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Monday, May 25, 2009

DOLE issues guidelines for H1N1 prevention in workplaces

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has issued guidelines on the prevention and control of the influenza A (H1N1) or swine flu in workplaces as it called on employers and workers to immediately put up plant level precautionary measures against the dreadful disease in view of recorded cases of H1N1 infection in the country.


Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said DOLE Department Advisory No. 4, series of 2009, would guide employers and workers in setting up their own preventive measures against H1N1. 


Roque said the social partners and all the other sectors need to be vigilant against H1N1 to prevent its spread and save lives as the country is no longer swine-flu free.


He also said that necessary measures for the prevention and control of H1N1 should be part of plant-level efforts aimed at preventing disruptions that would  undermine workers' productivity and the growth of business and industry in the country.


"H1N1 poses a serious threat on people's lives and the economy as well," the DOLE Chief said as he urged employers and workers to collaborate in setting up preventive measures against the disease.


He said the social partners may delegate a focal person who would be responsible in monitoring and ensuring that the measures are strictly followed at the workplace, adding the DOLE is ready to assist establishments in building the capabilities of their H1N1 focal persons.


The DOLE, he added, would also provide technical assistance in risk assessment, use of protective equipment including a respirator program, and workplace improvements to reduce the likelihood droplet infection and contamination by materials possibly infected by H1N1.


The Labor and Employment Secretary said that in case a worker in public or private sector gets infected with H1N1, the worker may avail of P150,000 medical insurance package in addition to existing company health-care benefits and the PhilHealth coverage. PhilHealth members and their dependents infected with the disease may also avail of PhilHealth hospital benefits amounting to P75,000.


A worker who contracts H1N1 in the performance of his/her work is also entitled to sickness benefits under the Social Security System and employees compensation benefits under PD 626 or the ECC law, Roque said.


DOLE Advisory No. 4 enjoins establishments to regularly provide information about H1N1 including its transmission, disease outcome, and treatment options to their workers.  It also asked employers to monitor the health of their workers particularly those with fever and those who have traveled to countries affected by H1N1.


In the event that a worker is ill or has fever, he/she must be advised to take prudent measures to limit the spread of communicable diseases.  If the worker is suspected as having H1N1, the employer should immediately refer him/her to the company healthcare provider and subsequently decontaminate the work area. H1N1 symptoms include fever, cough, difficulty of breathing, vomiting or nausea, and diarrhea.


The advisory also stresses everyday actions to stay healthy and keep workplaces always clean with disinfectants. Workers are asked to cover the nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing; wash hands with soap and water frequently; spit at proper places; avoid close contact with sick individuals; and increase body resistance by having adequate sleep, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating nutritious food.

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