As the number of diagnosed cases rise both nationally and locally, people who work in essential businesses are becoming more concerned about safety. Essential businesses are also concerned about providing a safe space for both workers and the general public. Yesterday, April 9, 2020 the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued guidance to essential businesses to keep these workplaces safe and as free from contamination and transmission as possible.
Essential workers are folks in law enforcement, call centers, janitorial and custodial staff, workers in food service, manufacturing, information technology, transportation, energy, and government workers.
The CDC has eased requirements for essential workers who have had contact with an individual a diagnosed or suspected case of COVID-19. Formerly, employers where supposed to send the worker home for 14 days. Now, the new CDC guidance provides that a person who is asymptomatic can return to work if person:
- Pre-Screen: Employers should measure the employee’s temperature and assess symptoms prior to them starting work. Ideally, temperature checks should happen before the individual enters the facility.
- Regular Monitoring: As long as the employee doesn’t have a temperature or symptoms, they should self-monitor under the supervision of their employer’s occupational health program.
- Wear a Mask: The employee should wear a face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after last exposure. Employers can issue facemasks or can approve employees’ supplied cloth face coverings in the event of shortages.
- Social Distance: The employee should maintain 6 feet and practice social distancing as work duties permit in the workplace. Disinfect and Clean workspaces:
- Clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment routinely.
If such a person becomes symptomatic while at work, they should be required to go home and get appropriate treatment immediately. In such a case-employers must immediately:
- Clean and disinfect surfaces in their workspace.
- Information on persons who had contact with the ill employee during the time the employee had symptoms and 2 days prior to symptoms should be compiled.
- Others at the facility with close contact within 6 feet of the employee during this time would be considered exposed.
Whether or not one or more employees have been exposed on or off the worksite, companies should implement best practices to avoid the spread of the virus on their property. This could include making provisions to make sure employees do not share headsets, phones, or other objects or equipment used near the mouth or nose; increase frequency of sanitization off all common surfaces; introduce the use of face masks or shields; increase air exchanges in rooms; and, require physical distancing 6+ feet or more. Stagger breaks, start times, and otherwise avoid opportunities for employees to be physically close to each other or confined in a single room longer than necessary. No shared food or utensils.
To review the CDC’s guidance in full Click Here.