As U.S. companies reopen in phases amid the sustained COVID-19 pandemic, employers are required to prevent and contain a COVID-19 outbreak. In fact, OSHA mandates that all employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace. The coronavirus pandemic presents no exception to that rule, yet business leaders are hard pressed to find clinically-substantiated guidance to ensure the health and safety of their personnel in their specific work environments.
In this article, we outline the minimum requirements that business leaders should implement to prevent COVID-19 infections and minimize coronavirus-related health risks in the workplace.
If you would like more comprehensive support, our Workplace Health program is a simple experience that makes it easier to test and screen employees onsite and reduce the risk of COVID-19 workplace outbreaks through guidance that ensures compliance with stringent ADA standards, OSHA requirements, and CDC recommendations.
All employers should implement coronavirus-related actions, such as:
- conducting daily in-person or virtual health checks to prevent and reduce transmission
- conducting a hazard assessment of the workplace
- encouraging employees to wear cloth face coverings in the workplace, if appropriate
- determining what type of controls or PPE are needed for specific job duties
- implementing policies and practices for social distancing in the workplace
- providing tissues and no-touch trash cans.
- providing soap and water in the workplace
- providing alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol, if soap and water are not available
- encouraging methods of greeting that do not require contact
- limiting travel whenever possible
- minimizing risk to employees when planning meetings and gatherings
- protecting workers from potential exposures, according to their exposure risk
- performing routine cleaning according to CDC Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting
- improving the building ventilation system
All employers should implement and update a plan that:
- is specific to the work environment
- identifies all areas and job tasks with potential exposures to COVID-19
- includes control measures to eliminate or reduce such exposures
- encourages employees to follow new policies or procedures related to illness, cleaning, meetings, and travel
- identifies heightened travel risks by monitoring international and national updates
All employers should actively and safely monitor employee wellness by:
- requiring employees who have symptoms to notify their supervisor and stay home
- discouraging infected employees from returning until criteria to discontinue home isolation are met
- requiring employees with an infected family member at home to notify their supervisor
- immediately separating and sending home employees who appear to have symptoms
- safely transporting an employee who becomes sick at work, either to their home or to a healthcare provider
All employers and employees should make sure to:
- cover coughs and sneezes
- maintain at least 6 feet of distance between each other whenever possible
- wear a mask in public settings, even when following social distancing guidelines
- wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- if soap and water are not available, clean hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
With no end to the pandemic in sight, all business leaders need to consider how best to decrease the spread of COVID-19 and lower the virus’s impact in their workplace. At Because Health, we help your company manage its COVID-19 response strategy each step of the way, including your return-to-work programs, policy compliance, workplace exposure risk assessment and mitigation, and so much more.
As new information about the coronavirus is discovered, employers should make a practice of regularly monitoring CDC recommendations as well as local and state government sources for updated guidance as the situation evolves.