Reliable information for health & safety policies is key

The SWP contributed to a radio session in Zimbabwe with various experts on safe workplaces as per international and national occupational safety and health (OSH) recommendations.

The NIR/SWP radio session on OSH came at a crucial time when the government of Zimbabwe has reopened workplace. The session was an appreciated initiative in preparing employers and employees on how to resume work in a safe but still proactive manner. Emphasis was put on the importance of generating workplace engagement through social dialogue.

Employers were encouraged to fully execute their duty of care by providing employees safe workplaces by ensuring that all measures are put in place in accordance to WHO guidelines and state laws. This also includes adhering to OSH requirements to protect employees and prevent further virus spread.

The occupational safety and health concerns related to COVID-19

The COVID-19 impact has generated new measures to ensure business continuity. Interventions places emphasis on employee responsibility to engage, raise awareness and support awareness amongst colleagues that the workplace remains a place of potential risk of infection and that all necessary precautions and protocols must be adhered to.

The importance of COVID-19 as a workplace issue needs to take into consider how the different levels of risk need to be addressed for every workplace station to ensure that there is adequate protection and prevention. These different levels of risks are important to note as they expose not only the individual, but all company staff and carry staggering repercussions to the workplace, families and the communities.

Steps that businesses should take in response to COVID-19

  • To be very organised, systematic and coordinated in ensuring that the health and safety controls are adjusted for each workstation.
  • Review current OSH policies to ensure that response to COVID-19 protocols are incorporated. The policy review and amendments must be guided by international statutes such as the WHO and ILO COVID- recommendations while aligning to local statues and OSH requirements.
  • At enterprise level, agreements to be made in consultation with workers’ committees. The role of social dialogue has in workplace settings is emphasised to ensure that rights and responsibilities are discussed.
  • Conduct internal Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment to ensure that all workplace processes and procedures can be adopted.

Employers have an obligation to provide safe workplaces as per the statutes of providing decent work. These statutes also dictate a right for employees to access correct and current information, a right to be treated with dignity and respect, as well as protection against discrimination in all forms.

Minimum measures at each workplace

Recommendations for minimum mitigating measures:

  • Temperature checks with efficient thermo guns at each workplace entry
  • Provision of adequate hand sanitation materials such as hand washing sites, safe disposal waste bins, and regular disinfection of all workstations,
  • Implement social distancing,
  • Introduction of innovation work styles such as rotational work
  • Correct and consistent use of PPE, ventilation and other measures specific to work site.

Working conditions during COVID-19

Due to the new measures put in place by the government; businesses need to protect employees, customers and other stakeholders in ensuring the continuous efforts to slow down the spread of COVID-19 remain in place.

Employers are encouraged to update their risk exposures and possible routes of transmission as a measure to protect the general population which they are in direct contact with. Businesses are encouraged to update the Emergency Preparedness protocols considering COVID-19 to ensure employee health and wellbeing.

Responsibilities of employers during COVID-19

Employers have a mandate to provide COVID-19 safe workplace which takes into consideration a human rights-based approach which upholds the statutes of providing decent work. These statutes dictate a right for employees to access correct and current information, a right to be treated with dignity and respect, as well as protection against discrimination in all forms.

Employers were encouraged to follow the hierarchy of controls in hazard identification and risk assessment. These assessments must ideally be conducted through considerations suggested through the workplace social dialogue processes, which would have considered HR issues such as increased numbers of absenteeism, sick leave and adjustments which have been made to ensure continuity.

Role of Workplace Committees during COVID-19

Workplace committees are the bridge through which employers and employees can have open discussions about the workplace. These committees can engage with management and employees to ensure a collaboration focused on COVID-19 impact mitigation. The committees are key partners at the workplace for disseminating information to curb the spread of the virus.

Role of employees during COVID-19

Employees must put into practice the workplace OSH policy as they also follow local and WHO guidelines such as; hand hygiene, PPE, cough and sneezing etiquette and social distancing.

Employees have a duty to themselves to ensure that they maintain their own personal health and protection. Each person must ensure that they take adequate steps to reduce risk at their own personal level.

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This executive summary presents the findings from the study “Workplace Cooperation: Finding Practical Solutions in the Colombian Context,” conducted by the Fundación Ideas para la Paz (FIP). The study evaluates the added value of the Swedish Workplace Programme (SWP) dialogue and cooperation model within the Colombian labor market.

Throughout 2022, FIP dedicated efforts to thoroughly understand the SWP model, including its concept, foundations, implementation process, and contributions to the labor market. In 2023, FIP documented the experiences of three companies—SKF Latin Trade, Securitas, and Epiroc—that implemented the SWP model in practice. The study also included face-to-face workshops to gather feedback from various stakeholders including civil society, businesses, government, academia, and international cooperation. The findings suggest that the SWP model has the potential to strengthen labor relations, contribute to decent work, and resolve workplace conflicts in Colombia.

The case studies highlight the importance of collaboration between employers and workers to promote decent work and sustainable development in Colombia. They demonstrate that social dialogue facilitates worker participation in labor decision-making, enhances their representativeness, and promotes cooperation between employers and employees, thus improving labor relations and contributing to the well-being of both employees and companies.

The SWP model is particularly noted for improving workplace relationships and commitment to jointly finding solutions to challenges faced by workers and the company. It empowers workers, enhances leadership, and helps integrate business policies into daily practices, reducing the initial disconnect between management objectives and the day-to-day realities of workers. The study also highlights the model’s capacity to manage conflicts constructively, transforming the perception of conflict as an opportunity for improvement. Structured dialogues deepen understanding of the underlying causes of conflicts, fostering empathy and facilitating effective resolution. This promotes a culture of collaboration and a democratic approach to decision-making, building trust.

Additionally, the model is recognized for enabling workers to make decisions, identify challenges, and propose solutions that impact their well-being, and bridging gender gaps in the workplace. Its inclusive approach adapts to the unique needs and characteristics of each company, promoting a stronger and more diverse organizational culture. It also drives good work performance and productivity by involving workers in problem identification and resolution, as well as in implementing improvements and efficiently identifying ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) risks for companies.

The document identifies the SWP model’s added value in empowering direct interaction among labor stakeholders in Colombia, overcoming historical or cultural reservations, and contributing to the development of stronger labor relations and improved workplace environments in the country.

Challenges and opportunities of the model are also discussed. The study points out the importance of addressing value chain risks, particularly in a global context where corporate clients demand decent work processes and due diligence. It emphasizes the need to integrate SMEs into this process and use anchor companies as drivers of social dialogue throughout the value chain. The role of the state in social dialogue and the importance of highlighting the benefits of the model for adoption across various business sectors are discussed.

The opportunities of the model include raising awareness of human rights in the workplace in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP), to strengthen due diligence, manage risks, promote long-term sustainability, and improve organizational culture. The document also underscores the importance of involving workers in change processes, leveraging their insights for continuous improvement of processes, and fostering innovation opportunities. Lastly, it suggests replicating the model in value chains to address work environment risks and gender biases, involving suppliers and contractors, and integrating the model into corporate policies to strengthen existing programs and transform organizational culture towards resource efficiency and effective participation of employers and workers.