Workplace Safeguards

  • Designate a person in your office to check the CDC website daily to review the latest information on the spread of the virus and the CDC’s recommendations to employers and the general public.  This person should take responsibility for sharing this information within your entire company.
  • The CDC advises employers to emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand-hygiene by all employees using the following actions:
    • Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for use by employees.
    • All employees should cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available).  Don’t shake hands with others during this time.
    • Instruct employees to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-95% alcohol, or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained. Place hand rubs in multiple locations or in conference rooms to encourage hand hygiene.
    • The CDC has published a coughing and sneezing etiquette and has a clean hands webpage containing more information.
  • The CDC also recommends routine environmental cleaning:
    • Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label.
    • No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended by the CDC at this time.
    • Provide disposable wipes so that commonly-used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped down by employees before each use.
  • The CDC further recommends as follows:
    • Allow flexible use of sick leave policies during this time.
    • Talk with companies that provide your business with contract or temporary employees about the importance of sick employees staying home.
    • Employers should be aware that more employees will stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than is usual.
    • Use this opportunity to communicate with your employees about seasonal flu prevention strategies, such as minimizing contact, not shaking hands and engaging in sound hygiene and sanitation. (The CDC states that statistics demonstrate seasonal flu poses a far greater and more immediate threat to your employees’ health at this time than does COVID-19. 
    • Do not panic or overreact but rather engage in sound business contingency planning. Begin by developing contingency plans about how you will operate in the event absenteeism rates greatly exceed those of a normal flu season.  
    • Develop a plan for communicating with your employees if a major pandemic breaks out.  Plan for worse case scenarios now so you can effectively respond to what will likely be a rapidly changing situation. To do this, your management should anticipate and prepare for how you will answer the plethora of questions that will almost certainly be raised. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and similar state laws, employers have a general duty and obligation to provide a safe and healthy work environment, even when the work occurs outside the employer’s physical premises. Furthermore, under these health and safety laws, employers must not place their employees in situations that are likely to cause serious physical harm or death.  
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