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COVID-19 Safety Developments

June 5, 2020

By Michael Burns, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

On Monday the Governor moved to reopen that state by rescinding the stay-at-home order. Most businesses except for a few may now open by June 8th if not before (EO 2020-110). In the last week the state and federal agencies have moved to set up further reopening actions for employers.

During the week of May 18th, the Governor issued Executive Order 2020-91. This Executive Order (EO) outlined safety and health guidelines for employers that can reopen under EO 2020-92 as directed. The EO stated that all employers must have a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan as of June 1st or two weeks after reopening.  

The EO further detailed safety and health reopening guidelines for a number of industries included traditional outdoor activity businesses, construction, manufacturing, research laboratories, retail, office environments, restaurants, and bars. This applies when the state allows those areas of businesses to operate.

EO 2020-97 was issued just three days later and rescinded EO 2020-91.  It expanded the safety and health directives based upon new information from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). This new EO provides new safety and health guideline detail. Among other directives, the following excerpts from the EO apply to many ASE members:

  1. All businesses or operations that are permitted to require their employees to leave the homes or residences for work under Executive Order 2020-92, and any order that follows it, must, at a minimum:
    1. Develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, consistent with recommendations in Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, developed by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and available here. By June 1, 2020, or within two weeks of resuming in-person activities, whichever is later, a business’s or operation’s plan must be made readily available to employees, labor unions, and customers, whether via website, internal network, or by hard copy
    2. Designate one or more worksite supervisors to implement, monitor, and report on the COVID-19 control strategies developed under subsection (a). The supervisor must remain on-site at all times when employees are present on site. An on-site employee may be designated to perform the supervisory role.
    3. Provide COVID-19 training to employees that covers, at a minimum:
      1. Workplace infection-control practices
      2. The proper use of personal protective equipment.
      3. Steps the employee must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.
      4. How to report unsafe working conditions.
    4. Conduct a daily entry self-screening protocol for all employees or contractors entering the workplace, including, at a minimum, a questionnaire covering symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to people with possible COVID-19.
    5. Keep everyone on the worksite premises at least six feet from one another to the maximum extent possible, including through the use of ground markings, signs, and physical barriers, as appropriate to the worksite.
    6. Provide non-medical grade face coverings to their employees, with supplies of N95 masks and surgical masks reserved, for now, for health care professionals, first responders (e.g., police officers, fire fighters, paramedics), and other critical workers.
    7. Require face coverings to be worn when employees cannot consistently maintain six feet of separation from other individuals in the workplace, and consider face shields when employees cannot consistently maintain three feet of separation from other individuals in the workplace.
    8. Increase facility cleaning and disinfection to limit exposure to COVID-19, especially on high-touch surfaces (e.g., door handles), paying special attention to parts, products, and shared equipment (e.g., tools, machinery, vehicles).
    9. Adopt protocols to clean and disinfect the facility in the event of a positive COVID-19 case in the workplace.
    10. Make cleaning supplies available to employees upon entry and at the worksite and provide time for employees to wash hands frequently or to use hand sanitizer.
    11. When an employee is identified with a confirmed case of COVID-19, within 24 hours, notify both:
      1. The local public health department, and
      2. Any co-workers, contractors, or suppliers who may have come into contact with the person with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
    12. An employer will allow employees with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 to return to the workplace only after they are no longer infectious according to the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”).
    13. Follow Executive Order 2020-36, and any executive orders that follow it, that prohibit discharging, disciplining, or otherwise retaliating against employees who stay home or who leave work when they are at particular risk of infecting others with COVID-19.
    14. Establish a response plan for dealing with a confirmed infection in the workplace, including protocols for sending employees home and for temporary closures of all or part of the worksite to allow for deep cleaning.
    15. Restrict business-related travel for employees to essential travel only.
    16. Encourage employees to use personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer on public transportation.
    17. Promote remote work to the fullest extent possible.
    18. Adopt any additional infection-control measures that are reasonable in light of the work performed at the worksite and the rate of infection in the surrounding community.
  2. Businesses or operations whose work is primarily and traditionally performed outdoors must:
    • Prohibit gatherings of any size in which people cannot maintain six feet of distance from one another.
    • Limit in-person interaction with clients and patrons to the maximum extent possible, and bar any such interaction in which people cannot maintain six feet of distance from one another.
    • Provide and require the use of personal protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, face shields, and face coverings, as appropriate for the activity being performed.
    • Adopt protocols to limit the sharing of tools and equipment to the maximum extent possible and to ensure frequent and thorough cleaning and disinfection of tools, equipment, and frequently touched surfaces.
  3. Manufacturing facilities must:
    • Conduct a daily entry screening protocol for employees, contractors, suppliers, and any other individuals entering the facility, including a questionnaire covering symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to people with possible COVID-19, together with temperature screening as soon as no-touch thermometers can be obtained.
    • Create dedicated entry point(s) at every facility for daily screening as provided in sub-provision (a) of this section, and ensure physical barriers are in place to prevent anyone from bypassing the screening.
    • Suspend all non-essential in-person visits, including tours.
    • Train employees on, at a minimum:
      1. Routes by which the virus causing COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person.
      2. Distance that the virus can travel in the air, as well as the time it remains viable in the air and on environmental surfaces.
      3. The use of personal protective equipment, including the proper steps for putting it on and taking it off.
    • Reduce congestion in common spaces wherever practicable by, for example, closing salad bars and buffets within cafeterias and kitchens, requiring individuals to sit at least six feet from one another, placing markings on the floor to allow social distancing while standing in line, offering boxed food via delivery or pick-up points, and reducing cash payments.
    • Implement rotational shift schedules where possible (e.g., increasing the number of shifts, alternating days or weeks) to reduce the number of employees in the facility at the same time.
    • Stagger meal and break times, as well as start times at each entrance, where possible.
    • Install temporary physical barriers, where practicable, between work stations and cafeteria tables.
    • Create protocols for minimizing personal contact upon delivery of materials to the facility.
    • Adopt protocols to limit the sharing of tools and equipment to the maximum extent possible.
    • Ensure there are sufficient hand-washing or hand-sanitizing stations at the worksite to enable easy access by employees, and discontinue use of hand dryers.
    • Notify plant leaders and potentially exposed individuals upon identification of a positive case of COVID-19 in the facility, as well as maintain a central log for symptomatic employees or employees who received a positive test for COVID-19.
    • Send potentially exposed individuals home upon identification of a positive case of COVID-19 in the facility.
    • Require employees to self-report to plant leaders as soon as possible after developing symptoms of COVID-19.
    • Shut areas of the manufacturing facility for cleaning and disinfection, as necessary, if an employee goes home because he or she is displaying symptoms of COVID-19.
  4. Offices must:
    • Assign dedicated entry point(s) for all employees to reduce congestion at the main entrance.
    • Provide visual indicators of appropriate spacing for employees outside the building in case of congestion.
    • Take steps to reduce entry congestion and to ensure the effectiveness of screening (e.g., by staggering start times, adopting a rotational schedule in only half of employees are in the office at a particular time).
    • Require face coverings in shared spaces, including during in-person meetings and in restrooms and hallways.
    • Increase distancing between employees by spreading out workspaces, staggering workspace usage, restricting non-essential common space (e.g., cafeterias), providing visual cues to guide movement and activity (e.g., restricting elevator capacity with markings, locking conference rooms).
    • Turn off water fountains.
    • Prohibit social gatherings and meetings that do not allow for social distancing or that create unnecessary movement through the office.
    • Provide disinfecting supplies and require employees wipe down their work stations at least twice daily.
    • Post signs about the importance of personal hygiene.
    • Disinfect high-touch surfaces in offices (e.g., whiteboard markers, restrooms, handles) and minimize shared items when possible (e.g., pens, remotes, whiteboards).
    • Institute cleaning and communications protocols when employees are sent home with symptoms.
    • Notify employees if the employer learns that an individual (including a customer, supplier, or visitor) with a confirmed case of COVID-19 has visited the office.
    • Suspend all nonessential visitors.
    • Restrict all non-essential travel, including in-person conference events.

“The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued an alert listing steps employers can follow to implement social distancing in the workplace and to help protect workers from exposure to the Coronavirus.

Safety measures employers can implement include:

  • Isolate any worker who begins to exhibit symptoms until they can either go home or leave to seek medical care;
  • Establish flexible worksites (e.g., telecommuting) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts), if feasible;
  • Stagger breaks and re-arrange seating in common break areas to maintain physical distance between workers;
  • In workplaces where customers are present, mark six-foot distances with floor tape in areas where lines form, use drive-through windows or curbside pickup, and limit the number of customers allowed at one time;
  • Move or reposition workstations to create more distance, and install plexiglass partitions; and
  • Encourage workers to bring any safety and health concerns to the employer’s attention.”
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