Worker Morningfuture
Guiding Best Practice 6 July Jul 2020 0640 6 July 2020

Social distancing, face masks and smart working: anti-Covid-19 protocols at work

During the coronavirus emergency in Italy, preparation was already being made for a safe return to the workplace. A protocol drawn up by the Italian government, trade unions and business representatives lays down a set of key guidelines, but companies like Ferrari or Gucci have also added some further measures of their own

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At the height of the lockdown, on March 15 Italy was already preparing to resume business activity. To reopen workplaces safely, the government, trade unions and business representatives drew up a protocol which was integrated with further guidelines at the end of April.

The three parties involved all agreed that the resumption of activity had to be balanced with the need to ensure workplace health and safety, though businesses were given a certain degree of freedom: to minimise the health risks for their workers, companies could reduce or temporarily suspend activity using social welfare mechanisms or smart working.

As business activity resumes in Italy, a set of key measures is valid for every worker: the use of face masks, staggered entry and exit times and a general reorganisation of the workplace to ensure social distancing and allow facilities to be disinfected on a daily basis. The measures are outlined in a 13-chapter general protocol, though some companies have also introduced their own internal guidelines. Here are some examples of what they have done.

Ferrari
Back in February an emergency committee was already at work, supplies of personal protective equipment were being delivered and the house of the ‘Prancing Horse’ was making its own preparations for the second phase in the easing of the lockdown. At the end of April, Ferrari presented its ‘Back on Track’ scheme to reopen the company.

What distinguishes this scheme? It was designed by a pool of virologists and experts with the support of the regional government of Emilia Romagna. Though the production sites in Maranello and Modena reopened using the guidelines agreed with the government and trade unions, thanks to a team of its own experts Ferrari went further and introduced a set of additional measures.

One such measure is the voluntary screening of employees, which has also been extended to their families and suppliers. Additionally, each worker was given the option to download an App providing medical advice to monitor any symptoms of the virus. The App works in a similar way to the government’s ‘Immuni’ platform: if a person tests positive for the coronavirus, their contacts can be traced and steps taken to prevent the spread of infection.

Also worth mentioning is that the company offers its employees medical and psychological support by telephone or in their homes. If tested positive for Covid-19, employees are also covered by a special insurance and provided with accommodation where they can self-isolate and receive the care of doctors and nurses, medical supplies and oxygen for the more serious cases.

A truly far-reaching scheme to guarantee the safety of all its workers, Ferrari’s example has been praised as a blueprint for other industries.

Gucci
The well-known fashion house also reached an agreement to open up again on March 15, with a more specific plan following on April 16 signed by ‘Confindustria Moda’ (the association of companies operating in the fashion sector) and trade unions organisations. During the emergency, the company played a significant role donating two million euro to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, participating in a crowd-funding initiative and temporarily converting production to manufacture face masks.

On April 20, the company reopened its Art Lab workshop in Scandicci near Florence where prototypes are made for leather goods and footwear. Before the first shift started, the whole facility was disinfected and swabs were taken from various surfaces to test for the presence of the virus. Staff attended remote training and information sessions and a specific shift system was introduced to ensure workspaces would not be crowded. In addition to temperature checks on entry, every day each employee is provided with a protection kit containing three face masks, two pairs of gloves and a pair of goggles. Employees were also advised to avoid taking public transport to travel to work and to prevent car-sharing, any worker without their own means of transport is offered the use of a company car.

As shops reopened on May 18, Gucci agreed on a protocol the safety of workers with the trade union Cobas. The measures put in place include plexiglass barriers at cashpoints, four masks per day and goggles for each sales assistant. Virologist Roberto Burioni provided his expertise to the plans and is also running remote training sessions for the prevention of risks related to Covid-19.

Piaggio
Piaggio has also reached an agreement with trade unions to provide the maximum possible health protection for its workers. Production facilities at Pontedera in Tuscany are disinfected on a daily basis and a personal protection kit is provided to every worker. Thermal scanners measure temperatures, hand gel dispensers are available for all workers and smart working is possible for some roles and for workers with underlying health issues.

Consortium of hoteliers in Abano Terme
A group of towns near Padua form the largest spa complex in Europe with 107 hotels and 5,000 employees located in the towns of Abano, Montegrotto and Colli Euganei. The Thermal Study Centre in Abano with the collaboration of Professor Giorgio Palù of the University of Padua and Philadelphia’s Temple University have drawn up a protocol which is to all intents and purposes a white paper.

These the core guidelines designed specifically for the spa hotel industry: disinfection of communal areas and guest rooms, precise instructions for check-in and check-out, social distancing, rules for the use of fitness centres and swimming pools, instructions for treatments such as thermal water inhalations and mud therapy, plus a specific set of rules when there is a suspected case of infection. A strong commitment to safeguard a tourism sector with an annual turnover of 350 million euro.

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