The obligation to protect the Health and Safety of workers in their labor functions has been present in all countries of the region for years, but one of the lessons that COVID-19 leaves us is that these measures become even more important to ensure the sustainability of the company in a century that will bring great challenges to public wellbeing.

More than ever, companies must foresee and plan for any eventuality that may affect their employees. The reasons are clear. A scientific consensus is that this century will see new diseases for human beings, since more and more populations are coming in contact with wildlife areas and ecosystems that they are not used to, and increasingly, we face extreme weather episodes such as droughts, floods, frosts, and storms due to climate change.

On the one hand, the response to most of these events involves some kind of reorganization of the population. In the case of contagious diseases such as COVID-19, the main measures are social distancing and operating the most segmented and least crowded production lines. In other cases, such as storms, frosts, or floods, the response is usually isolation, shelter, or even evacuation, all involving a certain degree of relocation and change in work routines.

Thus, companies with more opportunities to remain productive in this changing scenario will be those that can envision these events and plan with foresight on how to act when the emergency is inevitable.

This foresight and prompt response are achieved by applying the same measures required by the health and safety protection regulations that are currently in force.  Their application is not only necessary to ensure a company’s stability, but they are also mandatory from a legal point of view. Within these measures are the following requirements:

  • Form an in-house Commission composed of both managers and worker representatives in charge of identifying all the health and safety risks there are present in the company and mitigating them.
  • Devise plans for attending to any emergencies and contingencies that the company may face, as well as internal programs outlining the rules of occupational health and safety that employees are required to follow.
  • Set clear rules on the cleaning and sanitation of work facilities and tools.
  • Apply work distancing policies to all the positions where it is feasible, in compliance with health guidelines that have been issued in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These actions, accompanied by a vigilant approach to identify and mitigate new risks, enable companies to stand strong against one of the biggest challenges they have seen in decades as well as new ones of increasing importance as the 21st-century proceeds.

Autor: Luis Palacios – Lawyer & Environmental Consultant of ZONE, part of BLP´s group of companies