Karachi, April 19, 2020: The government has announced Standards Operating Procedures (SOPs) for workplaces and industry in wake of Coronavirus. In view of the spread of corona virus and resulting disease (Covid-19) and deaths worldwide and also due to increasing number of cases in Pakistan as well as in Sindh the Government of Sindh passed orders from time to time under the Sindh Epidemic Diseases Act 2014 (The Sindh Act VIII of 2015).
In this regard, the Home Department, Government of Sindh imposed restrictions on all activities save essential services / office / industry. Whereas, the threat of Corona virus spread has still not vanished and the restrictions on social distancing and precautionary measures are still required to be in place.
Whereas, there is also a need to balance such restrictions viz a-viz economic effects of such ban and restriction on the movement and gathering of people and to provide for economic activities within these restrictions.
Now, therefore in exercise of powers Under Section 3(1) of the Sindh Epidemic Diseases Act 2014 (The Sindh Act VIII of 2015) and in continuation of earlier orders of even number dated 24 April 2020, the Government of Sindh issues following SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) to be adopted by the persons and businesses-concerns that are specifically permitted to operate during the Covid-19 pandemic that the spread of corona virus and resulting disease and deaths are prevented.
The objective of these SOPs is to ensure that all activities that are permitted to be carried on during the Covid-19 Pandemic (related to food/Agriculture, Medicine/Health, and such other related activities declared as essential for day to day life during this Pandemic or such other activities/operations that have been specifically allowed through an order by the Government) are carried on in a manner that ensures prevention of the spread of Corona Virus / Covid-19.
The essential steps required to prevent the spread of Covid-19 is the physical distancing between the persons at all the time with over three feet distance in between. That all the objects/items that are at public places or frequently used or touched by different people are disinfected with proper Covid-19 disinfectant solution and wiped clean after every use, as well as, cleaning/disinfection of work place.
These SOPs relate to only those activities/operations that have been specifically allowed through an order by the Government during the Covid-19 emergency. Within these permitted activities/ operations these SOPs are applicable to all such individuals, business / workplaces etc. (including offices, shops, sale point, manufacturing/processing units, factories, mills, stores / warehouses or any place of business and work etc. as per applicable clauses related to them) as well as persons engaged therein (including Owners, CEOs, Heads, Managers, Site Manager, Sellers/Contractors, Workers/ staff, Customers etc as far as is applicable to them) who are all required to follow the directions / instructions as related to them and there shall be no exception.
A: General directions
- No person is otherwise allowed to come out at any public place, without any valid reason (exception include persons for permitted businesses, Services and for seeking medical assistance / treatment).
- Travelling in groups without keeping a distance of over three feet between the individuals is strictly prohibited. Pillion riding on motor bikes is therefore not permitted (except female member of family already living closely in same household).
- No more than two persons to travel in a car. Third person allowed only in case where a sick person being carried requires such an attendant.
- Persons coming out in public places for some necessity must necessarily wear a mask. 5. Adequate arrangements for hand disinfection by use of hand sanitizers (that meet minimum standard of containing at least 70% alcohol) and ideally, where possible, frequent hand washing with soap and water thoroughly washing hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Use tissue paper, and properly dispose off, and sneeze/cough in elbow instead of openly in air.
- All those suffering from flu, flu like symptoms, fever, dry cough and body aches must not visit any public place or any closed premises and must seek medical advice.
- To carry and use hand sanitizers (or preferably hand washing with soap) after touching any open public place item. Special care is taken that while using the ATM Machine / Credit/Debit Card mobile machines, user must wipe the area to be touched with sanitizer before using it and washing /disinfecting hand with sanitizer after such activity.
B: Factory/ Workplace Measures
Any person who is owner, manager, in-charge or person responsible for any premises where general public visits or workers/staff works/perform duties has to ensure following:
- The workers and staff are properly briefed on the Covid-19 and spread of disease and the required precautions against the disease as well as symptoms of the disease and required steps of self-isolation and seeking proper medical advice.
- Display at prominent places the instructions and awareness posters in Urdu, Sindhi and English (as per language commonly read/understood) for workers and staff and at entrance for the visitors/ customers. Where necessary pictorial version of instructions and awareness posters may be used for labour class.
- That the practice of handshake and greetings by physical contact in any manner is actively discouraged among worker/staff. Instead greetings by way of waving hands or bowing or paying respect by folding both hands or placing right hand on the left side of the chest or any other alternate method as per social and cultural norm should be advised.
- Thermal guns are to be provided and used at the entrance to screen the entrants.
- Persons with high temperature or flue like symptoms and cough should not be allowed.
- Entry & Exit points should be properly managed with sufficient staff.
- Sufficient availability of hand-sanitizers or ideally hand washing facility to be ensured at the entrance/ exit gates as well as in the office/workplace for all the staff/workers to use.
- Large industrial units / business concerns to maintain trained medical staff / doctor for screening etc. All such workplaces are required to have a register maintained of ALL the persons (Management, staff, workers labourers weather permanent or temporarily hired etc.) engaged in any form of activity at that premises.
2. Distancing Measures:
- Ensure that only minimal essential staff for the permissible activities/operation is engaged. Further, as far as is possible, engage in an online and work from home mode of operation.
- No employee or worker over the age of 55 is called for work at work places.
- Modify work stations or stagger hours to increase space between staff, visitors and customers/clients. Also determine and display room/hall capacity for persons, keeping in view the over three feet distance required to be kept between individuals.
- Reduce congestion by implementing staggered / phased arrival, departure, and break times. Floor markings and dedicated staff to ensure proper queuing of customers/ workers/ labourers is required so as to ensure proper queuing with distance between the persons. If necessary seating for handicapped may be provided for use by them while waiting like queues at banks / shops.
3. Workplace Cleanliness:
- The workers/staff shall wear masks and hand gloves which are to be ensured in sufficient quantity by the Owner / CEO / Management.
- The items that are touched/ used by multiple users must be wiped clean with proper disinfectant after every use. This includes door handles, copy machines/printers, break rooms, remotes, light switches, telephones, keyboards and machinery/equipment operated by the workers/labourers/staff/customer after every use. Dedicated staff should be deputed for this purpose.
- The floor must on be cleaned regular basis with disinfectant before and after every shift and premises fumigated as required.
- Proper ventilation of work place and all places for workers/ staff/ customers is to be ensured. All the waste from any process is to be probably disposal off and in no case thrown out in open.
4. Other areas / workplaces:
- Ensure that during lunch or other breaks enough space is provided to workers/staff alongwith the floor markings, who should sit at a distance of at-least three feet apart or if the space is small the break be allowed to workers/staff in a phased manner.
- Area must be properly ventilated.
- That Prayer area to have no mats / rugs and only limited persons pray at one time to ensure adequate spacing between them and that the floor is wiped clean before and after every prayer.
- Toilets are to be kept clean and disinfected after use. Dedicated worker be employed to wipe out/ disinfect after every use.
- Canteen/Cooking/Baking places as applicable, to adopt same measures of distancing, including floor markings for those serving as well as those being served and use of disposable gloves, masks and head cover by the cook & serving persons. The utensils will be cleaned after every use. Raw material to be touched & prepared wearing gloves all the time as well as while serving.
- All the factory, mill owners etc. having residence of employees/workers within premises shall ensure similar measures for awareness and ensuring adherence by workers as well as provision of such facilities for cleanliness/disinfection at workers residing places in the facility / premises.
- In large workplace, specially with residential arrangement/area within such place a separate place must be ear-marked for isolation for symptomatic/ suspected individuals for further screening/testing and/or transfer to a health facility for further management/treatment of such lindividual(s).
5. Visitors/ Customers/ Outside packages Control:
- Visitors should be discouraged all times and if unavoidable due to nature of business, a designated visitor meeting room should be established.
- Visitors meeting room shall be disinfected after each visit.
- The packages / items from outside of premises that are of optional nature shall be discouraged as far as possible.
- It shall be the responsibility of owner/manager to ensure compliance of above directions, as well as other applicable directions issued by Government from time to time.
- It shall be ensured that all the staff/ persons at the premises, site are properly briefed on the Covid-19 spread, preventive steps/ precautions against the spread of the virus, sign/symptoms etc. and that all the precautionary measures are followed by all present within such premise/site/workplace.
- Necessary instructions / protocols may be prepared in the light of these SOPs for ensuring compliance by all concerned.
- The owner/management shall ensure that if there are any signs symptoms in any of labour/employee of COVID-19, it shall be incumbent upon the owner/management to get that labour/employee screened from the hospital and follow relevant SOPs for suspected cases.
- If the virus spread amongst the worker/labour or community then the owner / management shall accordingly take all necessary measures including suspension of activities till clearance given by Health Authorities. Screening/Testing regime has been notified separately by concerned health authorities who may be contacted for the needful.
- Owner, / CEO shall be responsible for treatment / welfare of worker / laboures / persons contracting the disease and any further action required for control of such spread.
- Random tests for Covid-19 may be conducted by health authorities from time to time. In case, of any positive case and required further testing for other contacts of any positive case the expenses may be required to be borne by the owner/CEO/Management.
C: Transportation of Human Resource
- Whichever business or workplace is allowed to work shall engage/ hire/ contract a vehicle for transporting their employees to and back from workplace or the employees / staff / workers can travel individually on motor-cycle or private cars as instructed under A. General instruction.
- The designated vehicle shall be intimated at the office of the DC, SSP and Labour Department, with detailed description of the vehicle i.e. Make, reg. no., model, capacity and Color. Moreover, the details like Names and CNIC number of Driver and the Passengers is to be logged in register to be maintained for the purpose.
- Only such vehicles for workers shall be allowed to ply on the roads that have been approved by the DC(s) concerned in coordination with the SSP(s) who shall maintain such list.
- Such transport vehicle shall not carry Passengers more than 1/3″ of its maximum capacity for the purposes of ensuring social distancing.
- It shall also be ensured that all the passengers while boarding and disembarking a vehicle, shall maintain well-spaced queue maintaining a distance of over 3 feet / 1 meter all the time.
- It shall be ensured that the passengers sitting in the vehicle are at least 1 meter apart from one another.
- The said vehicle shall be designated with a banner pasted / displayed at a visible place describing the name of company/office/ industry with its location.
- The vehicle shall carry banner with specific instructions related to preventive measures for COVID-19 infection.
- It shall be the responsibility of the organization to ensure that all persons inside the vehicle wear protective face masks all the time while travelling.
- While travelling to and from the factory, the driver shall ensure that doors and windows are opened and vehicle properly ventilated. The vehicle shall be disinfected by using recommended disinfectant spray and washed clean at least once daily.
D: Goods Transportation into a workplace / Industrial Unit etc:
- Raw materials, dissembled parts of machinery and any other material required to be possessed by an industrial unit for a finished product shall be only allowed to enter the industrial unit or premises after the vehicle is completely sanitized and disinfected at the entry point.
- Temperature of the drivers, conductors, loaders and other staff of the vehicle transporting such materials shall be monitored at entry points along with other indicators of COVID-19 that are flu, cough and muscular pain etc.
- No person(s) associated with such vehicles having any or all symptoms of COVID-19 shall be allowed to enter the industrial unit or premises.
- All material/goods received shall be properly sanitized and disinfected before its entry to an industrial unit or premises is granted.
- Seating arrangement of such vehicle amongst the individuals occupying it shall be such that 3 feet distance is maintained. Individuals occupying such vehicles shall wash hands with soap before entry into an industrial unit or premises and subsequently their hands shall be sanitized. Viz Proper head gear, gloves, gown and masks shall be worn by the individuals occupying such vehicles. No person(s) without proper gear shall be allowed entry to industrial unit or premises.
E. Further instructions:
As may be issued by the government for further steps necessary to contain Covid-19 spread.
These SOPs / directions shall be enforceable immediately and shall remain in force till the COVID-19 emergency is specifically declared to be over by an order or this order is withdrawn.
In view of importance of such measures to be fully in place for preventing spread of disease the concerned businesses / activities which are specifically permitted by an order to operate. shall take necessary measures to have all the required arrangements fully in place before starting their operations That the operations shall only be permitted after an undertaking by the Owner / CEO that all the requirements are fully in place and they are engaging in activity that is specifically permitted by the government and that they are responsible that no contravention takes place and that action can be taken under relevant laws in case of any default including closure of such place and that in case there is spread of COVID-19 due to such activity they shall be responsible for treatment / welfare of worker / laboures / persons contracting the disease and any further action required for control of such spread. Such undertaking, along with the detailed particulars all the persons who will be working/present at anytime of the operations, shall be deposited with the concerned DC of area with copies, thereof, to Home, Labour and Industries department.
Any person / owner/manager engaged in any permissible activity/ operation found violating any of the instructions contained in these SOPs shall be liable for action in accordance with law as per section 4 of Sindh Epidemic Disease Control Act 2014. Any business unit/ shop/ store/ manufacturing or non-manufacturing unit found/reported violating the above instructions/Standard Operating Procedures, shall have the permission given to them during Covid-19 emergency suspended immediately and such work places may be closed.
Secretaries of respective departments viz. Industries, Labour, etc. who are entrusted with regulation/control of respective activities/function related to above as well as respective divisional Commissioners are empowered under Section 3(1) of said Act to issue further orders, directions, notices to put this order into effect in letter and spirit and to clarify further for implementation purpose (but not allow what is not permitted or disallow what is permitted). Any action required to be taken under this order may be taken if deemed necessary by taking representative of concerned Industrial Association (to be nominated by the concerned President).
A team of officers / inspectors of administration, industries and labour department duly authorized by Deputy Commissioners or Secretaries concerned may check the place any time for compliance of directions issued by Government. Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner, Labour Officer concerned as well as personnel of Law Enforcement Agencies not below the rank of Inspector Police (or of equivalent rank for other Law Enforcement Agencies are empowered under Section 3(1) of the said Act to take any legal action on any Act in contravention of this order or directions/notices issued there under and including action under Section 188 of Pakistan Penal Code 1860. Further legal action can also be taken under relevant Labour, Industrial and other applicable laws.