In light of the current situation, all the more important for employers to be aware, proactive and mindful that identification of even a single positive case among employees may quickly develop into an outbreak. As outbreak circumstances and work practices vary, employers may need assistance from their local health department (LHD) to plan and coordinate a response to the outbreak that meets the needs of the workplace.
Along with the following guidelines employers should also consult:
- CDC guidance for businesses and small businesses for information on preventing outbreaks;
- Cal/OSHA guidance to ensure that they are complying with legal requirements for worker protection
Employers should prepare for prevention and identification of COVID-19 outbreaks in their workplace by doing the following:
- Designate a workplace Infection Prevention Coordinator to implement COVID-19 infection prevention procedures and to manage COVID-related issues among employees.
- Instruct employees to stay home and report to the employer if they are having symptoms of COVID-19, were diagnosed with COVID-19, or are awaiting test results for COVID-19.
- Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, chills, shaking chills, cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, body or muscle aches, loss of taste or smell, loss of appetite, diarrhea, or loss of appetite.
- Develop mechanisms for tracking suspected and confirmed cases among employees.
- Identify contact information for the local health department (LHD) in the jurisdiction where the workplace is located.
Notification and management of employees
- Employers must maintain confidentiality of employees with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection when communicating with other employees.
- Employers should notify all employees who were potentially exposed to the individuals with COVID-19. Employers should provide any healthcare consultations needed to advise workers regarding their exposure, which may be especially important for those with high-risk medical conditions (e.g., immune compromise or pregnancy).
- Close contacts should be instructed to quarantine at home for 14 days from their last known contact with the employee with COVID-19. Close contacts should be tested for COVID-19 when possible.
- Provide any employees who are sent home before or during a shift with information about what to expect after they are sent home (e.g., instructions about testing, sick leave rights under federal, state, and local laws and company policies, return-to-work requirements, etc.).
- In some outbreaks, but not all, employees who were never symptomatic and did not have close contact with any of the laboratory confirmed cases may continue to work, as long as the employer has implemented all control measures as recommended by public health authorities, Cal/OSHA, or other regulatory bodies. The LHD will make this determination based on strategies being used to control the outbreak and identify new cases.
Staying diligent at this time is key to maintaining a healthy and safe work environment.
OmegaComp HR will continue to provide information to assist our clients during this challenging time. Should you have any questions, please reach out to our Human Resources Department at 916-266-4370.