BERLIN (dpa-AFX) – For the gradual return of more employees to the workplace, uniform rules nationwide should apply to protect against the new corona virus. The Federal Cabinet passed additional binding standards for this on Thursday. If more people moved around in public space, the risk of infection also increased, the Federal Ministry of Labor said. “This requires a high standard of occupational safety, which is dynamically adapted to the pandemic.”
WHAT IS THE CORE ABOUT?
Employees should have as little direct contact as possible at work. This is to be implemented through precautions at the workplace – for example structural changes – and through a reorganization of the work processes.
What should the workplace precautions look like?
It is generally prescribed that a distance of at least 1.5 meters from other people must also be kept at work – in buildings and outdoors. This can be implemented through barriers, markings, access regulations or partitions. Where this is not feasible, employers should provide nose-and-mouth covers for employees and also for customers and service providers. Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) cites as an example the supermarkets that have already installed floor markings and plexiglass panels at the checkouts.
Employers should also set up washing facilities and disinfection dispensers “to enable the necessary frequent hand hygiene”. Company cars are also to be equipped with utensils for hand hygiene and disinfection as well as with paper towels and garbage bags. Shorter cleaning intervals for rooms and company vehicles are also planned.
HOW TO REORGANIZE WORKFLOWS?
It says: Shift changes, breaks or attendances in the office are equalized by suitable organizational measures. If possible, office work should continue to be done in the home office. In break rooms and canteens, tables and chairs should be set apart enough. For construction sites or outdoor operations, the rules provide for “isolated work” or small, permanent teams that should always use the same vehicle whenever possible. Likewise, the same people should always be divided into common shifts as far as possible. Tools should be used personally and otherwise cleaned accordingly.
For employees, the principle also applies: “Never sick to work,” said Heil. Anyone who has symptoms such as mild fever should leave the workplace or stay at home until the suspicion has been cleared up by a doctor.
HOW BINDING ARE THE NEW RULES?
“These rules are binding and must be followed,” says the Minister of Labor, who expects that the vast majority of companies will do so. There should still be random checks. Heil emphasizes, however, that this is about mutually agreed new rules: employers and unions were on board during the development. It is not about burdening the economy with regulatory threats./sam/jr/DP/fba