As the world enters another week of fighting the coronavirus, businesses and employers can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by adequately preparing the workplace.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) first recommends businesses coordinate with state and local health officials to ensure timely and accurate information is being followed. In March the CDC published the Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) advising employers to adopt practices in one or more of the following areas:
- Reduce transmission among employees: Both the CDC and OSHA recommend actively encouraging sick employees or workers exposed to the coronavirus to stay home. Additionally, anyone coming in for a shift who appears to be ill should be separated from customers, employees, and visitors and sent home. Employees should be educated on how they can take actions themselves—washing hands often, disinfecting surfaces, etc.—to stop the spread of germs
- Maintaining healthy business operations: In their publication of interim guidance, the CDC recommends identifying an individual responsible for COVID-19 issues in the workplace. This workplace coordinator is tasked with implementing flexible sick leave and related policies/practices. If your business has been deemed essential and remains open, establish safe policies and practices for social distancing.
- Maintaining a healthy work environment: The CDC recommends maintaining a healthy work environment by improving the engineering controls using the building ventilation system. Ensure your facility is stocked with tissues, soap and water, hand sanitizers, and place posters to encourage hand hygiene. Discourage hand shaking, create routines for regular cleanings, and if an employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, enhanced cleaning and disinfection recommendations will need to be followed.
In addition to the guidance provided by the CDC, employers can find more direction on the OSHA COVID-19 website and OSHA guidance for preparing workplaces for COVID-19.
- What is the main workplace safety guidance employers should follow for COVID-19?
- How can healthy business operations be maintained?
- Do workplaces need an exposure control plan specific to COVID-19?
- How can transmission of COVID-19 between employees be reduced?
- Aside from cleaning, what can workplaces do to slow the spread of COVID-19?
- What is the difference between social distancing vs. quarantine?
- What are social distancing recommendations?
- How can workplaces clean the facility before opening?