(Updated 05/08/2020)

 

The attorneys of Donnelly + Gross prepared a desktop guide on May 8, 2020 for our small and mid-size business. This guide outlines general direction for reopening the workforce based on guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). If you need a plan for your specific workplace, we can help.

We continue to closely monitor the situation and update this information to provide the latest workplace and legal developments related to Covid19.  We expect your questions and our answers will change as the situation develops. For answers to your specific questions and for the newest developments, please visit our website at  www.donnellygross.com/covid-19-resources/  and contact us at Donnelly + Gross at 352-374-4001 or directly by email:

 

Paul Donnelly          paul@donnellygross.com

Laura Gross              laura@donnellygross.com

Jung Yoon                 jung@donnellygross.com

Jim Brantley             jim@donnellygross.com

Cole Barnett            cole@donnellygross.com

 

We are here to support you.

 

 

REOPENING THE WORKPLACE: A DESKTOP GUIDE*

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

I.              DEVELOP A PLAN

A.   Workplace Coordinator
B.   Assess Exposure Risk
C.    Educate Employees
D.   Advise Employees Before Traveling
E.    Operating If Absenteeism Spikes

II.             MONITOR AND SCREEN EMPLOYEES

A.   Ask About Symptoms
B.   Take Temperature
C.    Sick Employees Should Stay Home
D.   Fitness For Duty Not
E.    Test For Covid19
F.    Hire Safely 

III.           REDUCE THE SPREAD

A.   Engineering Controls And Building Ventilation
B.   Flexible Sick Leave
C.    Social Distancing
D.   Personal Protective Equipment
E.    Clean And Disinfect
F.    Respiratory Etiquette And Hand Hygiene
G.   Meetings And Gatherings

 

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I.         DEVELOP A PLAN

A.   Workplace Coordinator

Identify a workplace coordinator to:

  • Develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan
  • Know and incorporate current and updated federal, state, local health agency guidance
  • Plan for
    • Increased rates of worker absenteeism
    • Social distancing, staggered work shifts, downsizing operations, delivering services remotely, and other exposure-reducing measures
    • Conducting essential operations with a reduced workforce
    • Interrupted supply chains or delayed deliveries

For more information, see: www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf

 

B.   Assess Exposure Risk

  • OSHA has divided job tasks into four risk exposure levels: very high, high, medium, and lower risk.

Lower exposure risk level

  • Jobs that do not require contact with people known to be, or suspected of being, infected
  • Jobs without frequent close contact with (i.e., within 6 feet of) the general public
  • OSHA recommendations for lower exposure risk level
    • Additional engineering controls are not recommended
    • Monitor public health communications and ensure that workers have access to that information
    • Additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is not recommended

Medium exposure risk level

  • Jobs that require frequent and/or close contact within 6 feet of people, e.g., schools, high-population-density work environments, some high-volume retail settings
  • OSHA recommendations for medium exposure risk level
    • Install physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards
    • Offer face masks to ill employees and customers
    • Ask sick customers to minimize contact with workers
    • Limit customers’ and the public’s access to the worksite
    • Restrict customer access to only certain workplace areas
    • Minimize face-to-face contact
    • Workers may wear some combination of gloves, a gown, a face mask, and/or a face shield or goggles

High to very high exposure risk level

  • Jobs with high to very high potential for exposure to known or suspected sources, e.g., doctors, nurses, dentists, paramedics, EMTs, healthcare or laboratory personnel collecting or handling specimens, morgue workers
  • OSHA recommendations for high to very high exposure risk level
    • Ensure appropriate air-handling systems are installed and maintained
    • Covid19 Patients should be placed in an airborne infection isolation room
    • Use isolation rooms for performing aerosol-generating procedures on patients
    • Provide emergency responders and other essential personnel who may be exposed while working away from fixed facilities with alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol
    • Wear gloves, a gown, a face shield or goggles, and either a face mask or a respirator

For more information, see: www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf

 

C.    Educate Employees

  • Ensure that your employees
    • Know and follow your policies and procedures related to illness, cleaning and disinfecting, and work meetings and travel
    • Take steps to protect themselves at work and at home

For more information, see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

 

D.   Advise Employees Before Traveling

  • Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance
  • Advise employees to check themselves for symptoms
  • Employees who become sick should notify supervisor and call healthcare provider
  • If outside United States, sick employees should follow company policy for obtaining medical care or contact a healthcare provider or overseas medical assistance company to assist them with finding an appropriate healthcare provider in that country

For more information, see: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

 

E.    Operate if Absenteeism Spikes

  • Monitor absenteeism at the workplace
  • Plan how to continue essential business functions with excessive absenteeism
  • Institute flexible workplace and leave policies
  • Cross-train employees to perform essential functions

For more information, see: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

 

 II.         MONITOR AND SCREEN EMPLOYEES

 A.   Ask About Symptoms

  • Employers may ask employees if they are experiencing symptoms, including fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat
  • Additional symptoms may include new loss of smell or taste as well as gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting

For more information, see: www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws

 

B.   Take Temperatures

  • The ADA allows employers to measure employees’ body temperature
  • Be aware that some people with Covid19 do not have a fever

For more information, see: www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws

 

C.    Sick Employees Should Stay Home

  • Employees who have symptoms should notify their supervisor and stay home
  • Employees should not return to work until the criteria to discontinue home isolation are met
  • Employees who have a sick family member at home should notify their supervisor and stay home
  • ·      Employees who appear to have symptoms at work or who become sick during the day should immediately be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors and sent home
  • If an employee is confirmed to have the infection, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the ADA
  • ADA does not interfere with employers following this advice

For more information, see: www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

 

D.   Fitness For Duty Note

  • ADA allows requiring doctor’s note certifying fitness for duty for employees returning to work after an illness
  • But be flexible as doctors and other health care professionals may be too busy during and immediately after a pandemic outbreak to provide fitness-for-duty documentation

For more information, see: www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws

 

E.    Test For Covid19

  • Employers may take steps to determine if employees have Covid19
  • Employer may choose to administer Covid19 testing to employees before they enter the workplace
  • Employers should ensure that the tests are accurate and reliable
  • Employers should still require – to the greatest extent possible – that employees observe infection control practices in the workplace
  • Testing is fast evolving, stay up-to-date on further agency guidance

For more information, see: www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws

 

F.    Hire Safely 

  • Screen applicants for symptoms
  • Take temperature as part of pre-employment exam
  • Delay start date if symptoms arise
  • Postpone start date or withdraw job offer if symptomatic
    • But do not postpone the start date or withdraw a job offer because the individual is 65 years old or pregnant, both of which place them at higher risk from Covid19

For more information, see: https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws

 

  III.         REDUCE THE SPREAD

A.   Improve Engineering Controls And Building Ventilation

  • Increase ventilation rates
  • Increase the percentage of outdoor air that circulates into the system

For more information, see: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

 

B.   Implement Flexible Sick Leave And Supportive Policies And Practices

  • Ensure sick leave and human resource policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and existing state and federal workplace laws
  • Ensure employees are aware of and understand these policies
  • Permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member or take care of children due to school and childcare closures
  • Employers should not require a positive Covid19 test result or a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick to validate their illness
  • Connect employees to employee assistance program (EAP)

For more information, see: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

 

C.    Social Distancing

  • Avoid large gatherings and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet)
  • Implement flexible worksites (e.g., telework)
  • Implement flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts)
  • Increase physical space between employees at the worksite
  • Increase physical space between employees and customers (e.g., drive through, partitions)
  • Implement flexible meeting and travel options (e.g., postpone non-essential meetings or events)
  • Downsize operations
  • Deliver services remotely (e.g. phone, video, or web)
  • Deliver products through curbside pick-up or delivery

For more information, see: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

 

D.   Personal Protective Equipment

  • Employers are obligated to provide workers with PPE, depending on
    • Occupation
    • Job tasks
    • Geographic location
    • Updated risk assessment
    • Updated information on PPE effectiveness
    • Check the OSHA and CDC websites regularly for updates
    • PPE includes gloves, goggles, face shields, face masks, and respiratory protection
    • All types of PPE must be
      • Selected based upon the hazard to the worker
      • Properly fitted and periodically refitted
      • Consistently and properly worn
      • Regularly inspected, maintained, and replaced
      • Properly removed, cleaned, and stored or disposed of

For more information, see: www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf

 

E.    Clean And Disinfect

  • Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails, and doorknobs
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean with detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection
  • A list of products that are EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes Covid19 is available here https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and disinfection products
  • Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment
  • Provide disposable wipes
  • If a sick employee is suspected or confirmed to have Covid19, follow the CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations

For more information, see: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

 

F.    Support Respiratory Etiquette And Hand Hygiene

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cover mouth and nose with a tissue or use the inside of elbow
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails, and doorknobs
  • Disinfect with products that meet EPA’s criteria

For more information, see: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

 

 G.   Take Care When Attending Meetings And Gatherings

  • Carefully consider whether travel is necessary
  • Consider using videoconferencing or teleconferencing
  • Consider canceling, adjusting, or postponing in-person work-related meetings
  • When videoconferencing or teleconferencing is not possible, hold meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces

For more information, see: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html


*This publication is for general information only and intended for clients and friends of Donnelly + Gross. It should not be relied upon as legal advice as the law related to each situation varies. Moreover, workplace law related to COVID-19 is dynamic and changing daily. The sharing of this information does not establish a client relationship.