When should employees or visitors be excluded from the workplace?

During the COVID-19 pandemic businesses that have been deemed essential are permitted to stay open and serve customers. While operating, however, they need to take strict precautions to help minimize the risk of the virus being transmitted. Part of this is knowing when employees and visitors should be excluded from the workplace. While there is no law or direct regulation on this, the recommendations from the CDC and OSHA can easily be interpreted to help create an effective policy.

Excluding Employees from the Workplace

Employers need to be constantly evaluating their work environment to determine when employees should be required to stay home. Issuing clear policies to employees will help to avoid misunderstandings, which could result in people coming into the workplace when they shouldn’t.

The first, and most important policy should be that any employee who is themselves exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, or if they have someone in their home exhibiting symptoms, they should stay home and self-isolate. The CDC has released a list of symptoms as well as a COVID-19 symptom-checker tool to help people evaluate their symptoms. In addition, if someone has come into contact with anyone who has been confirmed to have coronavirus, they should also be required to stay home.

Excluding Visitors from the Workplace

All unnecessary visitors to the workplace should be excluded. This means employees cannot have family members come in to eat lunch with them. In addition, all non-critical site visits should be canceled. For example, giving a potential client a tour of a facility should be rescheduled to the future. In environments where customers come in to do business, the number of them permitted at a time should be limited to as few as is reasonably practical. Many businesses have set up lines outside the building with markings every six feet to help facilitate social distancing while only allowing a reasonable number of people in at a time.


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