Omani firms take steps to keep staff safe from coronavirus

A growing number of organisations in the Sultanate — ranging from multinational corporations and major contractors to international consultancies and small businesses — are adopting measures to secure their employees — management executives and blue collar workers alike — from potential exposure to the novel coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many of these measures are in line with precautions championed internationally and embraced by countries around the world.
Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), one of the largest employers in the Sultanate, said it is continuing to focus on “safeguarding our staff and contractors and protecting our business operations”.
The majority state-owned Oil & Gas producer, whose operations are critical to sustaining day-to-day economic life in the Sultanate, said in a statement: “In response to the continued spread of COVID-19 we have introduced a number of measures including banning large staff gatherings, travel restrictions and staff working from home where possible.
Our teams are also developing detailed business continuity plans to minimise disruption wherever possible. We will continue to work closely with the government and are dedicating significant efforts to cascade awareness to all employees and contractors in order to maintain and ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone.”
Omani-listed contractor Galfar Engineering and Contracting SAOG, with a workforce of over 21,000 employees, announced the establishment of an in-house ‘COVID-19 Management Committee’ to oversee the implementation of safeguards across its countrywide operations. The panel, with representatives from the company’s Medical, HR, Administration, QHSE, Infra, O&G, Plant and Procurement Units, has been tasked with liaising with the competent authorities to ensure that the company’s pandemic response measures are in alignment with those adopted at the national level. “Galfar has advised its employees to restrict official travel outside Oman to minimise exposure unless it’s business critical, and prohibits travel
to those countries where infection is identified as widespread (i.e., China, Japan, Iran, Italy, South Korea,” an official said, adding that events involving the crowding of employees have been suspended as well.
Importantly, standard hygiene measures are being stringently enforced at offices, project sites and camps across the country, according to the official. Hand sanitizers are installed at all entry points, corridors, meeting halls at the head office, the fingerprint biometric system has been replaced by a card access system for all employees, and temperature screening is now mandatory for employees and visitors at the gate.
“The Galfar management is fully committed to avoiding any spread of the coronavirus at any of its sites and offices. We will adhere to all the directives issued by the Supreme Committee and ensure that all employees strictly observe the advised and directed precautionary measures. Our Human Resources and Administration Unit together with all the other units both in Operations and Support will work together to continue to ensure there are no coronavirus cases in Galfar or any of its subcontractors,” the official added.
A well-known Omani engineering contractor said the company has introduced regular ‘Toolbox Talks’ on the importance of hygiene as a safeguard against exposure to the virus.
“We have stopped biometric attendance to minimise all human touch points. The fire doors and division doors have been kept open to avoid touching them. Notifications of health and hygiene practices to be followed by employees are displayed at all the work areas and common areas. Sanitisers have been placed at various locations within the office premises. Our workers have been advised to keep the windows of the bus open for fresh air.”