Organisations are coming up with innovative ways to battle the Covid-19 pandemic. But not all solutions have to include advanced sanitation booths, for example. Certification is doing its part as well

“The Covid-19 pandemic is changing the way businesses and people operate,” explains Joep Joubert, group manager of product development, training and certification for BBF SHEQ Services – a specialist services subsidiary of the BBF Safety Group. “We are all going to need to be agile and willing to rethink how we do things.”

He adds: “BBF SHEQ Services offers a complete Covid-19 Business Readiness solution that includes a set of documents (policies, procedures, appointments and risk assessment). We can provide clients with a consultation service to assist them with advice, a readiness audit and an induction training for staff.”

The company also drafted a three-hour Covid-19 workshop for management (from team leaders upwards) that goes into more detail and at a higher level than the induction.

“We are very excited about our SHEQ online training courses, designed to ensure businesses can keep their staff trained and up to date on SHEQ requirements whilst adhering to social distancing and avoiding travel requirements.”

BBF SHEQ Services is also able to certify companies on International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015 and ISO 45001:2018 – which are provided by Ago as a division of BBF SHEQ Services.

RINA – a global organisation, with over 3 900 employees and 200 offices in 70 countries – is also joining the fight against Covid-19 with its management-system certification that aims to prevent the spread of infections in public places.

Nello Sulfaro, chief executive officer of RINA Services, comments: “We firmly believe that now is the time to start thinking about how to deal with the second phase of this health emergency. By bringing together a number of our core competencies, RINA has been able to offer a new pre-emptive scheme that can help tourism and entertainment companies to improve the health and safety of their workers and customers, and to minimise the risks posed by the spread of infections.”

Dubbed the Biosafety Trust Certification, the new system can also be applied to many other sectors. It provides a set of best practices to help minimise the risks of spreading epidemics in crowded places – such as public transport, entertainment and sporting venues (restaurants, theatres, gyms, museums and swimming pools), accommodation facilities (hotels, conference centres, cruise ships) and healthcare structures such as retirement and care homes.

Certification is based on the methodological approach of the International Organization for Standardization to management systems, combined with scientific best practices designed to combat the spread of infections. Principles regarding organisational behaviour management are also included to effectively control and prevent contagion in a work context.

The success of health and safety management systems also depends on human behaviour. To comply with strict hygiene rules, the system requires staff to undergo ad hoc training courses for specific situations. It also requires that individual users be made aware of and follow the recommended preventive measures.

The requirements of this new tool can be integrated into existing management systems, such as ISO 45001, supplementing them with specific procedures focused on the prevention and control of infections.

It isn’t only management systems that are getting ready for the clash with Covid-19, however …

The Foundation for Professional Development (FPD), established in 1997 by the South African Medical Association, supported by the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA), has developed a short online course on Covid-19. It is aimed at increasing the knowledge of healthcare professionals about the management and treatment of the deadly virus.

In this online course, experts in the field discuss the spread of the virus, protection of self and others, management and treatment options and the public health perspective in containing the spread of the virus.

Learning outcomes include:
• A study of Covid-19’s relationship to the bigger family of coronaviruses;
• Understanding the dynamics of the early outbreak of Covid-19 infections, in China, to the further spread of the virus throughout the world;
• Discussions of the physics of airborne and droplet transmission, as well as the role of infection control in limiting the spread of infectious diseases;
• The phases of a pandemic and the appropriate responses;
• The key activities required in surveillance and containment of Covid-19 in South Africa;
• A comparison of the different types of protective equipment, focusing on N95 and surgical masks;
• Demonstrations on how to collect nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs for Covid-19 testing;
• A differentiation of the treatment modalities for mild, moderate and severe Covid-19 cases;
• The management of adverse events and identified high risk cases of Covid-19 infections;
• Explanations of the potential pitfalls pre-, during and post-intubation; and
• Relate Covid-19 to other influenza and coronavirus infections, comparing it with ordinary “flu”, analysing the lessons learnt from SARS and MERS.

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