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Companies in Puerto Rico are looking out for employee health

By on July 24, 2020

(Screen capture of https://coronavirus.marsh.com)

Marsh survey: 90% have established safety protocols

SAN JUAN – As companies seek to adapt their operations to the standards and practices established to keep their employees and customers safe amid the reopening of the economy as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase daily, a survey of companies in Puerto Rico by Marsh Saldaña found that 90% of respondents have implemented protocols to protect their employees for their return to work.

In a regional study by Marsh—the professional services firm with operations in insurance broking and risk management—on the Safe Return to Work, carried out during the first phase of stay-at-home-orders, more than 700 companies from 11 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean were surveyed. Puerto Rico represents 5% of the organizations in the survey, which was conducted in the first months of the pandemic. It analyzed the measures taken by the companies and the factors considered for a safe return to work.

According to the study on the Plan for Returning People to the Workplace Safely, 76% of companies in Latin America and the Caribbean already have a return to work plan based on preventive health and safety measures, and training and communication plans, among others. Only 59% of the companies surveyed stated that they had a training program to protect their workers, which is fundamental for building a culture of self-care and prevention.

Specifically in Puerto Rico, 87% of the companies surveyed have a return to work plan focused on measures to guarantee safety in the work environment, promote personal hygiene, restrict face-to-face activities and deliver personal protective equipment, etc.

A major concern of the organizations reflected in the report is keeping their collaborators healthy.
“For this reason, they are working on interdisciplinary teams to design return to work plans based mainly on legal requirements, recommendations of leading institutions and good corporate practices,” Marsh Saldaña explained in a press release.

On the other hand, 55% of the companies surveyed at the regional level have not suspended operations because they are part of the essential services sectors, where strict measures are required to protect the health of workers and customers.
“Organizations that have phased into their workplaces amid the pandemic are being more cautious, placing greater emphasis on measures to prevent contagion,” the release reads.

Meanwhile, ninety percent of the Puerto Rican companies surveyed project returning their workers to face-to-face activities from three to six months, after quarantine orders are lifted. The remaining 10% said they will resume face-to-face activities within six months to one year.

“Despite the fact that the study was carried out in May, the reality is that amid all the changes that have emerged since the pandemic began and the modifications to the country’s executive orders, it would not surprise us if the companies review or have already adjusted their comprehensive risk management plan, in order to adapt to the new ‘normal,’ aware that a return to work does not imply that the risk has been eliminated. Therefore, it is important that this plan is defined properly, reflecting the reality of the business, the management of its tangible and intangible resources, the financial capacity and a long-term vision,” said Oscar Ramos, local Leader of Health and Benefits at Marsh Saldaña.

Measures implemented during the quarantine:

Due to COVID-19, 95% of companies in Latin America and the Caribbean implemented remote work for those positions that allow it. In Puerto Rico, 100% of the companies surveyed did so, and had to “speed up the execution of measures that guarantee their feasibility, operability, cybersecurity, health of their workers, etc.,” Marsh pointed out.

Companies have leveraged technology to promote the physical and mental health of their workforce. For example, 43% of the organizations surveyed, implemented virtual wellness programs, while 37% conducted surveys on the concerns of their workers.

“Closeness to workers, constant communication, as well as recognition for the work done are actions that strengthen the level of commitment and productivity,” said Diego Ramírez, regional leader for Latin America and the Caribbean for Health Management at Mercer Marsh Benefits.

As for what companies can do to improve and what the challenges are, Marsh said the “vulnerability of the health of their workers is the main concern in return plans, but it is also important to include their environment and reality in said evaluation.”

“It should be noted that 61% of respondents on the Island have a mental health plan for their workers, a result that is higher than 33% of global data,” the firm said, with Ramos adding that the measures “should not only help contain the spread of the virus, but also raise awareness, prevention and attention to the mental health of workers,” according to the release.

“It is important that companies identify, control and monitor the emotional health of their employees, since, in crisis situations, stress and anxiety levels rise,” Ramos added.

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