsible for smoothing the arrival and departure times to limit the number of people in the spaces. Thus, it must ensure compliance with the rule of physical distance. As a reminder, it is necessary to allow at least one meter compared to any other person, or 4 m2 per person.
Of course, in case of working time in the workplace. Gatherings, group meals or even starting pots are not allowed.
Wearing a mandatory mask in business, except in specific situations
The wearing of masks is systematic in companies in enclosed collective places. Thus, it joins the battery of obligatory barrier gestures: physical distance of a minimum meter, washing of houses, cleaning, ventilation, reduction of contact points … It should be noted that if it is impossible to wear the mask, the distance between two employees increases to two meters. Starting with the collective catering spaces.
However, not all masks are allowed. They must, in fact, comply with current standards (2). Thus, the appropriate masks are marked with a small lozenge “consumer mask – filtration guaranteed”. Cloth masks, in particular, are therefore not valid to ensure the safety of employees in companies. Don’t worry about custom masks.
The wearing of masks is also mandatory in company vehicles and in places receiving the public. In all these cases, they are provided by the employer.
On the other hand, it is not in an individual office; in workshops if employees wear a visor and the rules of distance and ventilation are respected; or, outdoors except in cases of grouping without the possibility of social distancing.
Prevention of the risk of manu-carried contamination in the health protocol in business
The employer must also ensure the safety of employees in the company by preventing the risks associated with manu-carry contamination. As such, he is responsible for the regular disinfection of workstations, common objects, contact points. This also applies to sanitary facilities, as well as accommodation provided if needed.
Special vigilance is given to shared objects. Thus, ideally, objects must be individual or dedicated to an employee to avoid transmission of the virus. If this is not possible, disinfection should be guaranteed. In addition, the hands are disinfected before and after the use of these objects.
Depending on the material, it is not always possible to clean each object. In which case, the employer provides in the health protocol a temporary reserve. According to the HCSP opinion of 6 May 2020 on textile materials, this deadline is a minimum of 24 hours.
Symptomatic personnel management procedure
Despite all the preventive measures, there is no such thing as zero risk. Therefore, the employer must pre-emptively draft a procedure for the care of symptomatic persons. This procedure defines the steps to be taken immediately to prevent the spread of the virus. First, the symptomatic employee is isolated in a dedicated room. The wearing of the surgical mask is then mandatory. He must then return home, avoiding public transport if possible. The employer also invites them to contact their gp for screening.
Similarly, the protocol provides for measures to protect potential contact cases. In order to do this, the employer must be able to identify these contacts for the authorities in charge of contact tracing. The easiest way is to use the AllAntiCovid app. Otherwise, the employer relies on the employee’s statements and his or her history of activity in the company.
New national protocol to ensure the health and safety of employees in business in the face of the COVID-19 epidemic, Ministry of Labour, updated on 29 January 2021