QCOSTARICA – With the start of vaccination against Covid-19 in Costa Rica, some companies are considering the return of their employees to the offices.
With this, they are forced to comply with the legal and regulatory provisions and those indicated in the protocols and sanitary measures established by the Ministry of Health, the Executive Branch, and other public authorities.
In general, businesses are requested to have an Occupational Health and Risk Management Plan in accordance with the characteristics and risks of each work center, business, or activity.
It also proposes to apply the corresponding sector protocol, in order to include actions that prevent the spread of Covid-19.
It is also recommended to maintain teleworking tasks, if the company’s activity allow it.
“The plan or internal measures of each work center must be communicated to the personnel prior to their return to the offices and the personnel must be trained on the measures to be implemented and updated through new training when necessary. We recommend keeping a record of the training,” Lupita Quintero, a specialist in Labor Law at Nassar Abogados, told La Republica, Costa Rica’s business newspaper.
In the event that the company is found not complying with the measures, in the inspections carried out by the Ministry of Health and other competent authorities, it could be sanctioned with the suspension or cancellation of operating permits or the closure of the establishment.
And the responsibility does not only fall on the employer. Decree 42,317 establishes that employees are obliged to abide by the guidelines of the work centers.
In turn, it establishes that the employees who fails to comply with the measures indicated by the employer is exposed to disciplinary sanctions ranging from a reprimand to dismissal without cause (employer responsibility), Quintero said.
The decree specifies that workers must cooperate and participate in programs that seek their training, in terms of prevention and addressing Covid-19.
In addition, maintain constant and strict surveillance of their health, detect symptoms of contagion, and report any situation of risk of contagion that is identified in the workplace.
It also establishes that employees must use, conserve, and take care of the equipment and personal protection elements that are supplied and properly handle bioinfectious waste.
It is important that companies follow the following protocol guide:
- Identify a coordinator and/or workgroup that defines the roles and responsibilities of each person during the preparation and response process for the attention of this alert for Covid-19
- Define the mitigation, containment, and prevention measures applicable to each work center
- Maintain a capacity of 50% and a distance of 1.8 meters between work areas (ie desks, work tables, etc)
- Label and post signage, according to an infographic published by the Ministry
- Train staff in the prevention and management of Covid-19 disease
- Wear and maintain personal protective equipment
- Have a cleaning protocol and log
- Have effective waste management
- Have a protocol for handling suspected and confirmed cases