What Steps Should Employers Take to Stop the Spread of COVID-19?
As COVID-19 has plagued the United States, business leaders in every industry have gotten a crash course in virus prevention measures. Unfortunately, for many, the information regarding best practices has been confusing or even contradictory. Whether you’re an employee, a manager or a business owner, it is critical to know about the steps that should be taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus at your workplace.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a simple list of actions that should be taken to lessen the likelihood that a worker will be stricken with COVID-19 on the job, such as:
- Separating employees who are ill — Waiting until a worker tests positive for COVID-19 could put co-workers and anyone else who enters your place of business at risk. An employee who has a fever, a cough or shortness of breath should be separated from others and sent home immediately. If need be, employers should evaluate whether sick leave policies require adjustment so that workers displaying symptoms don’t try to “work through” their physical problems.
- Informing workers about safe practices — Use frequent reminders and a variety of methods to make sure that everyone acts responsibly by washing their hands thoroughly, refraining from touching their face, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue that is immediately disposed of properly. During the course of performing one’s job duties, it can be easy for someone to forget these precautions, so send emails, post signs and discuss safety measures in person but from a safe distance.
- Establishing social distancing rules — Businesses have several ways to encourage proper social distancing among workers, customers and guests. In an office environment, occupied desks or cubicles could be set farther apart, which might be done along with employees staggering their work hours. Some workplaces, such as supermarkets, demand contact with the public, however. In these situations, floors can be marked to indicate how far individuals should stand from each other. Whenever possible, companies should find ways for employees to work remotely until the crisis passes.
- Increasing frequency and intensity of cleaning — Any surfaces that workers touch could create a hazard, so it’s necessary to focus on cleaning desks, keyboards, kitchen areas, doorknobs and other places that might come into contact with someone’s hands. Along with strengthening overall maintenance, it’s advisable to provide disinfecting wipes or hand sanitizer so that employees can protect themselves throughout the day.
Employees and managers should not hesitate to seek counsel from a qualified employment lawyer if a question exists about the rights workers have to do their job in a safe environment. Though the COVID-19 crisis is still in its early stages, it is likely that significant litigation will arise from these issues.
Contact an employment lawyer to better understand your issue
Smyth & Mason, PLLC provides counsel to clients on various employment law matters. Please call 206-621-7100 or contact the firm online to schedule a consultation.