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Viimati uuendatud: 17.04.2020


Occupational health and safety guidelines for preventing the spread of the coronavirus: industry

Download these instructions as a PDF file.

  • In industrial companies, it is reasonable to assess first whether any work can be done remotely. If that is possible, the option should be used as much as possible. 
  • When organising the work, it is necessary to make sure that the employees are not positioned closer than two metres from each other. Review the tasks and processes normally performed by employees in close proximity and, if possible, reorganise work to increase the distance between employees. All employees must keep their distance and any violations should be immediately pointed out. The attitude of the supervisors is important here – they must always react if the rules are not followed. 
  • People working in conventional workplaces need to monitor their health. Their state of health must be assessed honestly – if they show any signs of illness (cough, runny nose, fever, breathing difficulties), they must not come to work and the employer must not ask the employee with signs of illness to continue work. If colleagues notice that their co-worker has any symptoms of illness, the employee must be sent home and asked to contact their family physician or call the family physician advisory line 1220. 
  • If the employee has been in close contact (direct physical contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19, e.g. shaking hands, hugging, coughing, being in the same room with the person for at least 15 minutes and closer to them than two metres, being in a vehicle near a symptomatic COVID-19-positive individual, including sitting in the same row and two rows in front or behind) and informed the employer, they must be sent home for self-isolation. The need for the latter must also be explained to the employee. 
  • The employer must be able to ensure a safe workplace, which is also the expectation of the employee. In the context of the ongoing pandemic, the employer needs to know if there has been a virus carrier in the work environment to implement measures that prevent the virus from spreading. If the employer is unaware that there has been a virus carrier in the workplace, they cannot take action and the virus will spread. It is necessary to gather as much information about employees as necessary but as little as possible. The employer is allowed to ask the employees, whether they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, but the employee has the right to refuse to answer. For the sake of safety and further relations, the employee should still answer this question honestly.  Employees must keep in mind that they may only go to work if they are confirmed to be healthy by their family physician. There is no written confirmation handed out about this. This means, that the employer has no right to restrict the employer from coming to work, if the family physician has declared them to be healthy, but the employee does not have a document confirming this. The family physician confirms the health of the employee by terminating the certificate for the incapacity to work. The employer should consider this as the basis: the certificate for the incapacity to work of a sick or contagious person will not be terminated.
  • Upon being informed that an employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the employer must immediately close to other persons the facilities and the associated public areas where the employee who has been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus has been. The premises may be opened to other persons 48 hours after closing the premises, provided that at least 6 hours have elapsed since properly disinfecting the premises. If it is not possible to identify which surfaces and premises have been contaminated with SARS-CoV-2, the facility must be closed for 72 hours.
  • The premises in which the person with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis has been must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. To clean the surfaces, they must first be washed with a soap solution and then disinfected, paying particular attention to frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles, handrails, etc. The person responsible for cleaning must wear gloves and an apron. If the surfaces are heavily contaminated (e.g. sneezing or coughing marks), face protection (eye, nose, mouth protection) must be worn during cleaning. After cleaning, hands must be washed with soap for at least 20 seconds and the used personal protective equipment must be disposed of in accordance with the COVID-19 waste sorting procedure. 
  • It is not recommended to switch off the ventilation system in industrial companies, even when not working there. The ventilation system must operate at least at 40% capacity. A ventilation system with reduced capacity must be switched to full capacity mode at least two hours before the building or a part of the building is used. If recirculating ventilation systems are used, they must be switched completely to outside air to prevent the possible circulation of viruses through the ventilation system. If the building does not have ventilation systems for indoor climate, the rooms must be thoroughly ventilated. Ventilate at least once an hour and for 15 minutes before the gathering of several people. Room-based recirculating cooling or heating equipment (e.g. fan convector, fan-coil, splitter) must normally be switched off. If the fan heater is running, it must be set so that the fan does not switch off in the meantime. This prevents the virus from accumulating in the filter. 
  • The waste which is likely to be contaminated with the virus, including gloves, cloths used for cleaning surfaces, and protective masks, must be kept separately from other waste in a sealed bag and disposed of as regular domestic waste after 72 hours. 
  • Hand washing and disinfecting products and hand washing instructions must be installed near sinks. Disinfectants must also be provided on staff routes and in rest areas; they should also be provided to possible guests entering the building. Employees must be instructed to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at least every two hours. If hand washing is not possible, an at least 70% ethanol-based hand antiseptic should be used. 
  • Employees must be prevented from touching the same surfaces. Whenever possible, work should be organised in such a way that only one employee uses one tool or device. 
  • The surfaces which are touched by several people (such as railings, door handles, elevators, light switches, keyboards) must be cleaned and disinfected more frequently to prevent the spreading of the coronavirus. Non-work rooms (e.g. changing rooms, toilets, washrooms, canteens) also need to be cleaned more frequently. Toilets and washrooms should be disinfected in addition to cleaning. Cleaning must be carried out by a person with proper training; they also need to have appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g. gloves, goggles, mask). 
  • As the virus will remain on contaminated surfaces for up to 3 days, but can be destroyed by cleaning and disinfection, the persons responsible for cleaning need to be provided with the required cleaning equipment and detailed instructions (incl. cleaning schedules specifying the required frequency) and a training on cleaning the premises and surfaces must be organised. Specific instructions for efficient cleaning of surfaces and ensuring the safety of the employee can be found at bit.ly/terviseamet-puhastamine. If cleaning work is carried out by an external service provider, more efficient and frequent cleaning of surfaces and premises must be agreed upon. 
  • Clothes used at work must not be taken home. If possible, change shoes when you arrive at work. 
  • When organising meetings, you should first consider whether it is possible to carry out meetings online. If this cannot be done, involve as few participants as possible at a time and try to make sure the meetings are short. A distance of two metres must also be maintained between those present. Consider whether the meeting could be held outdoors. If the two-metre distance cannot be ensured, protective masks may be used if possible and necessary. Use the masks only if the employees know how to correctly put on and remove them and if the principles of using a mask safely are followed. 
  • Instructions on how to put on, use, remove, and discard the mask can be found in the WHO guide
  • The times of the breaks, incl. the lunch break, of the employees should also be spaced out, if possible, to avoid the gathering of too many employees in the breakroom, for example, at the same time. 
  • If the industrial company uses shift work, it is advisable to increase the time between shifts so that the workers of the different shifts do not come into contact with each other and so that the non-work rooms can be cleaned between shifts. 
  • If possible, the composition of one shift should stay the same so that the number of people working together is as constant as possible. 
  • Also consider whether the number of guests entering the territory of the company could be reduced. Meetings that are currently not necessary must be cancelled or postponed. 
  • Freight drivers of an external service provider must be informed that they may only leave the cabin of the car when absolutely necessary, for example, to use an outdoor toilet.

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