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By Latrishka Thomas

“Do we allow everyone to come back to work all at once?” That is the question that the International Labour Organization (ILO) says all businesses should consider before reopening.

And, according to ILO Caribbean social protection specialist Ariel Pino, the safest option is to reopen in phases.

“The key now is we just need to identify phases and probably if we allow all at once to return to work, the risk will be very high,” Pino stated.

Noting that the world of work is being profoundly affected by the global virus pandemic and the economy is also tremendously impacted as a result, Pino explained that governments, workers and employers play a crucial role in combating the outbreak, ensuring the safety of individuals and the sustainability of businesses and jobs.

He said, therefore, that preventing the resurgence of the pandemic will require the implementation of proper procedures at a policy and organisational level.

“Now, we need to be very agile and we need to be very fast in developing the right guidelines for workplaces and also for the labour departments so that back to business is done in a healthy and safe way,” he remarked.

Pino said that with regard to policies, “the government needs to set the right policies, the right guidelines and support and provide advice to employers and workers”.

And, in the workplace, “you need to understand where the risks are and where are the different hazards in terms of exposure, the probability that it may happen and the impact that they may have, and once you run all these risk assessments then you need to implement different control mechanisms”.

Moreover, according to the protection specialist, the most effective way to prevent further outbreak is by “eliminating risk” and when that is not possible, he said that “using protective equipment” would be a suitable alternative.

In addition, Pino said that employers need to set up clear procedures in terms of hygiene, train the workers to address every matter that comes up in the workplace, and pay attention to context in that “not everyone is in a position to return to work and this is because, for example, schools are closed”.

He added that psychosocial factors and the most vulnerable in the organisation must also be considered.

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