The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have implemented guidelines with regards to protecting the health and safety of America's workers and workplaces during COVID-19. These are recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards and are intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthy workplace.
No Wait Medical Partners focuses on the need to follow appropriate guidelines during work shifts and while at home.
Assess the hazards to which your workers may be exposed; evaluate the risk of exposure; and select, implement, and ensure workers use controls to prevent exposure.
Frequent handwashing is the most effective measure in neutralizing the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Provide employees, customers, and visitors with a place to wash their hands. Soap and running water are effective with proper handwashing techniques. If soap and water are not immediately available, provide alcohol-based hand rubbing solutions of at least 60% alcohol. Ensure rubbing solution is regularly checked and refilled. Employees should wash their hands frequently as part of a work environment that promotes personal hygiene. Providing tissues, no-touch trash cans, disinfectants, and disposable towels for employees to clean their work surfaces is recommended alongside access to soap and rubbing alcohol solutions. Employees should always wash their hands when removing PPE. Posting hand washing signs in washrooms to educate employees and promote regular and proper handwashing. Ensure hygienic conditions in toilet facilities. Disinfect frequently touched and shared items including door handles, toilet seats, phone. Provide employees with ample time to wash their hands as well as access to soap, clean water, and single use paper towels. Proper washing time is at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Mandate handwashing for employees as soon as they arrive to work from their commutes.
Respiratory etiquette should be encouraged. Post signs and reminders at entrances and strategic places to instruct employees proper hand hygiene, COVID-19 symptoms, and cough and sneeze etiquette. Employees should wear a cloth face mask covering their nose and mouth in all areas of the business. Cloth face coverings protect co-workers from their respiratory droplets that may carry the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Cloth face coverings are not PPE, but they may prevent employees who are symptomatic and asymptomatic from spreading the virus to others but may not protect the wearer from exposure to the virus. Examples of PPE include gloves, goggles, face shields, face masks, and respiratory protection.
Clean high touch surfaces regularly. Frequently touched surfaces in the workplace can be workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails, printer/copier/scanners, drinking fountains, and doorknobs. Soiled hard surfaces should be cleaned before use with soap and water or a detergent and water before use. Cleaning materials such as disposable wipes should be provided to employees so they can wipe down frequently touched surfaces they interact with. EPA-registered household disinfectants, diluted household bleach solutions, and alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol are effective disinfectants for surfaces. Please follow the manufacturer's instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products for proper concentration, application method, and contact time. Consider ultraviolet germicidal irradiation as a supplement to disinfection.
It is the responsibility of the employer to assess the building is safe for occupancy. Ensure ventilation systems are operating properly increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible to dilute indoor air. Open doors, windows, and use fans to circulate outdoor air into the building if they do not pose a safety concern. Check for hazards associated with prolonged facility shutdown such as mold, pests, carbon monoxide, dust, and stagnant water. Take appropriate remedial actions where necessary.
Inspect your air filter housing and racks to ensure proper filter fit and minimize filter bypass. Replace filters and increase air filtration as much as possible. Consider natural ventilation. Dilute indoor air with outdoor air by keeping open windows and doors when safe. Consider using portable high efficiency particle air (HEPA) systems to improve air conditions. Consider HEPA systems more so in high risk areas.
Social distancing (standing apart 6 feet or two meters) should be adopted into the layout of the workspace. Flexible worksites such as telework, staggered shifts, shifting start times, and break times, and flexible work hours are encouraged in order to facilitate optimal social distancing environments.
Modify seats, furniture and workstations to better facilitate social distancing. Where social distancing is not an option, install transparent shields or other barriers to separate employees and visitors. Identify communal work and common areas where employees and visitors could have close contact breaking social distancing. Chokepoints should be identified and avoided. Arrange reception, breakrooms, meeting rooms and other communal seating areas by erecting barriers, removing seating, or rearranging the furniture. Use markings such as tape to indicate proper spacing and mark off chairs that are to remain unused to facilitate social distancing. Limit use and elevator occupancy to one person per trip if the elevator cannot support social distancing.
Encourage staff to seek means of transportation that limit interactions with others. If possible, biking, walking, driving, or riding with a household member is recommended over public transportation. Point employees to CDC guidelines on keeping safe on public transportation. Staggered work hours that will lessen employees' possible exposure during commutes is recommended. Employees are to wash their hands when they arrive from the commute. Employees are to avoid all non-essential travel.
Coordinate with delivery personnel, temporary employees, business partners, and contractors to minimize contact and follow workplace health protocols. Identify essential employees, business functions, and critical input necessary for continued operations. Prioritize business functions for continued operations. Implement business operations in phases. Keep external workers up to date with policies regarding social distancing. Alternate business practices may be needed. This includes alternate supply chains, prioritizing existing customers, or temporarily suspend some operations. Explore ways to keep operating if functions are disrupted and alternatives in your business continuity plans.
Virtual communications and telework are recommended to reduce contact and face to face interactions. In-person meetings should be shortened, and attendance numbers limited.
Rigorous housekeeping outlined above should be encouraged to enhance social distancing measures.
In offices, the CDC recommends using cloth masks to cover the mouth and nose. Keep in mind cloth masks only protect others from the wearer's respiratory droplets. PPE according to OSHA's standards are encouraged. Determine what PPE is appropriate for employees' specific duties. Select PPE at no cost to the employee and train employees on its correct usage. It is important that PPE and cloth masks are properly worn, handled, and discarded/removed. Upon removal proper hygiene protocols are to be followed.
Job hazard analysis should be conducted to assess how these measures can be properly adapted to your workplace.
Provide up-to-date signage, education, and training on COVID-19 risk factors, protective behaviour, hygiene methods, and cough etiquette. Train employees how to implement any new policies that may affect current health and safety practices. Clearly communicate to on-site workers, visitors, and contractors your safety policies and ensure they have the information and capability to comply. Training and communication should be easy to understand, be in preferred languages, and include accurate and timely information.
Train employees on the appropriate PPE to wear, and how to wear, maintain, and discard.
Employees should be trained on the symptoms of COVID-19, its spread, and about asymptomatic carriers. Employees should also be trained on what actions to take if they, or family show symptoms. Employees should also know what to do if they feel unwell in the workplace.
Issue a workplace coordinator who will be responsible for COVID-19 issues and communication.
Implement policies and training that discourage congregating in groups to maintain social distancing.
Employees are strongly advised to report safety and health concerns. Create effective communication systems that employees can use to self-report if they or their families are sick so you can communicate with other employees exposures and closures.
Prepare business continuity plans to maintain functions in case of disruption. This includes absenteeism, supply chain disruptions and changes in business operations.
Daily health checks are recommended. Develop daily in person or virtual health checks of employees before entering the worksite. Conduct health checks while maintaining social distancing. Multiple screening points are encouraged so testing can be quick and maintain social distancing. Encourage employees to self monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. Employees are also encouraged to report possible exposures. No Wait Medical Partners ensures ongoing follow-up of employees sent home who may be at risk. Privacy is encouraged during the screening and testing process to avoid stigma. Determining risk based on race and country of origin are discouraged. Employees who may be potentially exposed to others but show no symptoms should remain at home and social distance for 14 days.
If an employee is screened and signs of COVID-19 infection are found, clean and disinfect their work area, other areas they may have used, and objects they interacted with. Wait 24 hours before cleaning to minimize exposure from respiratory droplets. Isolate the area with tape markings, plastic barriers, and signs, If the 24-hour period of waiting is untenable, wait for as long as possible before disinfecting and cleaning. Clean with soap and water before disinfecting. Always wear gloves and gowns appropriate for the chemicals used. Additional PPE is also recommended.
Sick employees should not return to work until they have met the criteria to discontinue home isolation. Employees should be informed of possible exposure in the workplace but maintain confidentiality.
Employees who arrive showing symptoms or who become sick during work hours should be separated from others, provided a facemask if they are not using one, and sent home with instructions on how to follow up with a health care professional. Sick employees should not return to work until criteria to discontinue home isolation are met. Disinfect and clean after anyone suspected or confirmed.
Leave policies should be non-punitive and flexible. Do not require a doctor's note or official COVID-19 test result for sick leave or return to work. Medical facilities may be too overloaded to provide documentation.
Leave policies should account for employees with children who need to be cared for in case of school and daycare closures. Policies should also take in account employees with frail or immuno-compromised family members who would be susceptible to exposure. Uninfected employees with sick family members should inform management. Policies to allow employees to stay home to care for sick family members should be implemented. Sick leave policies should be consistent with public health guidance and with No Wait Medical Partners, and employees should be made aware of these policies. To address employees' concerns about pay, leave, safety, health, and other issues, employers are encouraged to work with state and local health authorities.
Contract and temporary employees should be educated on your policies concerning absenteeism. The external companies that provide them should be encouraged to also develop flexible and non-punitive leave policies.
Mental health support should be provided to all workers, including access to an employee assistance program (EAP) if available. Emergency communications plans should be developed, including a forum for answering workers' concerns and internet-based communications, if feasible.
No Wait Medical Partners is available to provide psychological supports, including mental health support, and psychoeducation.
No Wait Medical Partners enables safe and timely triage, antibody testing, monitoring, contact tracking and containment of suspected or confirmed COVID 19 positive employees. No Wait Medical Partners contributes to limiting exposure and risk management and enables contact tracing for suspected COVID-19 positive employees.
On your commute avoid public transportation if possible. Walking, biking, driving, or riding with a member of the household is recommended. Wear a cloth mask or PPE when travelling. If public transportation is a necessity avoid touch surfaces. If you must touch surfaces such as buttons, ticket machines, and railings. Use touchless payment methods if possible. Wash your hands as soon as possible for 20 seconds with soap under warm water. If water and soap is not available, please use a sanitizer of at leas 60% alcohol. Always try to maintain social distancing by avoiding groups and crowded places. Skip a row of seats between yourself and other riders. Exit through rear exits. Wash your hands as soon as you arrive at work.