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What infection control protocols should businesses implement to reduce the chances of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus?

Engineering and physical changes to the workplace

·  Increase ventilation within the physical space.

·  Consider how products or services can be delivered remotely, or provide remote alternatives.

·  Modify the workplace to allow employees and customers to maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance. Signs, tape marks, or other visual aids can be used to help with the flow of traffic and keep people adequately distanced. Consider whether doorways can be labeled “entry only” and “exit only” to maintain single direction of foot traffic.

·  Display multilingual posters that encourage mask wearing and hand hygiene best practices at the entrance and throughout the workplace.

Administrative practices

·  Identify a COVID-19 coordinator who keeps up with updates, monitors the spread of COVID among the community and employees, and acts as the check-in person for visitors to the workplace to ensure they know the rules.

·  Minimize contact among workers and clients and discontinue non-essential travel.

·  Increase the number and/or length of breaks so employees have time for proper hygiene.

·  Encourage workers to take extra precautions when carpooling or using public transportation, limiting the numbers in cars when possible.

·  Provide training for workers on hygiene, COVID-19 symptoms, disinfection practices, and relevant policies.

·  Conduct daily in-person or virtual health checks, including screening all workers with a no touch thermometer for fever (≥100.4° F) at the beginning of shifts.

·  Ask workers to always self-identify any symptoms of fever, coughing, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell.

 

Work policies and equipment

·  Provide free personal protective equipment (face masks, gloves, face shields, etc.) to employees and customers.

·  Ensure that face masks are always worn when people are close together.

·  Encourage employees who are ill to stay home without fear of reprisals or loss of pay.

·  Implement flexible worksites, work hours, and meeting and travel options.

·  Use email, phone, and teleconferences instead of face-to-face contact.

·  Limit unnecessary visitors to the workplace.

 

Plan for when employees develop symptoms or are exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus

·  Immediately separate employees who appear to have symptoms from others.

·  Have a procedure for safe transport of a sick employee to home or healthcare.

·  Determine which employees may have been exposed to the virus and put them on sick leave. Ensure affected workers receive paid sick leave as required under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

·  Inform employees of their possible exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the workplace but maintain confidentiality.

·  Workers should notify their supervisor and stay home if someone in their immediate household has COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive. Workers who have been exposed should follow CDC Quarantine Guidelines before returning to work.

 

Sources and Additional Resources

·  CDC Resuming Business Toolkit for Non-Healthcare Employers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

·  Response Training Tool: Protecting Yourself from COVID-19 in the Workplace from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

·  Guidance for Retail Establishments from the Western New York Council on Occupational Health and Safety

This FAQ was written in consultation with Carolina PROSPER. For more information about their work in helping North Carolina businesses to survive and thrive during the pandemic, visit their website and follow them on social media (@NCOSHERC on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn). Their full report on Workplace Safety & Health During COVID-19 is also available here.

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