Labor & Employment
The COVID-19 pandemic forced countless businesses into a near daily cycle of adjustments and adaptations, all with the overarching goal of protecting their employees while enduring the emergency measures taken to contain the virus. Now, states and local governments have begun to ease their blanket shelter in place restrictions. Is there anything businesses should do now while they wait for specific directives from state and local governments? Yes! It is imperative that businesses prepare NOW for the steps necessary to reopen to minimize any risk of any outbreak while optimizing their output and productivity. This alert will provide guidance as to fundamental steps any business needs to consider to safely reopen during the ongoing pandemic.
1. Identify a Workplace Leadership Team/Committee/Task Force (the CDC recommends each business identify a group who is responsible for COVID-19 issues and their impact at the workplace) that will:
- Monitor the ever-changing national, state and local guidelines regarding reopening for the related industry. The scope and application of shelter in place or stay at home orders may vary between counties and states. They should be reviewed and well understood prior to re-opening and also regularly monitored for further modifications.
- Develop a plan to comply with protective wear guidelines, social distancing, good hygiene postings, and screening for signs of illness upon entering the workplace.
- Develop an initial pre-opening action plan and draft pre-opening employee communications.
- Manage communications to employees and determine who will field questions related to reopening both internally and externally.
- Develop report channels so employees may notify the appropriate individual if an employee has symptoms or thinks they have been exposed to the virus.
- Develop business continuity plans if employees test positive.
2. Consider Workspace Reconfiguration and Safety Measures. What “re-opening” for your business actually means may depend on the physical layout of your workspace. The CDC and OSHA have
published guidance and strategies for employers seeking to resume “normal” or phased business operations which includes evaluating and altering the workspace to allow employees to maintain social distancing. Strategies include but are not limited to:
- Continuation of remote work options and consideration of mandatory versus permissive returns.
- Consideration of staggered work shifts.
- Increasing physical space between employees by modifying the worksite.
- Closing or limiting access to common areas where employees are likely to congregate and interact.
- Limiting access to restrooms and elevator occupancy.
- Using signs, tape marks, or other visual cues such as decals or colored tape on the floor, placed 6 feet apart, to indicate where to stand when physical barriers are not possible.
- Requiring employees to self-report daily temperature and symptoms.
- Creating a plan and schedule for enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched spaces and promote frequent hand-washing by employees.
- Providing sanitation products to employees at various locations throughout office or facilities.
- Installation of “hands-free” devices or foot handles on doors.
- Providing face coverings and other personal protective equipment (which includes communicating expectations and providing training for use of PPE).
- Determining who will monitor safety measures.
- Developing contact tracing methods.
- Limiting visitors and other third parties.
- Eliminating non-essential travel and business related activities.
- Documenting this plan and communicating it with all employees.
For additional information on how to prepare your business for re-opening in a safe and compliant manner, please contact Rhonda Nelson at email@example.com or Tara Mohseni at firstname.lastname@example.org.