The Ghana Employers’ Association (GEA) has entreated its members who may have resumed full operations to return to the shift system and make space for social distancing, as the country is currently experiencing a third wave of COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
In a press statement signed by CEO Alex Frimpong, the GEA urged all employers to revisit and apply, in a strict manner, all the protocols and guidelines outlined by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and National Tripartite Committee (NTC) in order to contain the outbreak.
Current data from the GHS indicate that active cases of the virus are on the rise, hitting 4,551 cases as of July 23, 2021 – and this is largely driven by the new Delta variant. The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) of the University of Ghana, indicated that the Delta variant is characterised by high viral loads and requires a longer duration to disappear from the human system once contracted.
This therefore implies that urgent preventive measures need to be put in place to ensure that this new variant is not transmitted to the large unvaccinated Ghanaian population, the GEA said.
“It suffices to add that employers have a key role to play in containing spread of the virus at the workplace, and failure to pay heed to the current wave may yield consequences which will threaten the business and economic recovery efforts being made,” the statement said.
In order to pragmatically contain spread of the virus, the GEA has asked all employers and businesses to seriously commit to the following protocols and guidelines to prevent infections at workplaces:
Provide adequate facilities (e.g., soap, hand-sanitiser, signage and reminders) and encourage workers, contractors and customers to practice workplace hygiene (e.g., frequent hand hygiene, avoid touching eyes/nose/mouth).
The association has asked for the creation of an enabling environment for physical distancing at the workplace through demarcated intervals of at least one (1) metre.
Employers have been asked to consider the introduction of appropriate shift systems for employees, and allow those who can work from home to do so without compromising standards and productivity where the nature of the business’s operations permits.
Another advice is to reduce physical meetings and events because of the risk that people attending the meeting might expose others to the COVID-19 virus. It is also important at this time to fumigate and disinfect the workplace regularly.
Employers’ have been urged to also constitute safety committees to deal with issues concerning COVID-19. Also, it adds, the Safety Committee should appoint focal persons who willll have the responsibility of liaising with health professionals in the event of an outbreak of the virus.
The GEA is further urging employers to direct workers to stay at home or work from home if they have “flu-like” symptoms (e.g., fever, cough etc.) regardless of travel or contact history.
Also, it says, a change in workplace culture is needed. For example, stopping the shaking of hands, workers taking lunch at own desk or outside rather than in the cafeteria or breakrooms, limiting sharing of food in the workplace, among others.