Covid-19: Technical Note clarifies about the occupational health and safety measures

The Technical Note provides additional guidance to employers concerning the risk of contamination by coronavirus at the work environment.

ARTICLE

Covid-19: Technical Note clarifies about the occupational health and safety measures


The SEI Technical Note 14127/2021/ME provides additional guidance to employers concerning the risk of contamination by coronavirus at the work environment


Issued on March 31, the SEI Technical Note 14127/2021/ME provided the employers with guidance on the preparation of documents and the adoption of occupational health and safety measures, given the risk of contamination by coronavirus at the workplace. The document also contributes to standardize the understanding related to SEPRT/MS Joint Ordinance 20/2020.

The guidelines and clarifications apply to:


1) The preparation of documents and the need for their inclusion in the Occupational Health Medical Control Program (PCMSO)


The Technical Note clarifies that the SEPRT/MS Joint Ordinance 20/2020 is the standard that establishes the essential measures to be followed by organizations intended to prevent, control, and reduce the risks of Covid-19 transmission in the workplace, and that the inclusion of these measures in the Occupational Health Medical Control Program (Programa de Controle Médico de Saúde Ocupacional -- “PCMSO”) is not required.

The PCMSO is an integral part of a broader set of company initiatives in the field of workers' health. In addition to this, other programs and measures must be implemented, such as the Hearing Conservation Program (Programa de Conservação Auditiva - “PCA”), the Respiratory Protection Program (Programa de Proteção Respiratória - “PPR”) and, due to the pandemic, the measures established in the SEPRT/MS Joint Ordinance 20/2020.

    ➔ Note, at this point, the obligation (introduced by the mentioned ordinance) for the organization to widely disclose the guidelines or protocols in the workplace with the indication of the actions necessary to prevent, control, and reduce the risks of Covid-19 transmission.


2) the workers’ leaves and testing


The Technical Note reinforces that serological or molecular tests for Covid-19 are not included amongst the complementary medical tests to be included in the PCMSO, since there is no such provision in the NR 07. The document mentions the position of the International Labor Organization (ILO) that does not include the testing of workers as a measure to be adopted by companies.

Note that, in case of being performed at the employer's discretion, the testing must follow the recommendations of the Ministry of Health.

Concerning leaves related to Covid-19, whether for quarantine or isolation, if less than thirty (30) days, the company is not required to provide a return-to-work medical examination. If the leave extends to thirty (30) days or more, regardless of the cause, the occupational examination for return to work must be performed.

    ➔It is important to highlight that the employers are responsible, as stated in the SEPRT/MS Joint Ordinance 20/2020, for monitoring workers' health status, developing protocols for suspected and confirmed infection cases, and providing medical and private data protection, according to national laws and guidelines.


3) The issuance of an Occupational Accident Report (CAT) in identified cases of Covid-19


The occupational physician and the other physicians who assist workers must act in accordance with the determinations of the Federal Council of Medicine and NR 07.

The issuance of the Occupational Accident Report (Comunicação de Acidente do Trabalho - “CAT”) should be requested when the doctor suspects or confirms that the contamination by Covid-19 is work related. The conclusion should consider, among other factors, the study of the workplace and the organization of work, epidemiological data and scientific literature. The physician must also evaluate whether the organization meets the requirements contained in the Joint Ordinance SEPRT/MS 20/2020.

    ➔ Concerning this item, in addition, COVID-19 can be characterized as an occupational disease or not, requiring an evaluation by the Federal Medical Examination Service. Thus, the Federal Medical Examination must technically characterize the identification of the causal connection between the work and the grievance, not militating in behalf of the employee, at first, a legal presumption that the contamination represents an occupational disease.


Expert support for further guidance

The Covid-19 pandemic brought social impacts that impacted the labor environment. The specialists of the labor and social security area at DPC follow all the standards and their evolution in the legislative area to guide companies specifically and appropriately for each business, contributing to the right steps in the day to day of labor relations.

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