The Italian government and the National Trade Unions signed on 6 April 2021 the new Protocol on Health and Safety measures in the workplace (document in Italian here), with the aim of containing the spread of the COVID-19 virus and which updates the previous protocol signed on 14 March 2020 and updated on 24 April 2020 (see our newsletter on the protocol of 14 March here and the one on the protocol of 24 April here).
Here is a summary of the main updates provided by the protocol:
General preventions measures
Employers must implement H&S protocols aimed at reducing the risk of spread of COVID-19 at the workplace. Employees must observe social distancing of at least 1 meter and use protective personal equipment as indicated by the competent authorities (e.g., masks, gloves, caps, lab coats), except in cases where they use more protective equipment in performing their normal work.
Employers who cannot comply with the protocol and ensure adequate level of protection against the risk of spread of COVID-19 at the workplace may be ordered to suspend their business until they can comply with the provisions.
Employers must use remote work arrangements to the maximum extent possible as a means of prevention.
Return to work after Covid-19 and screening campaigns
Employees cannot return to work without being tested negative via a swab test if they contracted COVID-19, even after the 21-days term of maximum self-quarantine has expired.
In order to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks, employers must cooperate with health authorities in carrying out screening campaigns (e.g., mass swab tests), also with the help of the company physician.
Access to the workplace
If individuals working within the company’s premises and employed with a third party test positive, the supplier must immediately inform the employer and both must cooperate with the health authorities in conducting contact tracing in compliance with data protection rules.
Sanitizing at the workplace
Employers must clean the workplace daily and ensure that it is sanitized periodically. At the end of each shift, working tools must be sanitized pursuant to guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health.
Personal protection equipment
Employees must be provided with face masks (or other PPE providing them with higher protection) whenever they share workplace premises with other individuals.
National and international business travels are allowed upon the assessment of the risks related to the travel, including the epidemiological situation at destination, which must be carried out by the H&S representative jointly with the company physician and the employer.
Meetings in person
Meetings in person are allowed only when necessary and urgent and if there is no possibility to connect remotely. During meetings in person, face masks must be used at all times, people taking part must be only those strictly necessary, and social distancing and adequate air circulation must be ensured.
Employees who return to work after hospitalization due to COVID-19 must undergo a medical examination to be carried out by the company physician.
The company physician may suggest specific diagnosis tools useful to detect COVID-19 and limit its spread.
The Italian government and the National Trade Unions also signed a new Protocol on the implementation of vaccination campaigns at the workplaces (document in Italian here)
Here is a summary of the main provisions in this protocol:
- Employers can propose to the health authority special plans to set up vaccination hubs where employees can get vaccinated inside the employer’s premises;
- All the costs related to the setting up of vaccination hubs will have to be borne by the employer. Meanwhile the health authorities will be responsible for the supply of vaccines and of all the equipment needed for inoculation as well as the relevant training for those who will administer the vaccines;
- Employees should be free to decide whether or not to join the company vaccination program, and their data must be treated in compliance with data protection rules;
- The company physician will have to collect the employees informed consent to be vaccinated and inform them about the kind of vaccine they are going to receive as well as the related risks;
- In case vaccination is made during working hours, the time required is treated as working time.
As an alternative to the implementation of a company vaccination plan, the employer can undertake the following:
- Enter into agreements with private health facilities that are authorized to administer vaccination.
- Rely on the health facilities of the Italian National Institute of Insurance against accidents at the workplace (i.e., INAIL).