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Manufacturers urged to prioritize staff safety amid increasing Covid-19 cases

By Faridah Kulabako

Added 16th September 2020 06:20 PM

UMA, in collaboration with the health ministry and the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) also intends to issue certificates of compliance to manufacturers who meet the criteria on the SOPs.

Manufacturers urged to prioritize staff safety amid increasing Covid-19 cases

A team of UMA and ministry of health officials also visited three factories to assess their readiness to curb COVID-19. (Courtesy photo)

UMA, in collaboration with the health ministry and the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) also intends to issue certificates of compliance to manufacturers who meet the criteria on the SOPs.

HEALTH   VIRUS   BUSINESS

Manufacturers have been urged to prioritize the safety of their staff especially during this period when Covid-19 positive cases in the country continue to skyrocket amid efforts to revitalise the economy.

The appeal was made by the Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) and the Ministry of Health during the virtual meeting to assess Covid-19 health and safety standards implemented by manufacturers to safeguard their employees and public against Covid-19, recently.

The UMA executive director Daniel Birungi urged the manufacturers to follow the general Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) put in place by the government to aid combat against spread of the deadly virus.

Birungi said that the association opted to work with the health ministry after realising the need to assess manufacturers' readiness to ably manage Covid-19.

"Covid-19 is with us; community infections are high; there could be a factory employee who gets infected any time so we have to ensure that each factory has the right protocols in place to ensure that if this happens, they are able to manage the case properly and mitigate the possibility of passing it to others," he said.

Dr Aggrey Batesaaki, the assistant commissioner in charge of inspection and compliance at the health ministry noted that government is passionate about supporting economic growth and that it would not be interested in closing any factory due to Covid-19, given the vital role manufacturing plays in keeping the economy moving in such unprecedented times.

"Once a company registers a case, the health ministry is available to work with companies to weigh the options of curbing further spread of the virus within the premises without a total shut down," he said.

Continuity plans

The Tullow Uganda Oil Supply Chain Advisor, Peter Ssempebwa, recently urged businesses to have continuity plans in place, noting that business continuity is more pertinent now than ever before given the disruptions experienced at both personal and business level over Covid-19.

"Imagine when you run a Covid-19 test and your entire staff test positive or those of your supplier. This presents certain risks and vulnerabilities that could ultimately end in either you closing the business or having to work at a fairly constrained level," he said.

This, he added, businesses need to design a tailor-fitted business continuity plans to enable them assess the level of risk and vulnerability to their staff, processes and the partners. He said this would help businesses develop an effective risk and contingency plan to counter the risks that have been identified and the vulnerabilities therein.

Among the key business pillars to be assessed, he said, are people, where a company is supposed to assess whether it has a safe working environment for staff and whether they are not exposed Covid-19.

"You need to insulate your business in all ways so that it does not suffer much because of the disruption; where you cannot insulate, develop a fallback position, evaluate the extent of the impact and devise measures to survive so that the business not to suffer," Ssempebwa said.

Dr Batesaaki reiterated the need for vigilance from employers through proper implementation of the Covid-19 SOPs to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Gaps

A team of UMA and ministry of health officials also visited three factories to assess their readiness and see the kind of protocols they have in place in order to inform the final protocol development especially Covid-19 SOPs for manufacturing.

Dr Batesaaki, however, said that a few gaps were identified during the site visits to the factories, which have to be worked on to ensure a safe working environment.

He for instance said that it was discovered that there are not enough posters to remind people walking into the factory about the SOPs but encouraged all factories to put them in strategic locations.

UMA pledged to set up a Covid-19 task force for manufacturers who will draft SOPs to guide health ministry as it sets these guidelines for manufacturing firms.

Edwin Kenneth Kalungi, the in-charge of safety and ISO systems at Steel & Tube Industries, one of the factories that were visited, said the manufacturer has done its best to curb the spread of Covid-19 through the implementation of SOPs.

"We ensure that every client is screened with temperature guns; wash hands with soap and is disinfected fully through the disinfectant booth before entering. Once one has entered, they are restricted from interacting with any staff besides the one they intend to visit to minimise contact," Kalungi said.

UMA, in collaboration with the health ministry and the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) also intends to issue certificates of compliance to manufacturers who meet the criteria on the SOPs. 

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