COVID-19 has affected and changed how we perform any daily routine, including how many of us do our jobs remotely or at the workplace However, through vaccine breakthroughs on the horizon for getting through this pandemic, or for employers who need to resume or maintain operations, we have to begin thinking about how we safely return to the workplace.
Employee safety is the highest priority, and OSHA (occupational safety and health administration) has created a guide. As an employer, you can ensure your employees’ health and safety as they return back to work or next n continuation of their job duties
Employers are responsible for monitoring federal, state, tribal, territorial, or other local government guidelines regarding their community’s transmission of COVID-19. This responsibility includes understanding the necessary disinfection and best practices that must be installed for employee safety.”, including CDC Guidelines.
Employee safety at your workplace requires basic hygiene strategies, such as disinfecting areas, extra cleaning of places, wearing a face covering and hand hygiene. These safety measures will also require a process for employees to social distance, isolate sick employees, and train employees appropriately for these new guidelines. Employees in the workplace will experience some stress and will want to see and know they will be working under safe conditions.
Employee Safety Requires Monitoring Exposure Risks
Employers should develop policies and procedures to address monitoring and preventing a resurgence of COVID-19 in the workplace. To ensure employee safety, employers will want to continue practicing these safety measures to prevent a resurgence. Resurgence will lead to needing enhanced disinfection practices, contact tracing of individuals who have visited the workplace, and possibly closure of your business.
Employee Safety Guidance in the Workplace
As an employer, these are conditions you should address:
- Hazard Assessment– Determine where, when, and how sources of COVID-19 could become exposed in the course of your employee’s job duties
- Hygiene– Create a standard practice for employees to wash their hands and perform proper respiratory etiquette. There should also be a disinfection and cleaning protocol established within work areas
- Social Distancing– Make it possible for employees to maintain a safe distance between one another, including customers and visitors
- Identification and Isolation of the Sick– Create a practice for self-monitoring, isolating, and screening employees. You should also establish guidelines for employees staying away from work if showing or experiencing and signs of COVID-19
- Return to the Workplace After Recovery– To maintain your employee safety, you will want a standard practice in place for workers returning to the workplace after they’ve recovered from COVID-19
- Engineering and Administrative Controls- Implement appropriate engineering controls, such as physical barriers or shields, along with enhanced ventilation. Administrative controls should include limiting break room capacities or replacing in-person meeting with video-conference calls
- Flexibilities in the Workplace- Look at your existing policies regarding sick leave and other forms of leave as well as your telework policies to see if modifications are needed
- Training to Ensure Employee Safety- Employees should receive training on how to detect risk factors and symptoms of COVID-19. You should provide training on how to prevent the spread of the virus
- Retaliatory Action- Employee safety will also include ensuring there are no adverse actions taken against an employee for following these guidelines or who raise concerns regarding the employee safety measures.
Employees may appear as your highest expense, especially when facing all the new changes having to be put in place to protect employee safety against COVID-19. These are not an area where you want to cut corners to save money as legal claims could be brought against your company. If you find yourself in a legal battle with an employee, contact Danz Law at [email protected] to protect yourself and your business from employment litigation.