- Simon KiraguKENYANS.CO.KE
As of Sunday, March 16, Kenya had confirmed three Covid-19 cases in the country. The revelation, delivered by President Uhuru Kenyatta during a press briefing, was followed with a number of changes that were to affect, among other things, how Kenyans worked.
In the address, President Uhuru had encouraged companies to let their staff work from home.
"Where possible, government offices, businesses and companies are encouraged to allow employees to work from home with the exception of employees working in critical or essential services," urged the president.President Uhuru Kenyatta issuing an address at Harambee House on Sunday, March 15, 2020.PSCU
Yet, a spot check by Kenyans.co.ke on the morning of Monday, March 16, a day after the president made the appeal, indicated that the vast majority of Kenyans, particularly in Nairobi were still heading to work.
As this remains the status quo, employees are questioning if their workplaces are providing the right amenities to guard them against the virus while they are at work.
The Directorate of Occupational Safety and Health Services (DOSH) provided an occupational safety and health advisory on Coronavirus to guide office policy so as to minimise the risk of infection.
The guide highlighted five key areas that workplaces should focus on.President Uhuru Kenyatta chairing the meeting with key sponsors at State House on March 3, 2020.PSCU
Reduction on Number of Meetings
"The meeting that could have been an email" statement has been vindicated by the coronavirus.
Workplaces are encouraged to focus on social distancing methods of conducting business. This includes communicating through telephones, video conferencing and using the internet as much as possible.
Companies have similarly been encouraged to allow employees to work from home. Alternatively, to let them work flexible hours so as to avoid peak public transport times and crowding in the workplace.Hospital beds at a Coronavirus isolation and treatment facility in Mbagathi District Hospital on Friday, March 6, 2020.Simon KiraguKENYANS.CO.KE
Promotion of Home Stay Policies
The directorate has encouraged home-stay policies for employees. This means that employees are encouraged to stay at home or go to hospital if they are feeling ill.
Employees are also encouraged to have members of their workforce stay at home in case they have a sick family member in the house.
Implementation of Hygienic Practices
Employers have also been placed on the spot in maintaining the highest standard of health in the workplace. One of the ways companies are encouraged to do this is by scheduling hand washing reminders by email.
Companies and businesses have also been asked to provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers when soap and water are not available.
The new policy has additionally requested that magazines and papers be removed from waiting areas and other common areas to reduce the spread of the virus.Two similar 500ml bottles of hand-sanitizer bought at Cleanshelf Supermarket in Ruaka with stickers indicating different prices (Ksh1000 and Ksh950)
Encouraging Safe Food Handling
Businesses are encouraged to strengthen health screening for cafeteria staff as well as their close contacts. This is meant to curb the spread of the virus from those handling food for large numbers of people.
Implementing a Prompt System of Reporting Suspected Cases
DOSH has asked that employers and workplaces report all suspected cases in their workspace.Employers will provide a mechanism through which to record and report suspected incidences to the directorate.
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