Mexico: New Guidelines on Preventing COVID-19 at Work Released

By Jorge De Presno, Gerardo Nieto Martínez, Gil A. Zenteno Garcia, Alvaro Gonzalez Schiaffino, Santiago Villanueva Durán and David Puente © Basham, Ringe y Correa November 16, 2022
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Mexico City

​On Oct. 10, a committee comprised of Mexico's Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Welfare, Ministry of the Economy and the Mexican Institute of Social Security ("IMSS" for its acronym in Spanish) announced Guidelines to safely continue economic activities despite COVID-19.

The Guidelines apply at a national level and establish the following general recommended measures to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 in the workplace:

  • Favor a healthy distance of 1.5 meters between individuals.
  • Provide dispensers with 60 percent alcohol-based solutions at different points in the workplace.
  • Ensure that restrooms have adequate and clean conditions for the use of staff.
  • Favor natural ventilation in common spaces or spaces with a higher concentration of staff.
  • Review operation and maintenance of ventilation systems and ensure filter changes for proper operation.
  • Refrain from using disinfectant mats.

The Guidelines include the following in relation to the application of COVID-19 tests, vaccination, and use of face masks.

COVID-19 Tests

Antigen and PCR tests are possible, but not compulsory nor with charge to staff.

In any case, prior consent of the employee must be obtained and return to work must not be conditioned on taking a test.

Vaccination

Vaccination is voluntary and should not be a condition to prevent employees from performing work-related activities in the workplace.

Face Masks

Face masks' use will not be mandatory in open and closed spaces if maintaining a safe distance of 1.5 meters is possible.

Their use is recommended in open and closed spaces if it is not possible to maintain a safe distance, or in closed spaces that are not ventilated or have restricted ventilation.

Their use can be omitted by people not sharing a physical workplace, for having meals and in case intense physical work is performed.

The use of face masks is suggested for individuals who decided not to get vaccinated or that are immunologically compromised or work in a poorly ventilated workplace.

Positions with high exposure to known or suspected sources of COVID-19, such as health care employees or those who perform procedures that generate aerosols, must use N95 masks or its equivalent and use gloves, medical gown and eye protection.

For these purposes, companies may distribute face masks among their staff, supervising the correct use, fully covering the nose and mouth and avoiding the use of masks with valves.

Checklist of Health and Safety Measures

Furthermore, the Guidelines include a checklist of health and safety measures that are recommended to be implemented in the workplace. These include, among others, the following:

  • Appoint a committee or person responsible for the correct implementation, monitoring and supervision of recommended measures.
  • Use face masks on public transport and verify that employees using these means of transportation wash their hands with an alcohol-based solution of at least 60 percent before entering the workplace.
  • If recommended, verify correct face mask use fully covering the nose and mouth.
  • Inform staff about established prevention measures and have a training program on actions to be carried out in the workplace. The IMSS online educational platform may be used for this purpose.
  • Have a questionnaire to identify COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Avoid establishing policies that conditions access to work to taking COVID-19 tests financed by staff.

The Guidelines leave without effect so-called Technical Guidelines for the Reopening of Economic Activities published in Official Federation Gazette on May 29, 2020.

Updated guidelines establish recommendations and suggestions and work center's obligations are limited to compliance with measures that are deemed statutory (that is, condition return to work to getting vaccinated or apply tests with charge to employees and without their consent). If work centers are subject to an inspection from an authority, they must demonstrate full compliance.

Jorge De Presno, Gerardo Nieto Martínez, Gil A. Zenteno Garcia, Alvaro Gonzalez Schiaffino and Santiago Villanueva Durán are attorneys with Basham, Ringe y Correa SC in Mexico City. David Puente is an attorney with Basham, Ringe y Correa SC in Monterrey, Mexico. © 2022 Basham, Ringe y Correa. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission of Lexology.

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