Supply of Personal Protection Equipment for Employees 

April, 2020 - Catalina Santos

Through this Circular, the Ministry of Work recalls that all employers are obligated to provide their employees with proper protection equipment with the safety and efficiency conditions required according to the risk´s nature.

Likewise, the Ministry points out that in accordance with Article 5 of Decree 488 of 2020, during the mitigation phase the Occupational Risks Insurance Companies will assist employers with the the supply of personal protection equipment, the performance of frequent preventive medical examinations and diagnoses, and the implementation of intervention measures directly related to Covid-19.

Accordingly, the Ministry highlights that such assistance obligation does not exempt employers from fulfilling their obligation to supply personal protection equipment and to conduct the corresponding occupational safety and health activities.

Likewise, the Ministry clarifies that provisions contained in Article 5 of Decree 488 of 2020 only apply to employers who perform activities in which employees are directly exposed to Covid-19 contagion risk. These employees must be previously identified by employer or contractor within their Occupational Safety and Health Management System.

The Ministry of Work quotes Circular Letter 17 of 2020, whereby employees with direct exposure to Covid-19 are defined as those whose work involves direct contact with individuals classified as suspected or confirmed case (mainly workers in the health sector).

Accordingly, the Ministry of Work concludes the following:

  • Companies with intermediate and indirect risk must supply their employees with personal protection equipment.
  • If there is a risk of direct exposure to confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 for certain positions, the Occupational Risks Insurance Company will support the employer by supplying the personal protection equipment due to the contingency.
  • Companies whose employees are at risk of direct exposure must coordinate the support activities with the Occupational Risks Insurance Company to which they are affiliated regarding:
    • i. The supply of personal protection equipment
    • ii. Performance of frequent preventive medical examinations and diagnoses
    • iii. Intervention measures related to the containment and attention of Covid-19 cases

For this purpose, the number of exposed employees must be set, and intervention measures must be prioritized until the Economic, Social and Ecological Emergency remains.

  • Support provided by Occupational Risks Insurance Companies does not replace employer´s obligations regarding the supply of personal protection equipment and the corresponding training for its proper use, handling and disposal.
  • The exposure risk to Covid-19 must be determined by the employer within its Occupational Safety and Health Management System. To do so, it may have the Occupational Risks Insurance Company´s support and advice in order to define the employees with direct exposure. These employees will receive their personal protection equipment by the Occupational Risks Insurance Company, as well as the benefits set in Article 5 of Decree 488 of 2020.



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