Employers must implement a complete Covid-19 mitigation plan to curb the spread of infection at the workplace and prevent the closure of factories and business premises.
Dato’ Dr Neoh Soon Bin, Managing Director of Soon Soon Group of Companies and Director of Lam Wah Ee Hospital, was speaking today at the WOU Shares webinar titled ‘Covid-19 Mitigation at the Workplace’. He highlighted that closing down workplaces will hurt the company’s revenue, reputation and brand name, and the employees’ morale.
He quoted the Ministry of Health statistics from 19-25 February 2021 in which 56 of 66 new clusters, or 85%, were from the workplace. He called for a complete Covid-19 mitigation plan to break the chain of infection at the workplace, remarking strongly, “First set up a high-level Covid-19 task force to deal with the constant changes in regulations and the pandemic situation.”
He continued, “Most companies relegate this task to their safety officer and/or HR department. That is a fatal mistake. It should be headed by senior management and HODs if it is to be effective.” Dato’ Neoh heads the Soon Soon Group’s 26-member taskforce.
He said since many young people do not exhibit symptoms and are potential spreaders, the two most important steps in the mitigation protocol to break the chain of infection are proper close contact tracing and risk assessment programme.
He mentioned the individual close contact daily log at his factories where every employee electronically fills up the form daily on close contacts. “We set up a daily contact tracing for every staff and have four levels of contact tracing and a 14-day risk assessment protocol. Once anyone in the company becomes Category 1 (infected) or 2, we need to retrieve the 14 days records of the individuals.”
He shared the various types of Covid-19 tests namely RT-PCR, RTK-Antigen Test, and the Antibody Test. “RTK-Ag testing is useful if you detect a staff with symptoms as then you can quickly isolate all the close contact in category 2. However, you need to reconfirm with a RT-PCR test.”
Dato’ Neoh spoke on how they manage the air flow and purify the air-conditioning system to prevent the spread of the virus. They increased the air flow to enable 4.5 times fresh air changes per hour in their centralised air-conditioned system to achieve a 90% risk reduction. They also treat the return air using plasmacluster ioniser and UVC light to reduce viral load in the air-conditioning system by more than 99%.
Other measures undertaken are observing the mandated 3Cs and 3Ws, installing desk partitions, alternate sittings, converting large rooms into partitioned smaller offices, closing canteens, limiting people in an enclosed room, relocating staff from one department into other departments to avoid total shutdown of any department, and strictly adhering to the SOPs for the production area, shift changes, transport and dormitories. They also continuously educate and create awareness through their website and posters.
During Q&A, Dato’ Neoh reiterated that proper contact tracing will help isolate the positive and/or potential Covid-19 patients, and that the heads of department are tasked to enforce the daily keeping of logs through spot checks and KPIs.
The moderator for the event was Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, Chairman of WOU’s Board of Governors. About 350 people joined the online talk via Zoom and Facebook.
Click here to watch the video on the webinar: Covid-19 Mitigation at the Workplace.