The Ministry of Labor unveils its new health protocol!

01/09/20
The Ministry of Labor unveils its new health protocol!

Applicable from September 1st, 2020, the new health measures, outlined below, will be progressively implemented in all companies, regardless of their size:

 

Wearing a mask

The health protocol reminds us that “masks are systematically worn in the workplace in all enclosed collective areas“. These masks, intended for the general public and preferably reusable, must cover the nose, the mouth and chin at the same time and meet the specifications defined by the AFNOR S76-001 standard. They must be made available to all employees by the employer and changed as soon as they are soiled or wet, and at least every 4 hours.

 

Nevertheless, the wearing of the mask must be combined with other sanitary measures such as the following:

  • The respect of a physical distance of at least one meter between people,
  • Hand cleansing;
  • Application of barrier gestures;
  • Cleaning of the ventilation, aeration of the premises;
  • Management of the flow of people.

 

The permanent wearing of the mask may be waived, i.e. the masks may be temporarily removed at certain times of the day, in certain specific cases outlined below, and as soon as the companies concerned will have conducted an analysis of the risks of transmission of Covid-19 and implemented specific prevention measures.

 

The possibility of applying these derogations depends, however, on the level of virus circulation in the department where the company is located, such as follows:

  • In the so-called “green” zones with low virus circulation, e. with an incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants of less than 10, the mask may be temporarily removed as long as the company has (i) functional ventilation and airing that is maintained, (ii) protective screens between workstations, (iii) visors made available to employees and (iv) the implementation of a policy of prevention and rapid management in the event of symptomatic individuals coupled with the appointment of a Covid-19 referent;
  • In the so-called “orange” zones with moderate virus circulation, i. with an incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants between 10 and 50, the conditions laid down for the so-called “green” zones also apply. Companies located in the so-called “orange” zones must also comply with two additional conditions, since the possibility to derogate from the permanent wearing of the mask is limited to premises with a large volume and high air flow;
  • In the so-called “red” zones, with active virus circulation,e. with an incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants greater than 50, the conditions for the so-called “green” and “orange” zones also apply. Companies located in the so-called “red” zones must also comply with an additional condition, since the possibility to derogate from the permanent wearing of the mask is limited to premises with mechanical ventilation, guaranteeing people a spacing of at least 4m² between each one.

These derogations also depend on the conditions under which the employees carry out their work, in particular :

 

  • In individual offices, wearing a mask is not mandatory;
  • In the workshops, the wearing of masks is not mandatory as long as the ventilation and airing conditions are in conformity, the number of people present in the workshops is reduced, the employees wear a visor and physical distancing is possible;
  • For outdoor work, the wearing of a mask is mandatory in case of grouping or inability to respect physical distances;
  • In places classified as establishments open to the general public, the wearing of a mask is mandatory.

 

Managing the flow of people

 

The protocol insists on the fact that the use of home-working is no longer the norm, but that it should be favored by companies, so as to minimize the number of people using public transportation.

 

In addition, companies must (i) reorganize their workspaces as much as possible and (ii) limit the risk for employees, customers, suppliers and service providers crowding into the workplace by defining a flow management plan.

 

The health protocol sets out some examples of good practices to be promoted in the management of the flow of people, including the following:

 

  • For the entrance of people to the site, turnstiles should be locked to prevent hand contact, and floor markings should be put in place to ensure that physical distances are respected;
  • For the separation of flows, the implementation of a single direction of circulation through floor markings, particularly in the corridors and staircases, or the reorganization of working hours to avoid the arrival of a significant number of employees, customers, suppliers or service providers;
  • Display the barrier gestures within the break areas (coffee machines, time clocks…);
  • Within the offices, encourage the presence of one person per office, avoid the sharing of equipment, organize the cleaning and disinfection of all hand-carried objects, provide for the allocation of a fixed position in open flex, install Plexiglas screens in open spaces, keep the office doors open as much as possible, etc…;

 

The management of symptomatic people and their close contacts.

 

Companies, in conjunction with the occupational health services, must set up a special preventive procedure for the prompt treatment of symptomatic people, including:

 

  • The isolation of the symptomatic person in a dedicated and ventilated room with the wearing of a surgical mask as well as the respect of the barrier gestures and physical distances;
  • Contacting the occupational physician or asking the symptomatic person to contact his or her general physician, as long as his or her condition is not serious, and inviting him or her to return home avoiding public transport;
  • To immediately contact the SAMU, number 15, as soon as the symptomatic person presents signs of seriousness of the illness and to organize the reception of the help if necessary;
  • To contact the occupational health service when the symptomatic person is taken care of, to organize the cleaning and disinfection of the person’s workstation, to identify the employees who have been in contact with the person;
  • If the case of Covid-19 is confirmed, take in charge the employees having been in contact with the person and place them in a fortnight.

 

 

Taking the temperature

 

While taking the temperature of employees at their homes is preferred, monitoring the temperature of people entering their site is not totally prohibited for employers as long as they comply with the regulations in force. In particular, the following must be excluded:

 

  • the compulsory temperature records of each employee or visitor since they would be recorded in an automated treatment or in a paper register;
  • automated temperature capture operations by means of tools such as thermal cameras.

In addition, employees are reminded that they have the right to refuse these controls. If the employer refuses them access to their workstation for this reason, no salary deductions may be made.

 

***

 

All of the health measures described above must be taken jointly with the Social and Economic Committee and employees must be informed of them. In order to guarantee the normative value of these safety measures and to avoid the employer’s liability being incurred, it is however recommended that these measures be recalled in the company’s internal regulations or in a memorandum previously presented to the members of the Social and Economic Committee.

 

De Gaulle Fleurance & Associés lawyers are at your disposal to assist you in the practical implementation of these sanitary measures.

 

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