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E-flash: "New generic guide: Working safely during an epidemic or pandemic"

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On Monday, 7 March 2022, the current generic guide (see (only available in Dutch and French)) will be replaced by the new generic guide (see (only available in Dutch and French)) ‘Working safely during an epidemic or pandemic’ to continue combating COVID- 19 in the workplace.

This new generic guide is different, because the guide not only focuses on the current COVID-19 situation, but also on possible future pandemics and epidemics. 

The guide consists of three phases that can be activated at company level, industry level and government level. Companies can find out which preventive measures need to be taken for each phase.

  1. The vigilance phase : The first phase includes the "basic level of protection", where preventive measures must be taken to control an epidemic or pandemic and/or prevent an outbreak. This phase starts automatically when an epidemic or pandemic is declared by the competent authority and ends 2 months after the end of this epidemic emergency.
  2. The intervention phase : In the second phase, the company will have to take additional prevention measures to control an outbreak (or threat thereof) and/or limit the spread of the virus. In this phase, there are multiple infected individuals (clusters) and outbreaks can occur. 
  3. The critical phase : In the third phase, very strict prevention measures must be taken to slow virus transmission and/or avoid a lockdown or closure of the company.

As of 7 March 2022, the vigilance phase enters into force.

Some takeaways in vigilance phase:

  • The employer must be prepared to create a work organization that allows a maximum number of employees to telework.
  • Emphasize social distancing (at least 1.5 meters). 
  • Provide good ventilation in indoor areas.
  • Point out to workers that wearing face masks is recommended when it is impossible to maintain distance.
  • Sensitize around general hygiene measures e.g. hand washing and provide adequate hygiene resources.