The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued two recent guidelines to better prepare employers for reopening offices during COVID-19. The CDC suggests reviewing their detailed interim guidance as the first set of guidelines, which provides the proper steps employers can take to create a health and safety plan for employees returning to the office. Recommendations in the document include:
- Implementing flexible sick leave, supportive policies and practices, and how to communicate these policies best.
- Performing routine cleaning for workspaces.
- Educating employees on how to protect themselves in the office.
- Actions to take for separating sick employees, as well as sending home employees with potential or confirmed COVID-19 infection.
The CDC also recently published a list of safety precautions businesses can take to protect employees better and reduce transmission of the virus within office buildings. The CDC list of safety precautions for office spaces includes:
Evaluate the Engineering of the Building
- Before you can resume operations, you should conduct a thorough evaluation of the building to ensure it is ready for occupancy and free of hazards, such as mold growth or pests, and that all systems are in proper working order. Such systems include the ventilation and water systems that may have been shut down.
- Increase the circulation of outdoor air, open windows and doors, if possible, and use fans.
- Evaluate the building to get an indication of how you can safely layout the workplace to comply with social distancing measures. Making small adjustments, like creating barriers between close workplaces that cannot be rearranged, can reduce the risk of infection.
Examine High-Risk Areas of Potential COVID-19 Exposure
- Conduct a hazard assessment of the workplace to determine potential risks for workers.
- Identify high traffic common areas where employees cannot practice social distancing (within six feet) and will be in close contact with others.
- Determine what is needed to protect your employees, such as face masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer, all of which should be provided free of expense to employees.
Alter Administrative Controls
- Keep up-to-date on all state and local public health guidelines, and be sure to educate workers on the latest news through employee communications.
- Review your sick-leave policy to ensure it is consistent with public health guidelines and encourage employees experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to stay home. The CDC recommends that you can be around others after:
- At least ten days since symptoms first appeared and
- Twenty-four hours have passed after recovery without the use of fever-reducing medication.
- Other symptoms have improved.
- Consider allowing flexibility with work hours, especially for employees relying on public transportation that could travel during low-traffic times.
- Implement employee training on how to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, identify symptoms and actions to take if they are sick, clean and disinfect workspaces, and use protective equipment like face coverings, and safe work practices.
To help businesses navigate this difficult time, Inova Payroll has developed a detailed guide for employers reopening their business.
For information on growing through the challenges of COVID-19, read How Workplaces Will Build Resilience Through COVID-19.