The pandemic is constantly changing and impacting how we work. The virus is still spreading, causing sickness and death (see WHO figures: https://covid19.who.int). During these unprecedented times, the health and safety of everyone is a primary consideration. All Verifier Bodies are expected to have COVID safety plans in place to ensure the safety of their Verifiers and the facility staff. Please also refer to the Facility Safety section in Annex I of the Verification Protocol.
Minimally, a safety plan should include:
- Criteria for when it is acceptable to proceed with an onsite verification. At all times, VB’s should adhere to local restrictions/laws regarding travel and congregating.
- If the criteria is not met, onsite verification should be postponed. Note that facility contact can be reduced by conducting virtual verification activities (see sections 4 and 5 in the Verification Protocol).
- If onsite is considered acceptable to proceed based on the criteria, Verifiers should follow any COVID safety protocols of the facility in addition to the Verifier Body’s internal protocol. Protocols should include requirements for physical distancing, mask wearing, and other protections, as necessary.
The below recommendations are provided to help Verifier Bodies and their Verifiers make risk-informed decisions before visiting facilities:
- Pre-Visit Check-In: Contact the facility 2 to 7 days in advance of your trip to verify that the location is open, and there are no changes to the facility restrictions.
- Review Situation: Has the situation changed in a way that would increase risk and/or compromise mitigation measures in place? If “yes”, reconsider travel and reschedule.
- Monitor your health - If Sick, Stay at Home: Verifiers should check themselves for symptoms of acute respiratory illness before starting travel and notify their internal team and the facility, and stay home if they are sick.
- Meet Facility Restrictions: Confirm you have met facility restrictions (self-check, equipment check, procedure check, etc.). If you have concerns about traveling to a specific location, we recommend you work with the facility directly to understand any necessary precautions.
- While On Site:
- Face Covering and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are strongly recommended while onsite. If local requirements are more restrictive and/or require face coverings, follow local laws.
- Social Distancing: Follow 6 foot (~2 Meters) social distancing guidance.
- Handwashing: Regularly wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer.