A detailed workplace cleaning and disinfecting COVID-19 protocol has been developed for the public service, and it is already in use by some departments.
Director General, Human Resource, Ministry of Public Service, Gail Atkins, made the disclosure yesterday, as she made a presentation on Safe Work; Safe Environment; Safe People, during the Learning and Development Directorate’s Webinar, in which 250 officers participated.
Ms. Atkins explained that the protocol would give direction on a number of areas, including how to clean frequently touched surfaces, for example, doorknobs, tabletops, counters, light switches, elevator buttons, faucets, among others.
“We will give you information on approved cleaning substances for sanitizing and disinfecting the workplace and direction on the frequency of cleaning. We have attached checklists to the protocol, which would be used by the janitorial and housekeeping staff to monitor the cleaning of various areas, whether lunchroom, bathroom facilities or general areas.
“However, I want to encourage all of us as public officers to maintain an appropriate level of sanitization at our own individual workstations.
Though we know that there is staff assigned to do the cleaning and sanitizing, we want to impress upon you that this is going to be a shared responsibility going forward. We all have a role to play in safeguarding our personal protection and safety,” she stressed.
The Director General said this renewed focus on the issue of safety and safe work had been brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
She added that the serious impact of the pandemic had compelled the Ministry of Public Service to review what was being done in the workplace pertaining to hygiene standards, as public officers gradually return to their offices.
She stated that significant focus would also be given to managing social interaction in the workplace.
In this regard, she pointed out that many of the protocols devised by the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health and Wellness would be utilized to ensure there were no risks of COVID-19 infections in the office.
Ms. Atkins reminded public officers that they must wash their hands and sanitize them regularly throughout the day; clean their individual workstations with the relevant cleaning materials; practise physical distancing; wear face masks; and remain at home if they feel unwell.
The Ministry of Public Service, she noted, was proposing flexible working arrangements and outlined those being considered as: flexi-time, which some agencies are already operating under; staggered hours; telecommuting; and compressed work.
She said the Ministry had been looking at the flexible work arrangements since the end of 2018. “The focus on flexible working arrangements begun in an effort to modernize the operations in Government.
However, it is recognized now that flexible working arrangements could be a useful option in assisting to keep us safe, and promoting safety in the workplace.
“We expect that this policy will result in a number of gains within the public service …. Flexible work arrangements would also be a benefit, in terms of reduced employee tardiness and absenteeism as well as improved performance and productivity. It may also ensure our clients and customers can access services beyond the standard workday,” she stated.