Subic BPO to adopt more safety protocols to curb COVID-19 surge

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – Additional safety measures will be implemented at Buwelo BPO Solutions after some of its employees tested positive for COVID-19.

Buwelo chief operating officer Kevin Charles said the new health protocols to prevent further virus transmission at the workplace include temporary work-from-home arrangements; top-to-bottom disinfection of company premises; and “localized lockdowns” that would involve staggered partial closure of offices in the firm’s three-level BPO facility at the Subic Gateway Park here.

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, we have implemented stringent measures to keep our workplaces safe,” Charles clarified in a statement issued to the media on Friday.

He added that his company “saw to it that we meet all requirements of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF), the Department of Health, the Dept. of Trade and Industry, and other government agencies that have jurisdiction over the operation of businesses in the Philippines.”

Among the health protocols in place at the Buwelo offices are: an advanced ozone-generator system to sanitize work areas; plastic barriers to isolate individual workstations; hand sanitizers and temperature scanning at facility entrance; and information drive on COCID-19 safety protocols among employees.

But Charles said that despite successful efforts by the company to ward off the virus in the first eight months of the pandemic, COVID-19 was able to penetrate the workplace when some employees did not report their health condition and went to work even when already exhibiting mild COVID-19 symptoms.

He added that two workers who attended parties in Olongapo and Zambales, which health officials said are the likely source of exposure, did not also inform the company about the gatherings they joined.

“We did all that should be done within the bounds of our employer-employee relationship. But (there is a) boundary between our business relationship and their private lives,” Charles noted.

As of Dec. 4, Charles said 26 Buwelo employees have been confirmed to be infected with the virus out of the 65 that previous contact-tracing had identified to have been possibly exposed. 

But of the 26 confirmed cases, only 21 remain active, he said. Three have also completed the 14-day quarantine period and two have taken repeat swabs that gave negative results. 

Charles also pointed out that 37 of the 65 workers under quarantine have tested negative outright, while three positive cases cannot be linked to the positive clusters in the company, hinting that they could have been infected elsewhere. 

To further help affected employees, Charles said the company provided 50% subsidy for their swab tests and also paid the salary of all employees who were advised to undergo quarantine.

“This is one thing that we have been fervently praying not to happen all throughout these months since the world was hit by the coronavirus pandemic,” Charles said in the statement.

“On behalf of Buwelo BPO Solutions, I express sadness over the unfortunate events that have recently affected our employees, our company, and even the Subic Bay Freeport Zone and the communities around it where our employees reside,” he added.

Charles also reiterated the company’s commitment to the safety and well-being of its employees and expressed the Buwelo management’s appreciation to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority for its firm handling of the Covid-19 cases in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. 

He said the company will continue to support and cooperate with the SBMA, the local government units concerned, and all Philippine government agencies “to resolve what should be a temporary health crisis in our workplace.” (Dante M. Salvaña)

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