What are the employer’s and employee’s obligations to disinfect the workplace?
Disinfection at work is one of the key safety principles in the office today.
Safe and hygienic work – this combination during a pandemic plays a very important role. The employer is obliged to keep the work premises clean and tidy, while the employee is to observe not only the rules of health and safety at work, but also its established order.
The procedure for cleaning and disinfecting premises requires the employee to observe first of all the surroundings of his workplace, e.g. disinfecting the desk and chair with a disinfectant supplied by the employer.
Washing and disinfecting rooms is part of a working day that has become particularly important in the era of the SARS-CoV-19 pandemic. Additional guidelines and recommendations have been introduced in workplaces. In many companies there were safety procedures, hygiene rules and even rules for moving around workplaces and staying in common areas such as kitchens or changing rooms.
It is clear from paragraph 9(3)(3) of the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of 7 August 2020 on the establishment of certain restrictions, orders and prohibitions in connection with the occurrence of an epidemic that workplaces are obliged to provide workers with disposable gloves or hand sanitizers or 1.5 m distance between posts.
In accordance with Article 15 of the Labour Code, the employer is obliged to ensure safe and hygienic working conditions for workers. This provision also includes means for disinfecting premises. The employee, in accordance with Article 100(1) of the K.P., is obliged to perform the work conscientiously and carefully and to follow the instructions of his superiors concerning the work. This also applies to health and safety rules, as well as internal regulations introduced during the pandemic, regarding the washing and disinfection of premises.
Different internal regulations can regulate the disinfection of the workplace very differently. This may apply, for example, only to the immediate surroundings of the worker, to places that are touched in a narrower sense (e.g. computer keyboard), or to a wider one (e.g. the entire surface of the desk). Many regulations also provide for indoor air disinfection, consisting of periodic (e.g. every 2 hours) ventilation of work rooms.
Countering COVID-19 sometimes requires additional employee activity. These include, for example, the recommended disinfection or washing of hands immediately after entering the workplace in the guidelines of the Chief Sanitary Inspector (GIS), the obligation to put on a mask when handling customers, the need to disinfect the elements used in the social room (kitchen) before using it, i.e. rubbing the table top, backing the chair and even the buttons of household appliances with disinfectant, etc. It is worth noting that these obligations apply directly to the activities of these employees, not to other persons – employees or customers.