What are the CDC guidelines for workplaces regarding covid-19?
Businesses and employers play a key role in preventing and slowing the spread of COVID-19 within the workplace. Employers should have a COVID-19 preparedness, response, and control plans. This plan should take into account workplace factors such as social distancing in the workplace, ability to stagger employee shifts, telework options, and sick leave policies like FMLA for a few examples.
Businesses should actively encourage sick workers to stay home and notify their supervisor if they feel sick to reduce transmission among other employees. Workers should not come into the office if they are feeling unwell.
Workers who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 should quarantine for 10 days and may be able to return if there are no symptoms. Workers should continue to watch for any signs or symptoms until 14 days after the exposure.
Fully vaccinated workers do not need to quarantine after an exposure unless they have symptoms.
Employers should educate and train their workers on basic preventative measures to take to protect themselves at work and at home. These training topics can include reporting procedures, social distancing where possible, wearing face coverings where required, proper hand washing, and routine cleaning and disinfecting.
These are general CDC guidelines, but if you would like assistance on developing a COVID-19 Prevention Plan specific to your business or industry, please contact us at Bizhaven.
Can I be forced to work during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Generally, your employer may require you to come to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, some government emergency orders may affect which businesses can remain open during the pandemic.
Under federal law, your employer must provide a safe and healthy workplace. The health of our workers should come first.
Under section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, a worker who refused to work would be protected from retaliation if:
- The worker believes that they faced death or serious injury (and the situation is so clearly hazardous that any reasonable person would believe the same thing);
- The worker tried, where possible, to get his or her employer to correct the condition, was unable to obtain a correction, and there is no other way to do the job safely; or
- The situation is so urgent that the worker does not have time to eliminate the hazard through regulatory channels, such as calling OSHA.
What should be done if an employee tests positive for COVID-19?
If workers test positive for COVID-19 they will need to quarantine and may not return to work unless:
- At least 10 days since symptoms first appeared
- At least 24 hrs. with no fever without the help of fever-reducing medication
- All symptoms of COVID-19 are improving
Keep in mind loss of taste or smell can continue for weeks or months after recovery but that doesn’t need to delay the end of isolation for that individual.
For workers, without symptoms at least 10 days need to pass after they tested positive before returning to work.
Workers who have been fully vaccinated and are symptom-free can end quarantine 10 days after they have tested positive.
As employers, we want to encourage sick workers to stay home to put the health and safety of the office first.
What are some recommendations for employers during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Of course, the main goal during the pandemic is to put your workers’ safety first.
A couple of recommendations to help accomplish this are the following:
- Develop and implement COVID-19 prevention policies and procedures. Cal/OSHA requires a COVID-19 prevention plan for all employers.
- Enforce workers to use proper face coverings and additional basic infection prevention strategies, such as social distancing, handwashing and sanitizing, respiratory etiquette, and employee screening, and cleaning and disinfecting, to name a few.
- Include a safety policy for requiring workers to stay home when sick or experiencing symptoms. Be aware of who needs to quarantine and what that timeframe looks like, which will depend on symptoms and/or vaccination status.
- Train workers in COVID symptoms and prevention and communicate your company’s specific safety policies and any changes as they occur.
What resources do workers have due to a COVID emergency?
If there is a COVID emergency in the workplace, workers should refer to their COVID Plan for direction. Bizhaven Safety Business Partners is also a resource in getting COVID questions and protocols answered. If you have more questions regarding Cal OSHA’s health standards, please reach out to your Safety Business Partner.