On the World Day for Safety and Health at Work. RET is focused on addressing the outbreak of infectious diseases at work in particular the COVID-19 pandemic. RET’s management assessed the risks by following the developments of the COVID-19 outbreak globally and as of the first week of March, proactively started to take measures to protect its employees by cancelling international travels of RET staff with face-to-face meetings being replaced with teleconference or online meetings. As a next step a risk map and action plan has been elaborated with the regional and local RET staff to take country specific measures by considering the governmental arrangements to protect its employees and also finding optimal solutions to deliver the services to the most vulnerable by staying and delivering.
As a result of a series of collaborative planning, RET has launched multiple awareness campaigns amongst staff and project participants, providing factual information about the COVID-19 pandemic translated into more than 7 languages, including English, Spanish, French, Turkish, Arabic, Kirundi and Swahili and is rigorously combating misinformation and fake news concerning the pandemic at the country levels. RET is strictly following the related regulations and arrangements of the governments and raises the awareness of their employees and participants that if the disease starts spreading in their communities anyone even with mild symptoms such as cough or fever needs to stay at home, to inform RET’s responsible staff and request sick leave and administrative arrangements, to take everyday precautions to keep space between others, to keep away from others in public and to limit close contact and wash hands often, to avoid crowds as much as possible, to avoid public transportation, cruise travel and air travel, to contact their healthcare provider to ask about next steps, to have enough household items and groceries on hand so that they will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time.
In countries, where no or limited local governmental restrictions apply and employees and project participants are regularly attending the field sites/offices/centers, RET is raising awareness and taking required measures on the adoption of safe practices at work, by briefing the employees on promoting respiratory hygiene at the workplace and making sure the workplaces are clean and hygienic, surfaces are disinfected regularly, and that employees and project participants have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water (offices and field) and/or have access to basic hygienic materials and personal protective equipment such as hand sanitizers/dispensers, face masks, paper tissues, closed bins. In addition, risk assessments and required arrangements are carried out for meetings and events, offices and/or seats have been arranged so that the required distances are kept between the participants and employees.
RET is taking utmost measures to keep employees at higher risk of getting sick from COVID-19 safe to reduce their risk of getting infected, such as the elderly staff, staff with chronic diseases and immunocompromising conditions and pregnant women.
RET is addressing in its contingency plan the precautionary measures and the guidelines to follow in case of any outbreak in the workplace in addition to addressing the mental health and social consequences of a case of COVID-19 in the workplace and is offering counselling and support on a daily basis for more than 1000 employees on the frontline around the world.
To the RET humanitarian heroes on the frontline in Afghanistan, Belize, Burundi, Chad, Colombia, Costa Rica, DRC, Ecuador, Kenya, Lebanon, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Turkey, Venezuela, we salute you.