Multiple states have now reported cases of COVID-19 (now also being referred to as SARS-CoV-2). Although the CDC is still reporting that the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low in the United States, the virus is likely to spread. HCC takes the safety of your employees very seriously, and we wanted to provide you with information about measures designed to protect your workforce. We are monitoring this evolving situation and taking efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workforce.
Preventative Actions to Reduce Spread
As a precautionary measure, we are recommending that employees reduce the risk of exposure to the virus through increased hand and respiratory hygiene and by staying home if sick or with a fever. The CDC recommends the following routine preventative actions:
- Please stay at home if you are sick or have a fever (100.4 or greater). Do not return to work until you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important while at work.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a flexed elbow or a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early from your health care provider.
You will want to ensure that the regular cleaning of areas that are frequently used, such as bathrooms, breakrooms, conference rooms, door handles and railings, are being undertaken. While your cleaning service may focus on public areas; we encourage your employees to wipe down and disinfect their personal work area.
Recommended Guidance for Businesses and Employers
Employers may want to consider that all nonessential business travel should be avoided until further notice. Employees who travel as an essential part of their job should consult with management on appropriate actions. You may want to limit business-related travel outside the United States. The President has suspended travel from Europe for the next 30 days. Anyone returning to the United States will be screened and should self-quarantine for 14 days.
According to the CDC, a person may develop symptoms of the COVID-19 disease within 14 days of exposure. If an employee comes into work feeling sick with an acute respiratory illness symptoms, such as a fever, a cough, a sore throat or difficulty breathing, they should be instructed to go home and use paid leave, vacation, sick time, or other leave that might be available. The employee should return to work only once the symptoms disappear and you may obtain a return-to-work notice from their physician.
Social Distancing Guidelines for Workplace During A Further Outbreak
In the event of a local outbreak, your company could implement these social distancing guidelines to minimize the spread of the disease among the staff/customers/vendors/etc.
During the workday, employees may be asked to:
- Avoid meeting people face-to-face. Employees are encouraged to use the telephone, online conferencing, e-mail or instant messaging to conduct business as much as possible, even when participants are in the same building.
- If a face-to-face meeting is unavoidable, minimize the meeting time, choose a large meeting room and sit at least one yard from each other if possible; avoid person-to-person contact such as shaking hands.
- Avoid any unnecessary travel and cancel or postpone nonessential meetings, gatherings, workshops and training sessions.
- Do not congregate in work rooms, pantries, copier rooms or other areas where people socialize.
- Bring lunch and eat at your desk or away from others (avoid lunchrooms and crowded restaurants).
- Encourage members and others to request information and orders via phone and e-mail in order to minimize person-to-person contact. Have the orders, materials and information ready for fast pick-up or delivery if a face-to-face meeting is necessary.
Additional Resources from the CDC and OSHA: