Occupational health and safety guidelines for preventing the spread of the coronavirus: industry

  • In industrial companies, it is reasonable to assess first whether any work can be done  remotely. If that is possible, the option should be used as much as possible.
  • When organising the work, it is necessary to make sure that the employees are not positioned closer than two metres from each other. Review the tasks and processes normally performed by  employees  in  close  proximity  and,  if  possible,  reorganise  work  to  increase  the distance between  employees.  All  employees  must keep  their  distance  and  any  violations  should  be immediately pointed out. The attitude of the supervisors is important here – they must always react if the rules are not followed.
  • People working in conventional workplaces  need to monitor their health. Their state of health must  be  assessed  honestly  –  if  they  show  any  signs  of  illness  (cough,  runny  nose,  fever, breathing  difficulties),  they  must  not  come  to  work  and  the  employer  must  not ask  the employee with signs of illness to continue work. If colleagues notice that their co-worker has any symptoms of illness, the employee must be sent home and asked to contact their family physician or call the family physician advisory line 1220.
  • If the employee has been  in close contact  (direct physical contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19, e.g. shaking hands, hugging, coughing, being in the same room with the person for  at  least  15  minutes  and  closer  to  them  than  two  metres,  being  in  a  vehicle  near  a symptomatic COVID-19-positive individual, including sitting in the same row and two rows in front or behind) and informed the employer, they must be sent home for self-isolation. The need for the latter must also be explained to the employee.
  • The  premises  in which the person with a  confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis has been must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.  In the meantime, regular operation in these premises must  be  suspended.  We  recommend  to  proceed  from  the  assumption  that  72  hours  is
    currently considered to be the period after which most pathogens are destroyed on physical surfaces.  To  clean  the  surfaces,  they  must  first  be  washed  with  a  soap  solution  and  then disinfected, paying particular attention to frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles, handrails,  etc.  The  person  responsible  for  cleaning  must  wear  gloves  and  an  apron.  If  the surfaces  are  heavily  contaminated  (e.g.  sneezing  or coughing  marks),  face  protection  (eye, nose, mouth protection) must be worn during cleaning. After cleaning, hands must be washed with  soap  for  at  least  20  seconds  and  the  used  personal  protective  equipment  must  be disposed of in accordance with the COVID-19 waste sorting procedure.
  • It is not recommended to switch off the ventilation system in industrial companies, even when not working there. The ventilation system must operate at least at 40% capacity. A ventilation system with reduced capacity must be switched to full capacity mode at least two hours before the building or a part of the building is used. If recirculating ventilation systems are used, they must  be  switched  completely  to  outside  air  to  prevent  the  possible  circulation  of  viruses through the ventilation system. If the building does not have ventilation systems for indoor climate, the rooms must be thoroughly ventilated. Ventilate at least once an hour and for 15 minutes before the gathering of several people. Room-based recirculating cooling or heating equipment  (e.g.  fan  convector,  fan-coil,  splitter)  must  normally  be  switched  off.  If  the  fan heater is running, it must be  set so that the fan does not switch off in the meantime. This prevents the virus from accumulating in the filter.
  • The waste  which is likely to be contaminated with the virus, including gloves, cloths used for cleaning surfaces, and protective masks, must be kept separately from other waste in a sealed bag and disposed of as regular domestic waste after 72 hours.
  • Hand  washing  and  disinfecting  products  and  hand  washing  instructions  must  be  installed near sinks. Disinfectants must also be provided on staff routes and in rest areas; they should also be provided to possible guests entering the building. Employees must be instructed to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at least every two hours. If hand washing is not possible, an at least 70% ethanol-based hand antiseptic should be used.
  • Employees  must  be  prevented  from touching  the  same  surfaces. Whenever  possible,  work should be organised in such a way that only one employee uses one tool or device.
  • The surfaces which are touched by  several people (such as railings, door handles, elevators, light switches, keyboards) must be  cleaned and disinfected more frequently  to prevent the spreading  of  the  coronavirus.  Non-work  rooms  (e.g.  changing  rooms,  toilets,  washrooms,
    canteens)  also  need  to  be  cleaned  more  frequently.  Toilets  and  washrooms  should  be disinfected  in  addition  to  cleaning.  Cleaning  must  be  carried  out  by  a  person  with  proper training;  they  also  need  to  have  appropriate  personal  protective  equipment  (e.g.  gloves, goggles, mask).
  • As the virus will remain on contaminated surfaces for up to 3 days, but can be destroyed by cleaning and disinfection, the persons responsible for cleaning need to be provided with the required cleaning equipment  and detailed instructions (incl. cleaning schedules specifying the
    required frequency) and a training on cleaning the premises and surfaces must be organised. Specific instructions for efficient cleaning of surfaces and ensuring the safety of the employee can be found at bit.ly/terviseamet-puhastamine. If cleaning work is carried out by an external
    service  provider,  more  efficient  and  frequent  cleaning  of  surfaces  and  premises  must  be agreed upon.
  • Clothes used at work must not be taken home. If possible, change shoes when you arrive at work.
  • When  organising  meetings,  you  should  first  consider  whether  it  is  possible  to  carry  out meetings online. If this cannot be done, involve as few participants as possible at a time and try to make sure the meetings are short. A distance of two metres must also be maintained
    between those present. Consider whether the meeting could be held outdoors. If the two- metre distance cannot be ensured, protective masks may be used if possible and necessary. Use the masks only if the employees know how to correctly put on and remove them and if the principles of using a mask safely are followed.
  • Instructions on how to put on, use, remove, and discard the mask can be found in  the  WHO guide.
  • The times of the breaks, incl. the lunch break, of the employees should also be spaced out, if possible, to avoid the gathering of too many employees in the breakroom, for example, at the same time.
  • If the industrial company uses shift work, it is advisable to increase the time between shifts so that the workers of the different shifts do not come into contact with each other and so that the non-work rooms can be cleaned between shifts.
  • If possible, the composition of one shift should stay  the same so that the number of people working together is as constant as possible.
  • Also consider whether the number of guests  entering the territory of the company could be reduced. Meetings that are currently not necessary must be cancelled or postponed.
  • Freight drivers of an external service provider must be informed that they may only leave the cabin of the car when absolutely necessary, for example, to use an outdoor toilet.




Safety guidelines by Labour Inspectorate