A new international standard on safe working during the COVID-19 pandemic has been established to define best practice on managing safety and health during the pandemic. ISO/PAS 45005,Occupational health and safety management – General guidelines for safe working during the COVID-19 pandemic has been recently released by experts from 26 countries and it is based around the latest information on work practices during COVID-19.
Sally Swingewood, Manager of the International Standards committee that developed the document, told AMSJ that the standard provides practical recommendations on managing any risks arising from COVID-19 and is applicable regardless of an organization’ location or status.
“We recognize that not every business has a dedicated human resources or OH&S function,” she said.
“Therefore, the guidance is practical and appropriate whatever their size, and irrespective of the approach taken to managing the pandemic in their particular jurisdiction.”
The new standard defines related terminology that has surfaced since the beginning of the pandemic in March, such as PPE and what defines PPE in respect of protection against COVID-19. It also provides guidance for organisations on what a COVID-19 Safe workplace should look like.
Importantly it states, that in preparation for safe operation during COVID-19, an organisation should, as a minimum:
- assess all premises, sites or parts of sites, including those that have been closed or partially operating;
- establish arrangements to prevent potentially infectious people from entering the workplace (e.g. by providing information prior to visit or posters stating the people should not enter the workplace with COVID-19 symptoms);
- perform maintenance checks and activities on equipment and systems;
- assess and control risks related to Legionella and other water-related diseases, in order not to introduce other health risks, particularly if water-based systems (including some types of air conditioning) have not been used for a period of time or if the use has been reduced;
- establish enhanced and/or more frequent cleaning and disinfection schedules, (e.g. by increasing the working hours and/or numbers of workers in cleaning roles, and encouraging other workers to clean and disinfect their own work zones and equipment regularly);
- provide enhanced personal hygiene facilities, including additional handwashing stations where possible and hand sanitiser points where this is not possible (including outdoor areas used for work or breaks), ensuring these facilities are accessible to workers with disabilities;
- coordinate and cooperate with other organizations on shared sites, including with contractors, managing agents, landlords and other tenants, ensuring both routine operations and emergency plans are taken into account.
The new standard also defines what action should be taken in an organisation in the event of an employee becoming infected with coronavirus.
The standard defines measures that employers and organisations should take to ensure the safety of other workers who may have come into contact with an infected worker.
It will supplement the ISO 45001 series with specific information in relation to COVID-19 best practices.
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