There is still a long way to go to beat coronavirus, but life in the UAE is slowly settling into a new normal as more restrictions are being eased.
After weeks of working remotely, offices, factories, and other facilities have reopened in the UAE as the pandemic drags on, but health and safety of staff remain the top priority for employers.
A wide range of businesses have started investing in in-facility safeguards such as temperature and mask checking systems for staff and visitors on arrival; redesigning workspaces to maintain physical distancing; and implementing measures to restrict movement in shared areas such as pantries, canteens and meeting rooms.
Health and safety precautions in the UAE are second to none.
“Health and safety precautions in the UAE are second to none,” says Alex Koumi, Managing Director of the HR firm Kingston Stanley.
“Employers have clear and concise standards to adhere to that have been communicated effectively through social media by the relevant authorities. A vast number of businesses are now back in the office on some level — whether working on a rota capacity or splitting offices and their workforce.”
Preserving health in the workplace
Most companies that have reopened in the last few weeks have implemented body temperature checks of all employees and visitors upon arrival.
We have recently experienced increasing demand for the temperature screening products that are widely used for employees and visitors entering the premises.
“We have recently experienced increasing demand for the temperature screening products that are widely used for employees and visitors entering the premises,” says Faisal Kan, General Manager, ADS Security Devices Trading, which distributes Hikvision’s products in the UAE, including its temperature screening solutions. “Additionally, offices have put in place many guidelines and instructions to raise awareness about the precautionary measures to be taken to keep the working environment safe,” Kan says.
Growing adoption of temperature-measuring scanners at industrial and commercial spaces to reduce the spread of infection is one of the key factors fueling growth of this market globally. According to a recent report by Research & Markets, the global thermal scanners market size is estimated to grow from $4.1 billion (Dh15.05 billion) in 2020 to $6.2 billion by 2025, growing at a rate of 8.6 per cent.
Warehouses, office buildings and factories in the UAE are rushing to deploy various thermal scanners and infrared temperature screening tools to meet the guidelines for Covid-19 containment and safety at the workplace.
Prateek Verma, Sales Director — MEA Region, Vantage, which offers various security and surveillance solutions, has also noticed a surge in demand for temperature measurement solutions of all types in the UAE.
“As the curve flattens, the demand will be mainly from the high traffic areas over the next few months. Airports, malls and other public places have already implemented measures to check visitors for fever in the UAE.
“As businesses open up, there is now quite a lot of demand from factories, industries, construction sites and corporate offices looking to implement such measures to prevent the spread of virus amongst their staff and visitors and also comply with the government regulations,” Verma says.
As businesses open up, there is now quite a lot of demand from factories, industries, construction sites and corporate offices looking to implement such measures to prevent the spread of virus amongst their staff and visitors and also comply with the government regulations.
Temperature monitoring on a regular basis would be a norm in the future. “Biometric fingerprint machines are normally used to mark attendance and for access control in offices. But, now the new biometric devices are also equipped with fever measurement and mask detection systems and these are contactless too,” he adds.
Along with regular fever screening, companies are taking several other safety measures to reduce the risk of transmission. These include implementing cleaning practices for the workstations, common areas, frequently touched surfaces such as door knobs, table-tops, drawer handles and push-out exit doors, and washrooms at regular intervals throughout the day; upgrading air filtration system in commercial facilities; de-densifying office spaces by erecting physical barriers between workstations; and providing personal hygiene products such as hand sanitisers, disinfectant wipes, face masks, shoe covers and gloves throughout the office.
Cleaning and disinfection for prevention
While many companies are reaching out to commercial cleaning companies for extensive sterilisation and disinfection services to control risks in office buildings and public spaces, some are handling the process in-house.
We urge all businesses to comply with government regulations and safety measures.
"We urge all businesses to comply with government regulations and safety measures," says Eng. Khalid Al Khatib, CEO, Shield Middle East, which manufactures and supplies sanitisation products and solutions. "Before using any disinfectant or sanitiser, read the material safety data sheet (MSDS), which explains how the product can affect our lungs, skin or eyes. Use products that are proven scientifically with international certificates that these are effective on coronavirus."
"SHIELDme offers 99.99 per cent efficacy against viruses and bacteria in just 30 seconds. Yet, this is safe, alcohol-free and can be used multiple times during the day, ensuring safety of the workplace and employees," explains Al Khatib. "It is compatible with hand sanitisers, dispensers, foggers, and tunnels. Always sanitize the workplace, and before buying a sanitising product, read the MSDS and check the certifications that proves that it kills Covid-19," he adds.
To protect people from potential Covid-19 exposures, many organisations in the UAE have also installed sanitisation tunnels in areas where a large number of people gather. Sensing demand for such innovations, the UAE-based Eurostar Group has launched a unique sanitisation tunnel that ensures full disinfection of people as well as metal and other objects, making it ideal for use in schools, hospitals and factories and other areas of high traffic.
Eurostar’s sanitisation tunnels are made of stainless steel food-grade variant and the disinfectant liquid used is also food-grade.
“Eurostar’s sanitisation tunnels are made of stainless steel food-grade variant and the disinfectant liquid used is also food-grade,” says Raju Jethwani, Group Chairman, Eurostar. “This makes it one of the safest ways to disinfect. It’s been approved by Dubai Municipality and we’ve successfully installed these tunnels in schools, hotels and places of worship.”
How to stay safe at work
“Companies can provide continuous health and safety trainings and education on coronavirus, including relevant subtopics such as how SARS-CoV-2 can spread from one person to another and how this spread can be curbed,” says Dr Ramzi Al Shaiba, Medical Director and Specialist in General Surgery, Bareen International Hospital — MBZ City, Abu Dhabi. “It is also important for employees to follow the basic health and safety protocols.” These include:
1. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water. If these are not readily accessible, use alcohol-based hand sanitiser or hand rub.
Companies can provide continuous health and safety trainings and education on coronavirus, including relevant subtopics.
2. Refrain from touching the t-zone of your face, if your hands are not properly washed or sanitised.
3. Always wear a mask when going out of home or when you are with other people. Clean your hands before touching the mask and do not remove the mask where there are people within one meter.
4. When sneezing or coughing, cover both the mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbows. This will minimise the spread of droplets from infected individuals in the workplace.
5. Practise physical distancing by maintaining at least one meter safe distance between you and other people.