Companies are waking up to a dangerous new reality—how to deal with the risk of coronavirus infections as they restart businesses—after workers at smartphone maker Oppo’s facility in Greater Noida tested positive this week.
Oppo’s factory production was halted after nine workers were found to be infected. Another two tested positive at a construction facility for a Vivo factory, another phone maker in Noida—a grim reminder that such an outcome might await any company, industry executives said.
While the government has issued a list of standard operating procedures for employees coming to work, many companies are taking steps of their own to mitigate the chances of such a disaster, they said.
Noida-based Super Plastronics Pvt Ltd, which owns the brand licence for Thomson TV sets, has been checking employees’ temperature three times a day, instead of the recommended two. It has also assured factory workers that their salaries won’t be cut if they have to go under quarantine, and the cost of testing will be borne by the company.
Automobile manufacturers have taken precautionary measures like whole-body sanitization and mandatory temperature checks. Most of them have also made isolation wards in factories for employees who show symptoms of infection at the workplace.
Some companies are trying to pre-empt the chances of infections by screening employees before they enter the office. But according to the owner of an automotive component maker, some contractual employees pop a paracetamol tablet before work to avoid detection of fever as they fear that anyone with a touch of flu won’t be allowed in.
“No one is talking about these issues, which are proving to be a big impediment for owners of the companies. Now, if an employee takes such tablets to ensure the daily pay, his or her body temperature will be normal and will increase only after three or four hours. By the time this person will get into the factory premises. If a single person is found positive then we will have to again shut the factory, which will be a drain on our finances," the person said, requesting anonymity.
Venkat Neelakantan, vice-president and head, corporate real estate services, India and APAC, Capgemini, said the company has created a self-declaration app called Namaste Capgemini, which helps the company ensure “only a predefined number of employees are allowed access to office premises".
“If the app authorizes return to office, the employee will need to scan a QR code in the app at the entry of the office premises and it will generate a mandatory digital pass valid for the day. Every employee will have to log in to the app and declare their good health for every day of their commute to office," said Neelakantan.
Another TV maker, Videotex International Ltd, has placed touchless mechanisms for water coolers, wash basins and sanitizers in its factory.
Prasid Banerjee contributed to this story.