How the Swiss government is fighting coronavirus in the workplace

How the Swiss government is fighting coronavirus in the workplace
Photo: THOMAS KIENZLE / AFP
Switzerland has issued an updated set of guidelines for stopping the spread of coronavirus in the workplace.

The guidelines were issued by Switzerland's Federal Office for Public Health (FOPH) on Monday in an attempt to curb the virus spreading, while also encouraging people to continue attending work in order to minimise disruption to the economy. 

The guidelines come in addition to previous suggestions directed at preventing the spread in the general public. These were updated on Wednesday to include six steps to halt the spread, before additional steps were added over the weekend. 

READ: Avoid public transport and nursing homes: Swiss government updates coronavirus advice

As with the general guidelines, the workplace recommendations referred to people who are especially vulnerable to the virus as well as members of the general public. 

Some specific rules have been put in place to protect people in certain professions. In buses in the canton of Zurich, for example, the front door will no longer open in order to reduce the risk of infections to bus drivers. 

Tickets will no longer be available on the bus and doors will open automatically at every stop in order to prevent the need to press the stop button. 

Take care of vulnerable staff

The guidelines call for employers to put in place ‘protective measures for people at special risk’. According to the recommendations, they should be encouraged to “keep their distance” from other employees when at work. 

Especially vulnerable people should be encouraged to work from home. 

“If this is not possible, and if they cannot be given other tasks to do that would make it possible, employers should consider allowing these employees to stay off work for the time being.”

Members of the population who are considered especially at risk of spreading the virus are those aged over 65 or people who have the following diseases: cancer, high-blood pressure, diabetes, respiratory diseases, immune system conditions and cardiovascular diseases.

Relax rules on medical certificates

The guidance has called for employers to be accommodating with regard to medical certificates, only requiring one when people have been absent for five or more days. 

Doing so “will relieve the pressure on doctors and the health system.”

Flexible working locations and flexible times

Employers are asked to try and be flexible with regard to locations, allowing employees to work from home if possible. 

Employers have also been encouraged to allow their workers to arrive at different times so that they don’t need to travel on public transport during peak hours. 

The FOPH has advised people to avoid taking public transport during busy times wherever possible

Inform employees about protective measures

The final recommendation is that employers must inform their employees about which workplace protective measures they have put into place. 

These include complying with general hygiene requirements for workplaces in Switzerland – as well as how the company has sought to implement the above suggestions in the workplace. 

 

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