The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created new guidelines for how workplaces should prepare for welcoming workers back into the workplace.
The “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19” is not law, but it does emphasize that companies should keep in mind the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s General Duty Clause that requires employers to keep their employees safe from hazards that can cause death or physical harm.
The guidelines suggest that employers should create a response plan that addresses infectious diseases. This can include infection preventative measures, strict sanitation protocols, encouraging workers to stay home if they are sick, and offering flexible and remote working arrangements.
OSHA also recommends that employers be aware of how to identify workers who may be infectious by encouraging workers to self-monitor for signs of COVID-19, have a policy set in stone for workers to report when they are sick, have a plan for isolating people who may be experiencing symptoms, and provide face masks for workers.
Offering workplace flexibility is also encouraged during this time, so ensuring that workers are aware of their sick leave policies is essential. Employers should be open to offering flexible schedules for those who are sick, who may be caring for sick family members, and be empathetic to a workers’ individual situation.
Employers can also make workplace changes to keep workers protected as well, such as installing high-efficiency air filters and physical barriers, and increasing ventilation.