The Government, Ministry of MSME, has come out with COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for MSMEs at the workplace for registered MSMEs. These guidelines are issued for small enterprises to prevent transmission of the coronavirus among employees and workers. The SOP for MSMEs applies to the current COVID-19 pandemic phase in India (local transmission and limited community transmission), wherein, as per the plan of action, all suspect cases are admitted to isolation facilities.
These procedures are meant to guide and support program officers in monitoring functionality and infection prevention protocols for COVID19 patients. In humans, the transmission of COVID-19 can occur through respiratory droplets (through droplets from coughing or sneezing) or indirectly (by contaminated objects or surfaces). Most people at risk of COVID-19 infection are in close contact with a suspect/confirmed COVID-19 patient and those who care for such patients.
Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for MSMEs
The following are the guidelines issued by the Ministry of MSMEs for the protection of the workers at the workplace are as below:-
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Cleanliness and Proper Sanitization
The government has been mandated sanitizing of the workplace premises. The employers must ensure all the premises, including the following, shall be disinfected thoroughly.
- The disinfection of entrance gates, offices, etc
- The cafeteria, and canteens
- The meeting rooms, open areas available/verandah, entrance gate of the site, other rooms in the building, etc.
- Also, the employers must disinfect all equipment and lifts.
- The washroom, toilet, sink, water points, walls, and all other surfaces
- The employers must provide a transportation facility for the workers coming from outside. The special transportation facility must be arranged without any dependency on the public transport system. Therefore, workers do not have to depend on public transport.
- The vehicles must be allowed to work with 30 to 40% of capacity. Besides, all vehicles and machinery entering the premises must be disinfected by spray mandatorily.
- The employers must provide a mandate facility for touch-free hand wash and sanitization at all common areas, entry, and exit points. Sufficient quantities of all the items must be available for the employees.
- Also, the workplace’s entrance and exit and the premises must be strictly following thermal screening for everyone.
- There has to ban on chewing of Gutka, Tobacco, and spiting shall be strictly prohibited.
- The workplaces must have a 1-hour gap between shifts. The lunch break must also take place in a staggered manner, ensuring the norms of social distancing.
- Workers have to sit at least 6 feet away from each other on job sites and in official gatherings, meetings, or training sessions. The employers must also discourage gatherings of 10 or more people at a time.
- The employers have to ensure that not more than 2/4 persons are allowed using lift altogether (depending on the size of lifts).
- The employer has to encourage the use of the staircase. Also, visit of non-essential visitors must be banned entirely.
- The employers must ensure that all their workers medically insured. Medical insurance must be made compulsory to all workers.
- Hospitals/clinics in the nearby areas, specially authorized to treat COVID-19 patients, should be identified, and a list should be available at the workplace.
Measures to protect the Workers
- Workers should wear masks all the time at the workplace, and they must maintain at least a 1-meter gap from each other.
- Workers must take a separate lunch break to avoid making contact with each other.
- Also, they must wash their hands frequently with alcohol-based sanitizers and soaps.
- Besides, the workers and their families should download the ‘Aarogya Setu’ app for protection against the coronavirus.
- Any of the workers develop symptoms like fever, cough, or difficulty in breathing, or if he falls sick, it must be reported to the nearest health center or the recognized COVID hospital immediately.
Several top industries across automobile, pharmaceutical, and food processing, among other sectors, in the State, have reported COVID-19 outbreak among their workforce. In contrast, the infection has affected workers in micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Hence, the government has intervened and come up with an SOP for MSMEs. It has helped in a few cases, but in a large number of cases, companies have handled the situation on their own.
Nearly 2 months after industries were allowed to function, the unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in problems for both employees and employers. While workers reporting to duty have been anxious over the possibility of contracting the infection at the workplace, employers are grappling with worker absenteeism. Therefore, these guidelines helped the workers and made them comfortable to work normally again in the workplace.
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