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This article gives advice on how companies can manage infection control in the workplace.
Planning and risk assessment
The company is responsible for ensuring that operations take place in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.
- Management is responsible for ensuring that operations take infection control into account, and placing responsibility for various tasks in connection with the infection control advice.
The occupational health service and / or the municipal health service can be contacted if assistance is needed to assess the risk of infection and prepare action plans.
Management must provide the necessary training and information to employees and visitors / users.
Workplaces should be prepared for absences among employees because of illness or quarantine.
Vaccination status is personal health information. The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority has assessed that the collection of information about the employees' vaccination status must be justified according to the company's needs and the collection must be proportionate and assessed against the employee's need to safeguard personal integrity.
- Guidance for Continuity Planning (DSB) – in Norwegian
- Measures in the workplace (Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority) – in Norwegian
- Information and poster about COVID-19 (Norwegian Directorate of Health)
Follow-up of cases in the workplace
The municipal health service is responsible for following up on infected and close contacts. People who are infected with COVID-19 should be in isolation.
For close contacts of confirmed cases of COVID-19, a distinction is made between household members or equivalently close (romantic partner or best friend) to the person who is infected, and other close contacts.
The municipalities must concentrate their contact tracing on household members and equivalent close contact. People with confirmed COVID-19 are encouraged to notify their other close contacts and recommend that they are tested. Companies can encourage employees to inform the employer if they have confirmed COVID-19, so that the employer can help to provide information to other employees who are potential close contacts. Companies can, in collaboration with the health service in the municipality, consider how they should inform employees who are «other close contacts». The municipality's contact tracing unit should be informed in the event of the possibility of many close contacts / outbreaks, for example after events or gatherings, so that they can, in consultation with the company, consider notification and any measures. Everyone affected will want as much information as possible, and this need must be weighed against confidentiality and privacy considerations.
The general infection control advice such as staying home when you are ill and having good cough etiquette and hand hygiene still applies. Other advice and measures can be used locally or nationally if the infection situation makes it necessary.
The main infection control measures are:
Sick people should stay at home and have a low threshold for being tested. This also applies to vaccinated people.
- Physical distance to others and reduced number of close contacts.
Good hand hygiene and cough etiquette, and thorough cleaning.
Sick people should stay at home
Employees with newly-arisen respiratory tract symptoms and / or feeling unwell should not go to the workplace, even if the symptoms are mild. This also applies to vaccinated people.
The company’s routines should ensure sufficiently good cleaning.
Good hand hygiene and cough etiquette
The company should facilitate good hand hygiene for employees and visitors. Both hand washing and alcohol-based hand disinfection are good, effective methods for hand hygiene.
- See advice for Hand hygiene, cough etiquette, cleaning and laundry
Recommendations for face masks apply where it is not possible to keep a distance, unless physical barriers, such as partitions, are used.
The recommendations for face masks do not apply to services where this prevents employees from performing necessary and statutory duties when meeting vulnerable groups, children and adolescents.
Ventilation and airing
The risk of infection over longer distances (over 1 metre) is increased in rooms with poor ventilation, especially when many people are gathered. Good ventilation is therefore an important infection control measure. For people in light activity, a minimum air supply of 7 litres / second / person is recommended, and a maximum air speed of 0.2 metres / second. Carbon dioxide (CO2) from exhalation can provide a good indicator of the degree of ventilation, and should not exceed 1000 ppm. CO2 levels below 800 ppm are recommended for rooms with continuous speech (teaching), singing (choir exercises) and high physical activity (gyms), where the risk of infection is increased.
Relative humidity below 20 % should be avoided. However, the use of active humidification is not recommended. Air purification based on HEPA filters is assumed to be able to contribute to further reduced risk of infection, but does not replace the minimum requirements for ventilation.
Measures to limit contact
Limiting contact between people is a measure that reduces the risk of transmission. The current national recommendation is to keep a distance of 1 meter to other those who are not household members or similarly close. The company should ensure it is possible to keep at least 1 meter distance to other people.
Working from home and flexible working hours
The current national recommendations and rules stipulate that the employer shall facilitate working from home where possible. Everyone who can work from home should do so.
For some services, including mental health, vulnerable users, immigrants, children and adolescents, building relations and providing reassurance are important and often cannot be replaced by digital services. Working from home should not be used in services where this prevents employees from performing necessary and statutory duties when meeting vulnerable groups, children and adolescents. For these organisations, it is particularly important to consider whether the service quality is equally good and available for everyone.
For some, working from home is difficult due to psychosocial / social conditions, domestic situation, etc. The employer should make it possible for people with a need to be fully or partially present at work to do so.
Working from home is still appropriate as an infection control measure if transmission in the local community or the workplace is high and/or there is a need for contact-limiting measures in public transport. This will be assessed by local or national health authorities.
Home office or other facilitation of work can still be appropriate for individuals with an increased risk of a severe disease course of COVID-19. Such an assessment should be made individually. A medical certificate may be needed.
For up-to-date information on people who may be at higher risk for COVID-19:
Advice to sectors where employees live on site - construction companies, shipyards, ships, etc.
In places where many people live close together, it can be difficult to keep a physical distance and limit the number of contacts. Workplaces where employees live for periods in barracks or similar accommodation in close proximity to each other can be particularly vulnerable to transmission.
Specific sectors outside the healthcare sector: advice and rules
- It is mandatory to use a face mask when it is not possible to keep at least 1 metre distance to others on public transport, in taxis and indoors in station areas. This also applies for employees unless physical barriers are used.
Restaurants and bars:
- Restaurants, bars and establishments with a licence to serve alcohol must ensure that everyone can keep a distance of 1 metre from anyone other than household members and similarly close contacts. There must be at least 1 metre distance between the seats, but people in the same household or similarly close contacts may sit closer to each other.
- Restaurants shall not have activities that normally involve closer distance between the guests than 1 metre.
- Establishments with a licence to serve alcohol must have seating for all guests, but this is not a requirement for cultural events at the establishment.
- In licensed establishments, alcoholic drinks cannot be served after 11 p.m., and cannot be consumed after 11.30 p.m. Alcoholic drinks must be served at the table.
- Establishments must register contact information for guests who consent. They must also register the date and time of the visit and, if possible, location in the room. The information must be stored correctly and deleted after 14 days.
- It is mandatory to wear a face mask when it is not possible to keep at least 1 metre distance from others. This rule does not apply when sitting at the table, or eating and drinking while seated.
- Catering establishments shall not have catering for indoor private gatherings with more than 30 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.
Grocery stores, shops, shopping centres, trade fairs and temporary markets:
- Grocery stores, shopping centres, shops, trade fairs, temporary markets and similar businesses must ensure safe operation with regards to infection control (according to the regulations). This entails requirements to ensure that it is possible to keep at least 1 metre distance from people who are not in the same household or similarly close contacts, and that the business has developed routines for good hygiene, cleaning and ventilation.
- It is mandatory to use a face mask when it is not possible to keep at least 1 metre distance in grocery stores, shops, shopping centres and similar establishments.
- With the exception of grocery stores, shops and shopping centres, businesses must register contact information for guests who consent. It is sufficient to register the information of one person in each group. The business/company must also register the date and time of the visit. The information must be stored properly and deleted after 14 days.
Cultural and entertainment facilities, gyms and bathing facilities:
- Amusement parks, play centre, gaming halls etc., must be closed. Other examples of businesses that belong to this category and therefore have to stay closed are bowling alleys, laser gaming businesses, escape rooms, and go-kart tracks.
- Libraries, museums, bingo halls, swimming pools, water parks, spa facilities, hotel pools, fitness centres and similar establishments must ensure safe operation with regards to infection control (according to the regulations). This entails requirements to ensure that it is possible to keep at least 1 metre distance from people who are not in the same household or similarly close contacts, and that the business has developed routines for good hygiene, thorough cleaning and ventilation. The branch guidelines should be followed for fitness centres and swimming pools.
- Fitness centres, swimming pools, water parks, spa facilities, hotel pools, bowling alleys etc. can have a maximum of 20 people during indoor group training.
- Examples of companies that belong to the same category as fitness centres and swimming pools, and are therefore covered by the same regulatory requirements and recommendations, include squash halls, climbing centres and yoga studios.
- In libraries and museums face masks must be used if it is not possible to keep a distance of 1 metre to others. Face masks are recommended in common areas indoors in fitness centres and bathing facilities if it is not possible to keep a distance of 1 metre to others.
- With the exception of libraries and museums, companies must register contact information for those guests who consent. It is sufficient to register the information of one person in each group. The business must also register the date and time of the visit. The information must be stored properly and deleted after 14 days.
Businesses with one-to-one contact outside the health service:
It is mandatory to wear a face mask when it is not possible to keep at least 1 metre distance from other people at hairdressers, beauty salons and other businesses with one-to-one contact.
Local advice and rules
If the local infection situation so requires, local authorities may recommend or legislate stricter measures. Businesses should keep up to date on the advice and rules that apply in their municipality by referring to information on the municipality's website.