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22. junija, 2020

NORTH MACEDONIA: Protocol – on preventive measures for all workplaces

The Government has released the Protocol on preventive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which should apply to all workplaces. The integral version of the Protocol is presented below.
The general measures to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 to all workplaces and to all persons in the workplace, i.e. to employers, managers, workers, contractors, clients and visitors, include the following measures:

Hand hygiene

  • Regularly and thoroughly hand washing with soap and water or hand sanitizer with alcohol-based disinfectant before starting work, before eating, often during work shifts, especially after contact with colleagues or clients, after going to the toilet, after contact with secretions, excretions and body fluids, after contact with potentially contaminated objects (gloves, clothes, masks, used paper wipes, waste), immediately after removal of the gloves and other protective equipment and before touching the eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Hand hygiene stations should be set up, such as hand washing stations and hand sanitizer dispensers in prominent workplaces and should be accessible to all employees, contractors, clients or buyers and visitors, together with informative materials for promoting hand hygiene.

Respiratory hygiene

  • Promote respiratory hygiene by all people in the workplace. Make sure there are enough protective face masks and paper towels in the workplace for those employees who have a runny nose or cough at work, as well as trash cans with lids for hygienic waste disposal.
  • In a frequent place, put up promotional material for wearing a protective face mask as well as instructions for their proper use. Inform the workers that if someone is ill that they should not come to work. If a staff member or worker does not feel well while at work, provide a medical mask so that he or she can return home safely.

Physical distancing

  • Introduce measures for maintaining a distance of at least 1 meter between people and avoiding direct physical contact with other people (i.e. hugging, touching, handling), strict control over the external access of parties and contacts in order to maintain regular physical distance (marking floor markings, partitions, etc.).
  • Reduce the density of people in the building, i.e. the physical distance of at least 1 meter between work positions and in the common space, such as entrances / exits, elevators, storage rooms / canteens, stairs, where there may be a gathering or queues of employees or visitors / clients.
  • Reduce the need for physical meetings, i.e. to use teleconference equipment.
  • Avoid grouping by introducing flexible working hours for employees to reduce employee gathering in common areas, such as entrances or exits.
  • Organize or increase the work in shifts or divide the teams, or organize remote work if possible, according to the work process.
  • Postpone or cancel workplace events that involve close and extended contact between participants, including social gatherings.

Reduce and organize work-related trips

  • Cancel or delay trips to regions where there is transmission and an increased number of people with COVID-19 in the community, which are not necessary, provide hand sanitizers for workers who must travel, advise workers to adhere to the instructions in places where they travel and give them information with whom to contact if they do not feel well during the trip.
  • Workers returning from areas where COVID-19 transmission is present should monitor their health and possible symptoms within 14 days and measure their body temperature twice a day, if they do not feel well they should stay home, to isolate themselves and contact their family doctor and epidemiologist immediately.

Regular cleaning and disinfection of the working environment

  • Regular cleaning, using soap or neutral water detergent, as well as mechanical cleaning (brushing, scraping) in order to remove dirt, debris and other materials from the surfaces. After the cleaning process is complete, disinfection is performed to deactivate (i.e. kill) pathogens and other microorganisms on the surfaces.
  • Frequently touched surfaces should be identified as a priority for disinfection (frequently used parts, door and window handles, light switches, kitchen and food preparation areas, bathroom surfaces, toilets and faucets, touch screens on personal devices, keyboards on personal computers and desktops).
  • Disinfection solutions must always be prepared and used according to the manufacturer’s instructions, including instructions for safety and health protection of workers performing disinfection, using personal protective equipment and avoiding interference of various chemical disinfectants.
  • For indoor workplaces, it is generally not recommended to routinely apply the disinfectants to surfaces in the environment by spraying or fogging, because it is ineffective in removing contaminants outside of direct spray zones and can cause eye, respiratory and skin irritation and other toxic effects.
  • For outdoor jobs, there is currently not enough evidence to support spraying or large-scale fumigation recommendations.
  • Spraying people with disinfectants (such as in a tunnel, closed space or chamber) is not recommended under any circumstances.

Communication, training and risk education

  • Provide promotional materials: posters, videos and electronic boards to display messages to raise the workers’ awareness of COVID-19 and promoting safe individual practices in the workplace.
  • Regularly inform the epidemiological service of the regional Center for Public Health in case of risk of COVID-19.

Managing people with COVID-19 or their contacts

  • Workers who do not feel well or have symptoms that correspond to COVID-19 should stay at home, isolate themselves and contact a medical professional or local COVID-19 information line for advice.
  • All workers should monitor their health and measure their body temperature regularly.
  • Measuring of the temperature in the workplace should be considered as an option only in the context of a combination of COVID-19 prevention and control measures in the workplace and together with risk communication.
  • Standard operating procedures for the management of a person who falls ill at work and there are suspicions that it is COVID-19 should be respected, including placing the person in an isolation room, limiting the number of people who have contact with him, use of personal protective equipment and subsequent cleaning and disinfection.
  • It is mandatory to contact the regional epidemiologist and keep records of attendance at meetings to facilitate contact monitoring.
  • People who have been in close contact with a person with a laboratory confirmed COVID-19 at the workplace, after the assessment made by the local epidemiologist should stay in home isolation, for a period of 14 days from the last contact with that person.