On May 29th, 2020, the Federal Official Gazette [in Spanish: el Diario Oficial de la Federación] published an agreement that establishes specific technical guidelines for the reopening of economic activities. Four authorities issued this agreement: the Ministry of Economy, the Secretariat of Health, the Department of Labor and Social Services, and the Mexican Social Security Institute [in Spanish: la Secretaría de Economía, la Secretaría de Salud, la Secretaría del Trabajo y Previsión Social and el Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social respectively].
1. APPLICATION SCOPE AND OBJECTIVE
These technical guidelines are of general application for all work centers. Their purpose is to establish the specific measures that economic activities must implement – within the framework of the general strategy for the New Normality – to achieve the return or continuity of activities with safe, staggered and responsible work plans prepared by the Secretariat of Health, the Ministry of Economy, the Department of Labor and Social Services, and the Mexican Social Security Institute.
For workplaces to identify the mandatory measures for the return to work or its continuity, four aspects must be considered:
– Activity (essential or non-essential).
– Size of the workplace.
– Health alert level in the workplace’s location.
– Characteristics of the workplace.
Also, measure verification lists are included to help all work centers with the following:
– The identification of the necessary measures to implement.
– Training resources (CLIMSS) and advice from the IMSS. CLIMSS is the IMSS Online courses platform)
– An online mechanism through which essential workplaces must mandatorily self-assess their compliance. Other workplaces may do so voluntarily (obtain a quality label from the Mexican Social Security Institute.)
Due to the diversity of activities and characteristics of the workplaces, the possibility of each economic sector developing specific guidelines on health promotion and protection is taken into consideration, according to the particularities of each sector, which must always use, as a point of reference the content included in these technical guidelines, whose application is mandatory.
2. CONTINUITY STRATEGY OR A RETURN TO ACTIVITIES: A NEW NORMALITY
In order to achieve this New Normality, a process consisting of three stages has been defined.
(Diagram 1. Stages for the New Normality, Federal Official Gazette, May 29th, 2020.)
First stage. May 18th, 2020. It consisted of the start of activities in municipalities that have no reported COVID-19 infections, nor have proximity with municipalities with infections. In those locations, authorization was given for the opening of all work, social, and educational activities.
Second stage. It was carried out between May 18 and 31, and consisted of preparation for the reopening, which involved, on the one hand, the expansion of the list of companies considered essential to include activities such as construction, mining industries, and the ones related to the manufacturing of transport equipment, and on the other, the issuance of the Technical Guidelines for Health Safety in the Work Environment for the early reactivation of these sectors.
In this stage, it was stipulated that the abovementioned sectors adopted and validated protocols, to receive the approval from the Mexican Social Security Institute, and reinitiate activities before June 1st, per the process established for such purpose.
Third stage. June 1st, 2020, marked the reopening of socioeconomic activity through a weekly epidemiological risk traffic light system by regions that will determine health alert levels and define what types of activities are authorized to be carried out in the economic, work, educational, and social environments.
Traffic light alert levels are: maximum, high, moderate, and low, and will be dictated by the federal authorities.
At this stage, all companies may restart operations as long as they implement what is established in the guidelines published in the Federal Official Gazette, and comply with the provisions of the epidemiological risk traffic light system. As such, it will not be necessary to have previous authorization.
In the case of essential companies, they must compulsorily carry out their online self-assessment mechanism.
In the case of work centers in the construction, mining, and transportation manufacturing sectors that have carried out their self-assessment during the period from May 18th to 31, and have the approval of the IMSS, it will not be necessary to carry out their self-assessment again.
3. GOVERNING PRINCIPLES
In the application of these guidelines, the following principles should be considered, which will be necessary for correct decision-making and the successful implementation of plans to return to work:
– Emphasize health and life
– Solidarity and non-discrimination
– Moral economy and productive efficiency
– Shared responsibility (public, private, and social).
(Table 1. Governing principles, Federal Official Gazette (DOF), May 29th, 2020)
4. CATEGORIZATION OF THE WORKPLACE
As previously mentioned, workplaces must consider four aspects to identify what measures must be implemented to comply with the current guidelines: (Diagram 2. Aspects for categorizing workplace, Federal Official Gazette (DOF), May 29th, 2020)
– Types of activities to be carried out. It must be determined if your company is engaged in an essential or non-essential activity. (Table 2. Classification of essential activities, Federal Official Gazette (DOF), May 29th, 2020)
– Level of epidemiological risk in the municipality where the workplace is located. The risk level established for the municipality or population in which they are located must be identified, following the Health Alert System, which entails a locally applied traffic light system that will be updated weekly and consists of four alert levels: red for maximum alert, orange for high alert, yellow for intermediate alert and green for daily alert. (Table 3. Levels of epidemiological risk, Federal Official Gazette (DOF), May 29th, 2020).
– The size of the economic unit that is being represented must be identified to implement the corresponding measures. (Table 4. Size of Economic unit per sector and number of workers, Federal Official Gazette (DOF), May 29th, 2020).
– Internal characteristics. The particular characteristics of the workplace must be identified, considering the following:
a. Personnel in situations of vulnerability or increased risk of contagion for each of the areas or departments of companies and work centers.
b. Personnel who are in charge of caring for minors, older adults, people in situations of vulnerability, or higher risk of contagion.
c. Areas or departments that the workplace has such as offices, warehouses, customer service areas, and common areas.
The correct identification of the workplace characteristics will allow communication and implementation of the appropriate measures to protect personnel, taking into account their physical space and the conditions of vulnerability of working people.
5. GENERAL STRATEGIES FOR THE PROMOTION OF HEALTH AND SANITARY SAFETY IN THE WORKPLACE
Work centers must compulsorily implement the following control strategies to contain the spread of COVID-19, which includes health promotion and protection measures, ensuring that people suspected of contagion stay at home, as well as taking care of the healthy distance in the workplace, control of entry and exit of workers, clients, and suppliers, measures to prevent contagion in the company and use of personal protective equipment.
A.- Health promotion: Involves the orientation, training, and organization of workers to prevent and control the spread of the coronavirus causing COVID-19 in their homes and, very importantly, in social events and during trips in public or private transportation provided by the company.
B.- Health protection: Implementation of healthy distance measures in the workplace, modification of habits to promote a minimum distance of 1.5 meters between people; the decrease in the frequency of meetings, including the adaptation of spaces and work areas to reduce human density in intramural and extramural environments during maximum, high and medium levels.
6. SURVEILLANCE AND SUPERVISION
Actions are established to verify the correct implementation of all the measures in companies or in workplaces, which will be the responsibility of the committee or person designated for these tasks:
7. PROTECTIVE MEASURES FOR AT-RISK POPULATIONS IN WORKPLACES LOCATED IN HIGH OR MODERATE ALERT DESIGNATED REGIONS
Differentiated measures must be implemented to reduce the risk of the vulnerable population, as well as to counteract the possible impacts on workplaces and staff.
Moreover, workplace attendance must be flexible or suspended for those workers who live with or are in charge of minors, elderly persons, and people in situations of vulnerability or higher risk of contagion.
Finally, it should be considered that the processes in which vulnerable personnel participates may be affected, so it must be ensured that the implementation of these measures is not used to discriminate or limit their right to work.
8. HEALTH SAFETY MEASURES IN THE WORKPLACE
The agreement establishes the security measures that must be implemented by the work centers for their continuity or return to work.
In addition to complying with these measures, all essential workplaces must mandatorily self-valuate by utilizing the tool from the website: www.nuevanormalidad.gob.mx. The use of this tool is voluntary for all other places of work, regardless of their size.
From the entry into force of the New Normality on June 1st, 2020, it is not necessary to obtain any prior permission to restart or continue operations, so the self-assessment exercise will be a support tool for companies and work centers and in no case will be equivalent to prior permission for their operation.
The obligation of the work centers is limited to complying with the measures established in the guidelines; therefore, in the event of an inspection by the competent federal authority, they must prove their compliance with said measures.
Health security measures were developed considering the size of the companies: micro, small, medium, and large companies. For this reason, they must be assigned according to their size in order to know which designation applies to them, thus facilitating their compliance. These measures are grouped into lists consisting of four columns: The first is the measure necessary to resume activities. In the following three columns, the committee or assigned person may indicate if the action has already been complied with; otherwise, it must be implemented, and lastly, if the measure does not apply to the workplace. (Table 5. Size of Economic Unit per sector and type of measures to implement, Federal Official Gazette (DOF), May 29th, 2020).
The measures are classified as essential and recommended, to allow employers to weigh the order of their implementation in accordance with the instructions of the federal authority. The work centers will consider that the measures should be fully implemented and that in no way, this classification intends to establish rigid hierarchies regarding their importance.
These measures and the entire content of this agreement are of great importance. We recommend verifying, which are the provisions that are applicable to you. The bulletin of the Federal Official Gazette (DOF) is attached, where you can consult the following tables.
LIST OF MEASURES FOR MICRO AND SMALL BUSINESSES
Table 6. Planning and Surveillance
Table 7. Engineering or structural measures
Table 8. Administrative or organizational measures
Table 9. Personal Protective Equipment
Table 10. Information and Training
Table 11. Health Promotion
LISTS OF MEASURES FOR MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES
Table 12. Planning and Surveillance
Table 13. Engineering or structural measures
Table 14. Administrative measures or organizations
Table 15. Personal Protective Equipment
Table 16. Information and Training
Table 17. Health Promotion
LISTS OF MEASURES FOR LARGE COMPANIES
Table 18. Planning and Surveillance
Table 19. Engineering or structural measures
Table 20. Administrative measures or organizations
Table 21. Personal Protective Equipment
Table 22. Information and Training
Table 23. Health Promotion
Table 24. Management System
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