By Kimberly Daise
Safety measures employers can implement to protect employees working include:
• Practicing social distancing and maintaining six feet between co-employees and other staff, if possible;
• Establishing flexible work hours, (e.g., staggered shifts), whenever it is feasible;
• Allowing employees to wear masks over their nose and mouth to prevent the spread of the virus. If employees do not have a proper (N95) mask, employers should provide them;
• Training employees on how to properly put on, use/wear, take-off and maintain protective mask, clothing, and equipment;
• Monitoring public health communications about coronavirus recommendations for the workplace and ensuring that employees have access to and understand that information;
• Emphasize basic infection prevention measures. As appropriate, all employers should implement good hygiene and infection control practices, including:
■ Promote frequent and thorough hand washing, including by providing employees, customers, and worksite visitors with a clean place to wash their hands. If soap and running water are not immediately available, provide alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol.
■ Encourage employees to stay home if they are sick.
■ Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of these policies.
■ Maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member. Employers should be aware that more employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than is usual.
■ Be aware of employees’ concerns about pay, leave, safety, health, and other issues that may arise during infectious disease outbreaks. Provide easy to understand information about all of these concerns and be available to address questions.
■ Encourage respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.
■ Provide customers and the public with tissues and trash receptacles. Also, limit customers and public entry to the business; the time present and require that masks are worn.
■ Discourage employees from using other employees’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible.
■ Maintain regular housekeeping practices, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, equipment, and other elements of the work environment. When choosing cleaning chemicals, employers should consult information on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved disinfectant labels with claims against emerging viral pathogens.
■ Be aware of employees’ concerns about pay, leave, safety, health, and other issues that may arise during infectious disease outbreaks. Provide adequate, usable, and appropriate training, education, and informational material about business-essential job functions and employee health and safety, including proper hygiene practices and the use of any workplace controls (including PPE). Informed employees who feel safe at work are less likely to be unnecessarily absent; and
• Encourage employees to report any safety and health concerns.