Union Government Releases SOPs For Workplace Amid COVID-19

The Union Health Ministry recently issued new Standard Operations Procedure (SOPs) for the Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 in offices.

Some of the points in the released SOPs are:

At the workplace, if one or two cases are reported, the company needs to disinfect the area.

Work can resume after disinfection has been completed as per laid down protocols.

If a larger number of cases are reported at the workplace, the whole block or building should be disinfected before work is resumed.

SOPs for containment zones:

Officers and staff residing in containment zones should inform the same to their supervisory officer and not attend office till the containment zone is denotified. Such staff should be permitted to work from home, the new SOPs stated.

Offices in containment zones should remain closed except for medical and essential services and only those outside would be allowed to open up.

The SOPs stated that only asymptomatic staff or visitors shall be allowed entry, individuals must maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet in common places with the use of face masks all time.

The issued SOP read, “They must be worn properly to cover the nose and the mouth. Touching the front portion of the mask or face cover to be avoided.”

SOP for meetings at work place:

SOPs indicated to conduct video conferencing based meetings.

If meetings are not virtual, there should be less people with proper maintenance of social distancing.

Large physical gatherings continue to remain prohibited as per the SOP.

Entrances of offices should have mandatory provisions for hand hygiene like sanitiser dispensers, thermal screening.

There should be proper cleaning and frequent sanitisation, at least twice a day, of the workplace, particularly of the frequently touched surfaces.

The number of people in elevators shall be restricted, maintaining physical distancing norms for which proper markings should be made on the floor of the elevators.

For air conditioning and ventilation, the guidelines of the Central Public Works Department must be followed and these mention that the temperature setting of all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30° Celsius.

Relative humidity should be in the range of 40-70 per cent, intake of fresh air should be as much as possible and cross ventilation should be adequate.

Cleaning and regular disinfection using 1% of sodium hypochlorite on surfaces, doorknobs, elevator buttons, handrails, benches, washroom fixtures, must be done in office premises and in common areas at least twice a day.

SOPs on physical distancing regarding shops, canteens and cafeterias:

Any shop, stall, cafeteria or canteen outside and within the office premises must ensure physical distancing norms.

Staff should take their temperature regularly and check for respiratory symptoms and must see a doctor if they feel unwell or show flu like symptoms.

Besides, staff and waiters should wear face masks and hand gloves and take other required precautionary measures.

The seating arrangement has to be done to ensure a distance of at least 6 feet.

The Health Ministry said, “Offices and other workplaces are relatively close settings, with shared spaces like workstations, corridors, elevators and stairs, parking places, cafeteria/canteens, meeting rooms and conference halls etc, the COVID-19 infection can spread relatively fast among officials, staffs and visitors.”

However, the SOP stated, if there are any suspected cases of COVID-19, the authority should react immediately in an effective manner.

This would help to contain the spread of the Novel Coronavirus.

The new SOPs to contain the spread of the Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 is in effect from the 15th of February and would be followed across India.

Stay tuned for further updates.


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