Our impact, Their voices

Communication, prevention measures and adaptations of Mauritian SMEs against COVID-19

Using the SCORE module - COVID-19 Safety & Health at Work - enterprises in Mauritius implement the necessary measures to protect their employees from the risk of the virus spreading, while strengthening their communication and preparing for recovery.

Article | 07 April 2021
The repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis have not spared any SME. Even Mauritius, which has not reported any cases, has had to deal with the fallout of the pandemic. SMEs with changes in their activities, reduction of staff, implementation of new prevention protocols, all had to find the best ways to adapt to ensure the health of their employees and the continuity of their business. In the absence of clear government guidelines, some SMEs turned to SCORE Training to help them implement measures to combat COVID-19.

This case study reports on the situation of three Mauritian companies from different sectors that have been affected to varying degrees by the COVID-19 pandemic. This study highlights the difficulties encountered by three companies, one in the tourism sector, which was heavily affected by the pandemic, one in the food sector and one in the garment sector.

Preparing for recovery: the case of In Tune Travel Ltd

All over the world, businesses in the tourism industry have been hit hard by the crisis. Mauritius is no exception, and the influx of tourists has drastically reduced.

In Tune Travel Ltd, which operates on a B2B model and provides services that link international tour operators with hotels and resorts in Mauritius, is stationed at the airport to welcome and guide tourists. It includes drivers who are responsible for transfers and excursions throughout Mauritius. The company, therefore, needed to implement and strictly follow standard operating procedures to ensure the health of staff and visitors.

Through SCORE Training, In Tune Travel wanted to ensure the safety of drivers picking up tourists at the airport, but also wanted to introduce social distancing measures in its offices. The introduction of these measures was intended to prepare the company for recovery.

To ensure the continuity of their operations, the company imposed the wearing of masks on its drivers and passengers and developed several posters to be displayed in the vehicles to inform about the prevention measures in force.

Before Identification of communication material to be placed on vans. After Visually striking communication materials strategically placed outside and inside the van.

"I learned a lot about the precautions I need to take to ensure my safety and that of the customers. The training clearly explained the procedures to be followed before and after each trip, the regular deep cleaning that must be done, the wearing of masks and gloves and the regular use of sanitiser."

Hemant Gangaram - Driver at In Tune Travel Ltd
 

Measures taken in the offices included temperature controls, posting of guidelines to be followed in the office, designation of isolation rooms and disinfection stations. All precautions were introduced to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 and to act quickly in case of contamination.

Walkabout during workshop on the measures to be adopted to prevent and mitigate the risks of Covid-19 among staff and when liaising with clients.

Following training all staff committed to communicating and enforcing the newly implemented protocols. The entire company has been involved in ensuring that the prevention measures are properly implemented.

"COVID-19 puts the health of all employees at risk, but the training made me realise that measures such as maintaining a social distance, wearing face masks, washing hands regularly using the correct techniques and using disinfectants, can significantly reduce the risk of being infected."

Padma Sabapathee - Office staff at In Tune Travel Ltd
 


Communication as a driver for prevention measures: The case of La Chance

The company La Chance Ltd relied on communication to cope with the effects of COVID-19. This local textile and fashion company, which employs 69 people, needed to introduce preventive measures to ensure the continuity of operations. The company's director was quick to stress the importance of empowering employees to make sustainable and long-lasting prevention measures.

In the face of the global crisis today, it is important to protect our workers. However, it is not enough to have Covid-19 policies and procedures. It is crucial to educate and empower employees in accessible formats. In the long term, we want our staff to appreciate and understand how important it is to work in a safe environment."

Philippe Lamuse - Director of La Chance

Following the risk assessment and identification of opportunities for improvement, the projects were shared within the motivated EIT team in which the director has placed his trust. According to the Director of La Chance Ltd: "I want the team to take ownership of the project and support the maintenance of all control measures for the safety of all and the continuity of our business."

Enterprise Improvement Team (EIT) responsible for the successful implementation of improvements at La Chance

SCORE Training helped the company to establish a new culture of communication and adopt a new routine for thorough and consistent communication. At La Chance, workers now gather every morning for a briefing, during which an aspect of health and safety is highlighted. There are regular newsletters for staff, which include health and safety advice. One-to-one and small group meetings are organised as required, depending on the issues to be communicated. Health and safety at La Chance Ltd is now a top-down and bottom-up effort to maintain this new safety conscious culture.

“Our director has always been very supportive of new opportunities. We are all vulnerable to Covid-19 but we are very proud to have a team to deal with uncertain situations. COVID-19 is not the only threat on the horizon, but with good teamwork, we can achieve a lot together.”

Murielle Lafleur - Administration and payroll officer at La Chance Ltd
 

Thanks to the commitment of the workers and the trust of the director, the whole team has learned to work better together and is recognised for the small efforts made daily. Regular and multi-level communication is essential to achieving occupational safety & health (OSH) improvements. Fostering an open atmosphere in which everyone can express their experiences, views and ideas on OSH is key for a shared vision and opt.

Maintaining health and safety on a small scale: the case of Chantefrais

Chantefrais, a family business sells frozen and roasted chicken, also had to deal with the effects of COVID-19. In this small business, before SCORE Training there were minimal measures in place to ensure health and safety. At this point the government had not issued any recommendations for the implementation of sanitary measures, so customers were free to enter the shop without any protection. However, the company recognised the importance of implementing procedures, practices, and behaviours to reduce the risk of injury and accidents and to avoid contamination.

The staff quickly understood the importance of wearing masks and using tools such as thermometers and checklists. However, it was the lifespan of the virus on the different materials that most concerned the employees. They had no idea that the virus would persist on the surfaces for so long. Knowing that the virus could remain on plastic and metal surfaces for up to four days made them realise that they had to clean continuously to avoid contamination.

"During SCORE Training, I received clear and pragmatic health and safety advice to ensure that we keep our business and customers safe. The SCORE trainer put the needs of our business first, adapting practices to work best for us.”

Archana Ballgobin - Staff at Chantefrais

The efforts of the enterprise mainly focused on strengthening hygiene and social distancing measures. Previously, everyone could enter the shop, and the appearance of unmarked queues made the situation worse. So, the company developed posters to raise awareness of social distancing and put up clear floor markings.

Before implementing floor marking for social distancing After implementing floor marking for social distancing

Despite all the measures to be put in place and the work that this represented, the staff quickly put all their efforts into improving awareness of the risks associated with COVID-19. The company put in place all necessary elements to safeguard the health of employees and customers, such as disinfection stations and visual aids for wearing masks and distance reminders.

The company achieved double success by using SCORE Training, as the measures learned not only improved the COVID-19 prevention measures but also enhanced the food safety of the products they sold. The company also realised that these measures could not only ensure the continuity of its operations, but they also improved its results, and allowed employees to work more efficiently.

OSH is important to a business as it protects the wellbeing of employers, visitors and customers. Companies that neglect health and safety risk losing staff, increasing costs, and reducing profitability."

Archana Ballgobin - Staff at Chantefrais

Through different means, these three companies strived to implement the prevention and mitigation measures of COVID-19 and thus preserve the continuity of their operations or prepare for the resumption of activities. SCORE Training helped them to identify opportunities for improvement and the most relevant measures for the company. By learning best practices in terms of communication and prevention measures through OSH, companies ensured that the negative effects of the crisis on their business were reduced, and the risk of having to close down the businesses due to an employee’s contamination was minimised.