**Article was updated as per CDC Guidelines September 15, 2020
Many areas around the country have started to lift shelter-in-place orders towards businesses. The CDC has created guidelines to help keep employees safe and healthy when returning to their workplace. Whether your business is in the Fortune 500 or is a local Mom-and-Pop, it’s important to stay informed of the best practices to prevent or slow the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace. Just because we are given the “green light” to go back to our offices and laboratories that does not mean COVID-19 is no longer a threat.
The top 3 measures to consider when reopening your business:
- Prevent and reduce transmission among employees
- Maintain healthy business operations
- Maintain healthy work environment
Staying up to date with current state and local health rules and forming appropriate responses is the key to creating a healthy work environment. The CDC states that employers should formulate a plan that can be implemented in case an employee contracts COVID-19. The plan should include actively encouraging sick employees to stay home without reprisal, conducting daily in-person health checks, such as taking an employee’s temperature each morning, implementing flexible sick leave policy for employees who may need to care for a sick loved one, and what action will be taken in the case that an employee contracts COVID-19.
Further precautions to keep employees safe include the following:
- Encourage employees, customers, and visitors to sanitize their hands and cover their faces to block coughs and sneezes such as face masks.
- Establish policies for social distancing (6 feet apart)
- Educate employees on steps they can take to protect themselves at work and at home
- Practice routine cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched objects (phones, door knobs, bathroom fixtures, etc.)
- Limit travel and advise employees that must travel to take additional precautions and preparations
- Minimize risk to employees when planning meetings and gathering by using video conferencing
- Check to make sure your office is well ventilated
Identify where and how workers might be exposed to COVID-19 at work. Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace. Conduct a thorough hazard assessment of the workplace to identify potential workplace hazards related to COVID-19. Use appropriate combinations of controls from the hierarchy of controls to limit the spread of COVID-19, including engineering controls, workplace administrative policies, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect workers from the identified hazards (see table below):
- Conduct a thorough hazard assessment to determine if workplace hazards are present, or are likely to be present, and determine what type of controls or PPE are needed for specific job duties.
- When engineering and administrative controls cannot be implemented or are not fully protective, employers are required by OSHA standards to:
- Determine what PPE is needed for their workers’ specific job duties,
- Select and provide appropriate PPE to the workers at no cost, and
- Train their workers on its correct use.
- Encourage workers to wear a cloth face covering at work if the hazard assessment has determined that they do not require PPE, such as a respirator or medical facemask for protection.
- CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering as a measure to contain the wearer’s respiratory droplets and help protect their co-workers and members of the general public.
- Cloth face coverings are not considered PPE. They may prevent workers, including those who don’t know they have the virus, from spreading it to others but may not protect the wearers from exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Remind employees and customers that CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Wearing a cloth face covering, however, does not replace the need to practice social distancing.
It is up to the employer to provide proper guidance for their employees in the workplace. For offices, this includes disposable 3-ply face masks, hand sanitizer and, if applicable, safety barriers between employees. At CP Lab Safety, we are dedicated to keeping you and your employees healthy and safe.
This information was compiled from the CDC, for more information about keeping your workplace safe please visit the CDC's website.
For CP Lab Safety’s complete line of COVID-19 PPE supplies please click here.