Employers nationwide are struggling to cope with the developing situation regarding COVID-19.
OSHA and the CDC have issued preliminary guidance for employers and workplaces in coping with the instant epidemic. OSHA’s complete guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19 is available HERE. The CDC’s interim guidance for businesses and employers is available HERE.
In this alert, we are providing a brief overview of some of these guidelines and some additional practical guidelines for employers to follow, for more detailed and specific guidance, please read our article available HERE.
The CDC recommends that all businesses establish policies and practices for social distancing. Employers are encouraged to take reasonable steps recommended by OSHA and the CDC to prevent community spread in their workforces.
For many industries considered “essential”, remote work and “work from home” policies are not practical or impossible. For these industries, social distancing, hygiene, and screening are among the protective measures that are not only necessary to protect employees, but to protect the public at large and to prevent further disruption to operations.
Employers have the same basic responsibilities to their workforces under OSHA to protect workers from physical harm. However, certain industries have additional requirements based on the applicable risk level.
Employers can take the following steps to identify and isolate sick individuals:
If an employee is symptomatic or may have been exposed, send the person home for medical determination as to fitness/health or safety risk to self or others. Employers should:
All employers should implement good hygiene and infection control practices, including:
Employers working with outsourced staff and subcontractors must also consider what steps their subcontractors are taking to comply and ensure a safe working environment. Employers with union relationships must also coordinate with the union regarding any changes to the work environment, including screening procedures.
Peckar & Abramson, P.C.’s Labor and Employment Law practice has prepared thorough guidance to guide employers on how to handle situations involving potentially exposed employees, a summary of CDC and OSHA guidance for maintaining a hygienic environment, and when a workplace COVID-19 infection needs to be reported. For further information, please read our full guidance, available HERE.