How can employers protect employees during the COVID-19 pandemic?
COVID-19 presents a difficult challenge to employers who have a legal duty to keep the workplace free of health and safety hazards. CDC guidelines for Employers outline several steps employers can take to safeguard their worksite.
COVID Workplace Hygiene & Sanitation
- Follow CDC guidelines and regularly clean and sanitize work surfaces (1)
- WHO advises to promote regular handwashing and other hygiene tips (2)
- Provide sanitizing dispensers
- Display CDC posters promoting hygiene and social distancing. (3)
- OSHA recommends increasing ventilation rates or installing high-efficiency air filters. (4)
COVID Corporate On-Site Testing Services
Consider offering on-site testing services such as COVID-19 PCR or antigen screenings or daily temperature testing to identify and isolate at risk employees. These screenings should be conducted by a licensed federal laboratory using experienced group of healthcare professionals: (5).
COVID Surveillance & Contact Tracing For Employers
Employers can implement contact tracing through a digital health monitoring app. The app requires all employees to report their symptoms electronically prior to entering the worksite.
- Employees download the USW digital monitoring app & create an account
- Before checking in to work employees take their temperature from home and record results
- No symptoms? Immediately receive a digital authorization to work
- Those who are moderate or high risk receive special instructions on next steps.
Educate Employees on New COVID Policies
Provide up to date education on guidelines, plans, operating procedures, and policies.
- Develop emergency communications plans and including a forum for answering workers’ concerns. (4)
- Review standard operating procedures, make sure they meet current guidelines, share with employees.
- Review employee policies and privacy regulations
COVID Social Distancing Policies for Employees
A safe and healthy work environment can be created by implementing some of these policies and practices:
- Stagger work shifts
- Provide access to remote work or telecommuting
- Virtual meetings
- Implement a no visitor policy
- Install barriers between desks or revisit seating arrangements
Support At Risk Employees
Employers will need to make certain that sick leave policies are consistent with public health guidance. One current policy is titled Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). On April 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced new action regarding how American workers and employers will benefit from the protections and relief offered by the FFCRA. To learn more, visit the Department of Labor site. (6)