Mexico Releases Specific Technical Guidelines for the Reactivation of Economic Activities
Mexico's Ministry of Health released a document that establishes the most relevant health protection measures and occupational preventive measures that companies with more than 100 employees must implement as of June 1, 2020, in order to continue or resume their business activities.
Companies must establish a Health Safety Protocol (HSP) in accordance with the workplace health safety guidelines published by the Ministry of Health. This document establishes minimum preventive measures that must be implemented in order to prevent and mitigate any epidemic spread and any occupational COVID-19 outbreaks at workplaces. Essential measures include the following:
- Appoint a committee or person in charge for the implementation, monitoring and supervision of the health protection measures to attain this "New Normal" within the COVID-19 framework. (See Holland & Knight's previous alert, "COVID-19 in Mexico: The New Normal," May 20, 2020.) The committee or person in charge must carry out the following activities:
- Delimit and define work stations and areas with physical barriers, if the production process or service allows such measures. Otherwise, work stations must be delineated with signs or marks on the floor ensuring a 1.5-meter distance between employees.
- Implement access and sanitary screening protocols that measure body temperature at the company's entrance and exit areas. If it is not possible to measure body temperature at the facilities' exit areas, employees' body temperature must be checked at their work stations at the end of their shifts.
- Implement hygiene and healthy distance guidelines for the control of visitors, suppliers and contractors. All suppliers, visitors and contractors must use mouth guards when entering, remaining inside and leaving the premises.
- Implement daily cleaning and disinfection protocols for common areas, as well as surfaces and objects that are regularly in contact and handled physically, which include washing with soap and water and disinfecting with a 0.5 percent sodium hypochlorite solution (equivalent to 5,000 ppm).
- Provide face shields and eye or face protection to all workers in the workplace, as the job may require. If the facility's size and equipment distribution does not allow the use of such protective equipment, employees must maintain a minimum distance of at least 1.5 meters from their coworkers.
- Access and constant supply to water, soap and disposable paper towels, as well as 60 percent alcohol or disinfectant gel for employees so they may properly manipulate personal protective equipment.
- Establish a training program for directors or management personnel on specific actions and measures to prevent and avoid COVID-19 infection and outbreaks. Companies may consult the following relevant information at the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) website.
- Have an instrument to identify symptoms and chains of infection at employees' workplaces and in their communities.
- Implement a guide of action that establishes guidelines to properly treat, identify and protect cases in which an employee displays symptoms of COVID-19, as well as suspected and confirmed cases of infection, chains of infection, employee families and the rest of the company's employees, in addition to ensuring their reintroduction to their work.
a. Identify proper health alert criteria and industry type categorization according to the workplace location and industry type, in order to effectively identify measures that must be implemented.
b. Ensure that the general control strategies are correctly implemented.
c. Remain informed of any instructions issued by the federal authorities in order to, as applicable, inform employees of any new measures that should be implemented.
d. Identify populations at-risk, and implement any necessary protection measures.
e. Verify the correct implementation of all health protection measures required by the authorities for companies or workplaces.
The guidelines establish 72 additional measures that are considered recommendations.
On May 29, 2020, the Ministry of Health established specific technical guidelines for companies and workplaces to resume or continue their activities under health security protocols. The control strategies are essential to ensure that both staff and the general public are complying with standards that reduce any infection risks associated with COVID-19.
1. Scope of Application and Purpose
These technical guidelines require widespread implementation by all work centers, and aim to establish specific measures that companies must implement within the framework of the "New Normal" general strategy, in order to safely and responsibly resume or continue their business activities with staggered shift hours, for the successful reactivation of economic activities.
All essential work centers must, compulsorily, self-assess their compliance, and other work centers may do so voluntarily by obtaining approval from the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS).
2. Socioeconomic Reestablishment or Continuity Protocol: The New Normal
On June 1, 2020, the socioeconomic reestablishment phase began, consisting of a weekly health traffic light system per region (state or municipal) that is reported by the authorities to determine the health alert level and define what type of activities are authorized to be carried out in all economic, labor, school and social spheres. Traffic light alert levels are maximum, high, medium and low, and will be dictated by the federal authority.
3. Work Center Categorization
3.1 Identify the industry type and its characteristics.
- The work centers must identify if they are allowed to continue or resume their regular business activities according to the essential sector list set forth in the agreements published in the Official Gazette of the Federation.
3.2 Identify the level of epidemiological risk.
- Work centers must identify the proper health alert criteria and epidemiological risk according to the work center's municipality or location.
3.3 Identify the economic activity and scale of work centers.
- Work centers must identify the economic activity and scale of their productive units, as micro, small, medium and large companies.
3.4 Identify internal characteristics of the workplace.
- Workplaces must identify the following characteristics:
a. personnel at a greater risk of infection and/or developing complications from the illness located at each of the company's areas or departments
b. personnel in charge of the care of minors, elderly, and people at a greater risk of infection and/or developing complications from the illness
c. the areas or departments that constitute the work center (offices, warehouses, customer service areas and common areas)
4. General Health Protection Measures to Prevent Occupational Outbreaks
Work centers must, compulsorily, implement the following strategies:
- A. Health promotion
- B. Health protection measures
- B.1 Healthy distance
- Health distance measures must be implemented in the workplace in accordance with the following:
- A. If employees display any kind of respiratory disease symptoms, they should stay home.
- B. Healthy distance at workplaces
- B.2 Entry and exit control system
- Implementation of an entry and exit control system for workers, customers and suppliers.
- B.3 Measures to prevent occupational outbreaks in the company
- The work centers must carry out actions focused on reducing and preventing any possible risk of infection. These measures shall address hygiene, cleanliness and social distancing issues, and take the following measures:
- Install sufficient trash bins for the proper disposal of personal products.
- Instruct personnel that they should not share work tools or personal items without proper disinfection.
- Establish an access control policy for visitors, suppliers and contractors, in order to reduce outside risks of infection and entry of sick people into the workplace facilities.
- Implement a policy for the safe use of stairs and elevators while maintaining a healthy distance.
- B.4 Use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- In order to avoid infection outbreaks, employers should distribute among employees the following sanitary equipment:
- mouth guards, preferably washable mouth guards, for all personnel; and face shields or safety glasses for personnel with public service duties
5. Surveillance and Supervision
Employers must take actions to verify the correct implementation of all measures at the companies or workplaces. A committee or person in charge will be assigned these tasks and responsibilities.
6. Risk Classification for Personnel Exposure
Work centers located at regions and municipalities considered high and medium risks (orange and yellow) of infection according to the health alert system must implement differentiated measures (such as attendance flexibility) to reduce sources of infection to populations at a greater risk of infection and/or developing complications from the illness, as well as preventing possible occupational outbreaks and any further spread of the virus between work centers and staff.
Companies will have to complete a health safety protocol self-assessment document. It is important that in the HSP option, companies upload their protocol in PDF format in order to avoid further information extension requests or denials of their request to resume business activities.
Holland & Knight attorneys have extensive experience in labor, benefits and employment matters in a variety of industries. For more information, contact the authors or Holland & Knight's Mexico City office.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that the situation surrounding COVID-19 is evolving and that the subject matter discussed in these publications may change on a daily basis. Please contact your responsible Holland & Knight lawyer or the author of this alert for timely advice.
Information contained in this alert is for the general education and knowledge of our readers. It is not designed to be, and should not be used as, the sole source of information when analyzing and resolving a legal problem. Moreover, the laws of each jurisdiction are different and are constantly changing. If you have specific questions regarding a particular fact situation, we urge you to consult competent legal counsel.