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Protecting Your Workforce During COVID-19
April 9, 2020
by: Mai Lan Isler
Are you an employer wondering what to do to protect the rest of your essential workforce when an employee tests positive for COVID-19? On April 8, 2020, the CDC issued interim guidance for the following “critical infrastructure” workers.
Who are the “critical infrastructure” workers to whom the policy applies?
“Critical infrastructure” workers are employees working in:
- Federal, state, & local law enforcement
- 911 call center employees
- Fusion Center employees
- Hazardous material responders from government and the private sector
- Janitorial staff and other custodial staff
- Workers – including contracted vendors – in food and agriculture, critical manufacturing, informational technology, transportation, energy and government facilities
What does the guidance say about “critical infrastructure” workers?
- These critical infrastructure workers can continue working after potential exposure to COVID-19 as long as they have no symptoms and the employer follows precautions to protect them and the community.
- A potential exposure includes a household contact or having close contact within 6 feet of someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. Contact includes 48 hours before the sick individual had symptoms.
- Critical workers who have been exposed but have no symptoms must do the following before and during their work shift:
- 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. Follow these CDC guidelines for cleaning. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility-H.pdf
- If the employee becomes sick during the day, they should be sent home immediately. Surfaces in their workspace should be cleaned and disinfected. You should gather information on people who had contact with the ill employee during the time the employee had symptoms and 2 days prior. Consider any other employees with contact within 6 feet of the employee during exposed.
- Finally, the CDC added these reminders:
- Employees should not share headsets or other objects that are near mouth or nose.
- Employers should increase the frequency of cleaning commonly touched surfaces.
- Employees and employers should consider pilot testing the use of face masks to ensure they do not interfere with work assignments.
- Employers should work with facility maintenance staff to increase air exchanges in room.
- Employees should physically distance when they take breaks together. Stagger breaks and don’t congregate in the break room, and don’t share food or utensils.
This summary is based upon what we know as of this writing. No assurance of the completeness, comprehensiveness, correctness, or currency of the information is provided. The materials and information presented are not, are not intended to be, and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice. Receipt of the information alone does not create an attorney-client relationship. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult with a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your situation.