How do you keep your employees safe at work? 

As many states and localities ease or lift quarantine and travel restrictions, many employees are returning to the workplace.  As an Employer, this likely raises some questions for you as to how to keep your employees safe at work.  Both OSHA and the CDC have provided guidance on workplace safety during the pandemic. 

OSHA prepared a document entitled Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, which may be found here:    

https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf

The CDC has also issued guidance for employers, which may be found here: 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

These recommendations may now sound old hat to everyone now, but they bear repeating and reviewing now that the workforce is slowly returning.

There are a few takeaways that Employers may glean from these resources.

  The CDC has set out the following points:  

  • Actively encourage sick employees to stay home. Develop policies that encourage sick employees to stay at home without fear of reprisals, and ensure employees are aware of these policies.
  • Have conversations with employees about their concerns. Some employees may be at higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults and those with chronic medical conditions.
  • Develop other flexible policies for scheduling and telework (if feasible) and create leave policies to allow employees to stay home to care for sick family members or care for children if schools and childcare close.
  • Talk with companies that provide your business with contract or temporary employees about their plans. Discuss the importance of sick employees staying home and encourage them to develop non-punitive “emergency sick leave” policies.
  • Promote etiquette for coughing and sneezing and hand washing. Provide tissues, no-touch trash cans, soap and water, and hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Plan to implement practices to minimize face-to-face contact between employees if social distancing is recommended by your state or local health department. Actively encourage flexible work arrangements such as teleworking or staggered shifts.
  • Perform routine environmental cleaning. Routinely clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces, such as workstations, counter tops, handrails, and doorknobs. Discourage sharing of tools and equipment, if feasible.
  • Consider the need for travel and explore alternatives. Check CDC’s Travelers’ Health for the latest guidance and recommendations. Consider using teleconferencing and video conferencing for meetings, when possible.
  • Provide education and training materials in an easy to understand format and in the appropriate language and literacy level for all employees, like fact sheets and posters.
  • If an employee becomes sick while at work, they should be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors and sent home immediately. Follow CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting areas the sick employee visited.

Above all else, Employers will need to assure their employees that the Employer’s first priority is the safety and health of their workers and take affirmative steps to protect the team. 

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