Al Ketbi said: "Since the emergence of COVID-19, the Abu Dhabi Government has taken the lead in issuing proactive measures to mitigate the spread of the virus and enhance confidence in the government’s efficiency and ability to deal with the pandemic’s repercussions. With the decision that allows most workers to return to the workplace, decisive plans and protocols - that consider the health and safety of employees, vendors, customers and their families - have been developed to ensure an overall healthy and safe work environment." Al Ketbi noted that DGS and its affiliated entities will support Abu Dhabi government entities during this transitional period to enable them to perform their duties efficiently, while providing the highest occupational health and safety standards to their employees and customers alike.
Mohamed Hamad Al Hameli, Acting Director General of HRA, reaffirmed the authority’s keenness to provide a healthy work environment for all Abu Dhabi government entity employees. The issuance of the guide is within the authority’s continuous efforts to preserve the health of all employees and their families based on the recommendations of the approved health authorities, while ensuring that government entities continue to provide their services efficiently.
Al Hameli said: "The regulatory procedures mentioned in the guide are in line with the approved international best practices, and focus on setting clear, practical, and easy-to-apply rules for working at workplaces. Employees can perform all the tasks effectively while ensuring that their colleagues are safe and secure. During the coming period, the authority will continue to assess developments in controlling the pandemic, so that preventive guidelines are developed in accordance with the public interest requirements and in coordination with the competent authorities."
During the workshop, Hamad Saeed Al Shibli, Director of Policy and Institutional Development at the HRA, stated that the guidelines applies to all government entities’ employees regardless of their seniority in an organisation, noting that the need to adhere to the rules is to preserve the health of employees, customers, their families and society as a whole. He explained that the department prepared these guidelines based on global recommendations which stressed that social distancing is an effective measure in reducing Covid-19 cases.
He said that the Abu Dhabi Government supports the adoption of modern technologies such as the ALHOSN app, which allows health authorities, through the use of Bluetooth technology, to trace those who come in close proximity to people with confirmed COVID-19 cases. Al Shibli also stressed that the privacy and confidentiality of information for people with confirmed cases will be protected.
Mohammed Al Asri Al Shamsi, Acting Policies and Research Department Manager at HRA, reviewed the procedural details of employees’ presence at the workplace. He stated that the government-specific guidelines include attendance capacity at 35 percent in order to ensure social distancing. A weekly review of the attendance capacity will apply. Al Shamsi said it is up to the government entities to determine which employees will be required to work at their workplace, and that rotational programmes which change between working remotely and at the office can be implemented.
Al Shamsi identified the groups that are most at risk, and excluded them from returning to offices. Employees returning to workplaces will have to adhere to specific procedures, including avoiding meeting rooms. Remote communication is also encouraged, with Al Shamsi noting that all shared office facilities will be closed until further notice.
Al Shamsi added that government entities will continue to provide e-services via all available platforms and receive payments digitally. Vendors and customers will be directed to use the digital services available, and only when necessary, and in adherence to DGS guidelines, will they be able to visit government entities’ headquarters.
Dr. Shereena Al Mazrouei, Department Manager of Health Promotion at Abu Dhabi Public Health Center, ADPHC, reviewed the health aspects of returning to workplaces and stressed that government entities should increase ventilation rates and distances between employees, and set up glass barriers that separate employees from vendors and customers. Furthermore, Al Mazrouei called for the provision of masks, gloves and sanitizers for the use of employees and customers.
Al Mazrouei also reviewed the steps that employees must follow before returning to workplaces in order to ensure their safety and that of others. Employees who have any symptoms of COVID-19, or have family members that show symptoms, must notify management and continue working remotely until they fully recover. They should follow the precautions recommended by the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi and the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre.
He also stated that if any employee tested positive for COVID-19, officials must inform their colleagues of a positive case at their workplace, while maintaining confidentiality.
Matar Al Nuaimi, Director-General of the ADPHC, said that the workshop is in line with the Abu Dhabi Government’s precautionary measures plan of organising re-entry to the workplace in accordance with the best health standards. The plan includes clear and firm health instructions that outline the requirements and procedures to be followed by all entities and employees, ensure the health and safety of employees, preserve what is in the public interest, and increase health awareness to mitigate the spread of the virus.
In accordance with international health standards, ADPHC, in cooperation with DGS, then issued these guidelines that encompass a set of rules including prohibiting the use of biometric fingerprint attendance systems until further notice, measuring the temperature of those entering the workplace – both employees and customers – and ensuring 2-metre social distancing is implemented at all times.
© Copyright Emirates News Agency (WAM) 2020.