The guidelines for the Healthy Continuity of Economic Activities in face of COVID-19 (hereinafter, the “Guidelines”) were published on October 10, 2022 on the www.coronavirus.gob.mx website. This document, prepared by the New Normality Committee comprised by the Departments of Health, Economy, Labor and Social Welfare (STPS), and the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), establishes the specific measures that must be implemented at the national level in all work centers for the continuity of work activities in a safe and responsible manner.
In accordance with Transitory Article Two of the Executive order through which the means of dissemination for the Guidelines for the Healthy Continuity of Economic Activities in face of COVID-19, published in the Official Gazette of the Federation (hereinafter, the “DOF”), it is established on October 07, 2022 that from October 10, 2022 forward, the Executive Order through which the Specific Technical Guidelines for Reopening Economic Activities published in the DOF of May 29, 2020 is revoked.
WHAT DO THE GUIDELINES CONSIST OF?
The Guidelines must be applied at the National level, for all work centers. These Guidelines put an emphasis on health promotion activities in work centers through actions focused on the quest for modifying habits, seeking to reduce the risk of contagion among the population. The actions proposed by the guidelines are listed below:
- Providing general information on SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), its contagion mechanisms, the symptoms it causes and the best ways of preventing infection and contagion of other people.
- Keeping a minimum distance of 1.5 m between people;
- Providing dispensers with 60% alcohol-based solutions, made available to the staff at different locations in the workplace.
- Guaranteeing that rest rooms have sinks and proper conditions for the staff´s personal cleaning.
- Establishing a permanent cleaning and maintenance program in the work center and in any other work-related areas, including those intended for food services, resting and, if applicable, overnight stays, using proper cleaning products to prevent the propagation of the virus.
- If possible, favoring natural ventilation in common areas or the areas with the greatest concentration of personnel in addition to those work areas with a great affluence of personnel. Checking the operation of the ventilation systems, if available, in addition to providing maintenance and filter changes for their proper operation.
- Establishing a training program for directors or managers on actions and measures to prevent and avoid chains of contagion by COVID-19.
The Guidelines state that antigen and RT-PCR tests for SARS-CoV-2 may be carried out at workplaces, with the prior consent of the workers. However, under no circumstances may the workers be forced to take laboratory tests (RT-PCR, antigen or serological) as a requirement for returning to work. Likewise, the Guidelines state that Companies must include and/or adopt a policy for the protection of workers in order to prevent the return to work to be made contingent to tests paid for by the worker.
In regard to vaccination, although it is desirable that all people be vaccinated, it is not a conditioning factor for preventing people from conducting their work activities.
As part of the suggestions, we find the elimination of the use of sanitizing mats and the sanitary filter, and there are guidelines for the use of face masks in open and closed spaces, as follows:
Use of face masks
With a healthy distance of 1.5 m
Without a healthy distance
With a healthy distance of 1.5 m
Without a healthy distance
That is, the use of face masks is not mandatory either in open or closed spaces when a healthy distance of 1.5 meters between workers is maintained. Nevertheless, the Guidelines suggest maintaining the use of face masks in closed spaces that are not ventilated or have poor ventilation. Additionally, it is suggested that people who decided not to be vaccinated or are immunocompromised wear face masks at all times.
There are specific cases that must be evaluated on an individual basis in regard to the use of face masks or lack thereof, as in the case of health care workers and various work positions that are highly exposed to known or suspected sources of SARS-CoV-2, in which N95 face masks, lab coats, eye protection and gloves must be worn.
SUGGESTED ACTIONS IN REGARD TO HEALTH SAFETY MEASURES IN THE WORK ENVIRONMENT
- Planning and surveillance.
The appointment of a committee or person responsible for the correct implementation, monitoring and supervision of the measures for the New Normality within the framework of COVID-19. Said committee or the person in charge must:
- Make sure that the general control strategies are implemented correctly.
- Stay informed of the instructions issued by the federal authority in order to, as applicable, inform the workers about the new measures that are required be implemented.
- Supervise compliance with the cleaning protocols of areas, surfaces, contact objects and common use objects.
- Engineering Measures,
- It is recommended that sinks with soap, water and disposable paper towels or air dryers for hands and trash cans are available at the entrances of and in common areas of the work centers. If no sinks are available at the entrances, then dispensers with 60% alcohol-based solutions could be made available. This measure guarantees that workers who wish to conduct hand hygiene upon arrival at the workplace can do so.
- Restrooms must have sinks in proper operating conditions.
- If ventilation systems are in place at the work center, it must be ensured that they work properly and that filter changes are conducted in accordance with the protocol established by the manufacturer.
- Natural ventilation must be favored in places in which it is possible. If not possible, ventilation systems can be used with proper maintenance, as established by the manufacturer.
- Food and transportation.
- It is recommended that a distance of 1.5 meters between workers is maintained during the consumption of food.
- It is recommended that workers use face masks during their journeys while in transportation to work (from their homes to the workplace and vice versa or on errands), if said transportation takes place in public vehicles, and that they perform hand hygiene using alcohol-based solutions at 60% as a minimum.
- In the event that the company provides personnel transportation, the vehicle must be cleaned before the workers board it.
- Personal protection equipment.
- If required, face masks must be worn properly during working hours, covering the nose and mouth, in accordance with the protocol for the use of face masks established in this document.
- The Promotion of Health, information and training.
- Inform workers on the prevention measures established in the company’s Health Safety Protocol.
- Have a training program for all workers on the actions to be carried out at the work center in order to prevent and avoid chains of contagion by COVID-19; material available at CLIMSS [free online course platform provided by the Mexican Social Security Institute], found at the following link https://climss.imss.gob.mx/, can be used.
- Your Health Safety Protocol must include, in writing and in a clear manner, the concepts of suspected and confirmed case as well as the concept of contact.
- Have an instrument (questionnaire) in place for the identification of symptoms in suspected cases of COVID-19 among workers, in accordance with the operational definition in force.
- Have an instrument (list or census) in place for the identification of work and community contact that includes: Name, date of the last contact at work, names of the contacts, time and place of exposure.
- Establish a policy for the protection of workers in order to prevent the return to work to be made contingent to tests paid for by worker.
For additional information, please contact:
Jimena A. Sánchez Argoytia