India: 6 feet distance for employees in Gurugram

A new way of life and work awaits workers and professionals in Gurugram as the administration has issued a standard operating procedure (SOP) for resuming operations, which includes maintaining six-feet distance, mandatory use of Aarogya Setu app, no overlap of shifts, doing away with cafeterias, mandatory temperature checking, removing door knobs, having a fixed seating plans and marking the floor with squares.

The Gurugram administration has issued the SOP with the caveat that since the district has a unique industrial and workforce mix, owning to its adjacency to Delhi and various NCR cities, the District Administration has decided to go for more stringent measures in a few domains to safeguard the interests of the various stakeholders.

“All organisations should hence always adopt more stringent measures, in case of any disparity among the Central, State and District Administration guidelines”, it said.

Companies and industrial units have been asked to ensure regular deep cleaning and sanitisation of all common areas and touch points using Government of India approved disinfectants. In case of shifts, they have been asked to do this before every shift.

The establishments have been asked to conduct regular drills and trainings of the employees with recommended social distancing of at least six feet among all. They also have to make frequent announcements (using mikes or similar methods) on the work floor, telling the employees to be mindful of their actions.

The administration has said that there should be no overlapping of shifts. A minimum time of an hour should be there between two shifts for cleaning to happen.

Organisations have also been asked not to use biometric attendance systems. The floor of the office should be clearly marked with coloured tape (squares or circles) at every six feet. Employees should be allowed to walk strictly in those squares or circles.

“This will need a lot of reinforcement for everyone to get used to it. Other cues of social distancing should also be used; for instance, mark the edges of the walls and doors with colours such as red (use tape, if necessary) to discourage accidental touching,” the administration said.

A fixed sitting plan should be put in place. The plan also mandates that stairs should be preferred over lifts. Lifts should have maximum as many people facing the walls (with clear markings to stand on the lift floor).

Door knobs and handles should either be removed or handled by dedicated staff, the SOP said.

The plan mandates that daily temperature scans must be carried out at the workplaces. Employees must check their temperature at home too, and should not turn up for work in case of fever or any other symptoms of flu.

“With the ICMR making initial estimates of about 80 per cent Covid-19 patients showing zero to mild symptoms, it will be a big risk to have employees that don”t follow social distancing beyond work and don”t actively promote it in their families, especially with the elderly and children,” the plan said.

It is also mandatory for everyone to use the Aarogya Setu app, as per the plan.

The use of face mask may just be the single most differentiating factor in the fight against Covid-19, as per the plan. “Your employees may find it inconvenient, may say that they only took it off for a moment and may even complain of headaches, but this is simply not negotiable”, the guidelines said.

It would augur well if an organisation provides face masks to its employees. Use of recyclable cloth masks should be encouraged.

Companies have also been asked to use technology to beat Covid-19. It will be good to invest in automatic doors and sanitiser dispensers, the SOP said.

Window/split ACs with HEPA-based air purifiers and exhaust fans are better than centralised ACs to manage Covid-19 risk. “If your office can manage this, it will be a worthwhile investment,” the plan said.

“For job works requiring collaboration that would interfere with social distancing, redesign the production flow, even if it adds to production time substantially,” the administration has said.

Employees can even travel on feet or by their own vehicles (one person per vehicle). In rare circumstances, a driver may be permitted for a car, provided there is an impermeable barrier between the driver and the passenger and the AC is not switched on.

Inter-state or inter-district travel of employees is not allowed (except for essential services, where also it is rationed), as per the SOP.

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