The Slovak Public Health Authority (SPHA) issued new guidelines and recommendations for employers on protective and safety measures to make workplaces as safe as possible and give people the confidence to return to work during coronavirus pandemic.
This new guidance sets out practical steps for businesses that should be implemented as soon as it is possible:
1. Protective masks
Employers are obliged to provide employees with certified protective masks only where there is an increased risk of exposure to biological factors and where it is required by law (e.g. labs, hospitals).
In other cases (e.g. in the office), employers are not obliged to provide protective masks, as they are not considered personal protective equipment. Employees have a general obligation of the employees to wear their own face masks.
2. Cleaning and disinfection
The employer is obliged to provide employees and clients with disinfectants. Hand sanitisers should be available at the entrance to the workplace or building and they should be regularly refilled. In addition, employers must ensure regular disinfection of the floors and contact areas (e.g. handles, desks, keyboards, pushbuttons, elevators, etc.)
Neither the method of disinfection nor disinfectants to be used are specifically regulated, but they must have sufficient virucidal effect (i.e. 0.1 % to 0.5 % of sodium hypochlorite or 70 % ethanol).
3. Personal hygiene facilities for employees
These facilities must be disinfected at least once a day and equipped with:
- running water;
- liquid soap;
- disposable paper towels.
4. Devices, tools and other work equipment
Shared use of devices, tools, and other work equipment (e.g. keyboard, pens, working stations) should be eliminated in favour of individual use. If this is not possible, the number of employees using shared devices and tools should be reduced as much as possible.
5. Social distancing
Employers should ensure working conditions that are protecting employees from the spreading of the Covid-19.
Specific recommendations are:
- to maintain a reasonable distance between employees (minimum distance is set at 2 metres between employees; or employees and clients);
- to reconsider established working processes to increase the distance between employees (e.g. limitation on times when shorter distances are necessary);
- to reduce the frequency and number of contacts with clients (e.g. meeting in separate rooms with a minimum number of participants);
- to consider other measures (e.g. staff rotation, allow a proportion of employees to work from home and another proportion in the office).
6. Online work is preferred and extensive gathering of the employees should be reduced
Where possible, physical contact with clients or co-workers should be limited to a minimum and replaced by online meetings, telephone communication, or other online technologies.
Employers should consider changing established processes (e.g. shortening working time or changing the timing of breaks) to reduce unnecessary gatherings of employees in common areas (e.g. in changing rooms, at the entrance or at the reception).
7. Elevators and AC
The use of elevators should be avoided. If it is not possible, the number of employees/clients should be reduced to a quarter of the capacity of the elevator.
There is a specific guideline for the use of air conditioning. In general, the use of natural ventilation is recommended instead (i.e. opening windows for about 15 minutes, especially if there were more people in the room before).
8. Body temperature measurement and alcohol tests
Measurement of body temperature at the entrance to the workplace is only recommended. Special SPHA guidelines apply.
Employers should always consider the real necessity of alcohol testing and the risks involved. If testing occurs, it must be performed in compliance with all relevant safety and hygiene principles (e.g. use of disposable mouthpieces with a non-return valve; ensuring that the employee will not touch the testing device).
9. Employees with symptoms of Covid-19
Employees with symptoms of Covid-19 should stay at home. If the symptoms occur during working hours, employees must inform a managing employee about it. The employer should set aside a separate room for precautionary purposes (e.g. for isolation of a potentially infected employee until the ambulance arrives).
The full wording of the guidelines in Slovak is available here.