DOLE mandates face shields in workplaces

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    AS part of the government’s enhanced safety protocols in workplaces, employees will now need to wear face shields with their face masks when they are at work starting on August 15, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said yesterday.

    Bello said: “Effective August 15, it won’t just be face mask you shall be using at work, you must also have face shields. That’s one of the new protocols now.”

    He said the need for face shields is to further help prevent the transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in workplaces, which has been identified as among the top contamination sites of the virus.

    “It’s because transmission isn’t limited to the nose, it may also go through the eyes,” pointed Bello.

    To ensure that all workers are compliant to the amended workplace guideline, the labor chief said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is looking at the possibility of requiring employers to provide the face shields “since it will just be a one-time purchase, it may not be that taxing for employers.”

    The Department of Health (DOH) set the suggested retail prices of non-medical grade face shields for community use at P26 to P50, depending on the material.

    Department Memorandum 0345 signed by Health Secretary Francisco Duque on Aug 10 set the specifications of the face shields.

    Face shields should be made of clear plastic or acetate material and should provide good visibility and should be fog-resistant. It should have an adjustable band to attach firmly around the head and fit snuggly against the forehead. Its material should be robust so it can be easily cleaned and disinfected to be reused.

    More importantly, it should provide full face coverage, meaning it should completely cover the sides and length of the face.

    Bello said failure to wear face shields may result to an employee being refused entry to the workplace.

    As for employers refusing to implement the requirement, Bello said it will not result in the closure of the company.

    “It cannot be that heavy of a penalty. Possibly just an administrative penalty or reminder,” he said.

    As of press time, the revised safety protocols in workplaces have yet to be signed by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

    Meanwhile, government agencies yesterday distributed 20,000 washable/reusable face masks to residents of Rizal province.

    The National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19, the IATF-EID and the Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (C.O.D.E) team of the province of Rizal led the distribution of the face masks.

    Health Secretary Francisco Duque, who was also present during the event, said the reusable masks were of high quality and would pass the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO) standard.

    The package contained five face masks per family and hygienic kits.

    Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez likewise gave the provincial government led by governor Nini Ynares test kits for use by the local health department. – With Christian Oineza