This interim guidance is based on what is currently known about the transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person, especially between people who are physically near each other (within about 6 feet). People who are infected but do not show symptoms can also spread the virus to others. The CDC will update their guidance as additional information becomes available.
COMPANY Action Plan:
Update COVID-19 preparedness, response and control plan. COMPANY should implement and update, as necessary, a plan that:
- Is specific to the workplace
- Identifies all areas and job tasks with potential exposures to COVID-19, and
- Includes control measures to eliminate or reduce such exposures
COMPANY needs to consider how best to decrease the spread of COVID-19 and lower the impact to the workplace. This includes:
- Prevent and reduce transmission among employees
- Maintain healthy business operations
- Maintain a healthy work environment
Prevent and Reduce Transmission Among Employees
Monitor federal, state and local public health communications about COVID-19 regulations, guidance and recommendations and ensure that employees have access to that information. Frequently check the CDC COVID-19 website.
Symptoms of COVID-19
There are a wide range of symptoms reported in people with COVID-19 – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Below is a list of possible symptoms.
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.
Actively Encourage Sick Employees to Stay Home
- Employees who have symptoms should notify their supervisor and stay home.
- Employees who are sick with COVID-19 should isolate and follow CDC-recommended steps.
- Employees who are asymptomatic (have no symptoms) or pre-symptomatic (not yet showing symptoms) but have tested positive for COVID-19 should isolate and follow CDC-recommended steps. Employees should not return to work until the criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with healthcare providers.
- Employees who are well but who have a sick household member with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and follow CDC-recommended precautions.
Daily In-Person Health Checks (Screenings)
- Conduct screenings safely and respectfully and in a way that maintains social distancing of workers entering the screening area.
- Employees should not enter the worksite past the screening area if any of the following are present:
- Symptoms of COVID-19
- Fever of 100.4˚ F or higher or report feeling feverish
- Undergoing evaluation for COVID-19 infection
- Diagnosis of COVID-19 infection in the prior 10 days
- Close contact to someone with COVID-19 infection during the prior 14 days
- Make a visual inspection of the employee for signs of illness, which could include flushed cheeks, sweating inappropriately for ambient temperature, or difficulty with ordinary tasks
- The screener should wear a mask and wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or, if soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
- The screeners should stand at least 6 feet away from the employee being screened
- When conducting temperature and symptom screenings:
- Put on disposable gloves
- When non-contact thermometers are used and the screener does not have physical contact with the individual, the screener’s gloves do not need to be changed before the next check. Gloves should not be worn continuously for more than 4 hours. Gloves should be removed and discarded if soiled or damaged. After removing gloves, screeners should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Any PPE, including gloves, facemask, respirator, eye protection and gown should be removed and discarded if soiled or damaged.
- Follow guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding confidentiality of medical records from health checks.
- To prevent stigma and discrimination in the workplace, make employee health screenings as private as possible.
- Do not make determinations of risk based on race or country of origin and be sure to maintain confidentiality of each individual’s medical status and history.
Identify Where and How Employees Might Be Exposed to Individuals With COVID-19 at Work
- Conduct a thorough hazard assessment to determine if workplace hazards are present, or are likely to be present, and determine what type of controls or PPE are needed for specific job duties.
- Ensure all employees wear masks in accordance with CDC and OSHA guidance as well as any state or local requirements. This applies if the hazard assessment has determined that they do not require a respirator or medical facemask for protection.
- CDC recommends wearing a mask, that covers the nose and mouth and fits snugly against the sides of the face, as a measure to contain the wearer’s respiratory droplets and help protect their co-workers and members of the general public.
- Masks should still be worn in addition to staying at least 6 feet apart. Wearing a mask is not a substitute for social distancing.
Separate Sick Employees
- Employees who appear to have symptoms upon arrival at work or who become sick during the day should immediately be separated from other employees, customers and visitors and sent home.
- Have a procedure in place for the safe transport of an employee who becomes sick while at work. The employee may need to be transported home or to a healthcare provider.
Take Action if an Employee is Suspected or Confirmed to Have COVID-19
- In most cases, it is not necessary to shut down the office or worksite. If it has been less than 7 days since the sick employee has been in the office or worksite, close off any areas used for prolonged periods of time by the sick person.
- Wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting to minimize potential for other employees being exposed to respiratory droplets. If waiting 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
- During this waiting period, open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in these areas.
- If it has been 7 days or more since the sick employee used the office/worksite, additional cleaning and disinfection are not necessary. Continue routinely cleaning and disinfecting all high-touch surfaces in the office/worksite.
- Follow the CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations:
- Clean dirty surfaces with soap and water before disinfecting them
- To disinfect surfaces, use products that meet EPA criteria for use against SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and are appropriate for the surface.
- Always wear gloves and appropriate for the chemicals being used when cleaning and disinfecting
- Ensure there is adequate ventilation when using cleaning and disinfection products to prevent from inhaling toxic vapors
- Additional PPE may be necessary, depending on the setting and disinfectant product being used. Consult and follow manufacturer’s instructions for use.
Determine which employees may have been exposed to the virus and may need to take additional precautions:
- Inform employees of their possible close contact (within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection in the workplace, but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- The most protective approach for the workplace is for exposed employees (close contacts) to quarantine for 14 days, telework if possible and self-monitor for symptoms.
- Employers should counsel employees about the need to monitor for symptoms and immediately self0isolate if symptoms occur during the 14 days after their exposure and the importance of consistent adherence to all recommended mitigation strategies (e.g., mask wearing, social distancing, hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfection and proper ventilation).
- Although CDC continues to recommend a 14-day quarantine, options are provided for shorter quarantine that may end after Day 7 or Day 10 based on certain conditions:
- CDC recommends the following alternative options to a 14-day quarantine:
- Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring.
- When diagnostic testing resources are sufficient and available, then quarantine can end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. The specimen may be collected and tested within 48 hours before the time of planned quarantine discontinuation (e.g., in anticipation of testing delays), but quarantine cannot be discontinued earlier than after Day 7.
- Persons can discontinue quarantine at these time points only if the following criteria are also met:
- No clinical evidence of COVID-19 has been elicited by daily symptom monitoring during the entirety of quarantine up to the time at which quarantine is discontinued;
- Daily symptom monitoring continues through quarantine Day 14;
- Persons are counseled regarding the need to adhere strictly through quarantine Day 14 to all recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions. They should be advised that if any symptoms develop, they should immediately self-isolate and contact the local public health authority or their healthcare provider to report this change in clinical status.
- Testing for the purpose of earlier discontinuation of quarantine should be considered only if it will have no impact on community diagnostic testing. Testing of persons seeking evaluation for infection must be prioritized.
- Persons can continue to be quarantined for 14 days without testing per existing recommendations. This option maximally reduces risk of post-quarantine transmission risk and is the strategy with the greatest collective experience at present.
Educate Employees About Steps to Take to Protect Themselves at Work and Home
- Encourage employees to follow any new policies or procedures related to illness, cleaning and disinfecting and work meetings and travel
- Advise employees to:
- Stay home if they are sick, except to get medical care, and to learn what to do if they are sick
- Inform their supervisor if they have a sick household member at home with COVID-19 and to learn what to do if someone in their home is sick
- Wear a mask when in the office or on the worksite
- Wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or to use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. Inform employees that if their hands are visibly dirty, they should use soap and water instead of hand sanitizer
- Key times for employees to clean their hands include:
- Before and after shifts
- Before and after work breaks
- After blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing
- After using the restroom
- Before eating or preparing food
- After putting on, touching or removing cloth face coverings
- Avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of their elbow. Throw used tissues into no-touch trach cans and immediately wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
- Practice routine cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched objects and surfaces such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails and doorknobs
- Avoid using other employees’ phones, desks offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible. Clean and disinfect them before and after use
- Practice social distancing by avoiding large gatherings and maintaining distance (at least 6 feet) from others when possible
- Increase physical space between employees, where feasible
- Implement flexible work hours (e.g., rotate or stagger shifts to limit the number of employees in the workplace)
- Use signs, tape marks, or other visual cues such as decals or colored tape on the floor, placed at least 6 feet apart, to indicate where to stand when physical barriers are not possible
- Cancel, adjust, or postpone large work-related meetings or gatherings that can only occur in-person in accordance with state and local regulations and guidance.
- Use videoconferencing or teleconferencing when possible for work-related meetings and gatherings.
- When videoconferencing or teleconferencing is not possible, hold meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces continuing to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet apart and wear masks.
- Close or limit access to common areas where employees are likely to congregate and interact.
- Prohibit handshaking.
- Ensure ventilation systems operate properly and provide acceptable indoor air quality for the current occupancy level.
- Place touchless hand sanitizer stations in multiple locations to encourage hand hygiene. Provide tissues and no-touch trash cans.
- Place posters regarding Wellness Tips to help stop the spread at the entrance to your workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen. This should include signs for non-English speakers, as needed.
- Provide disposable disinfecting wipes so that employees can wipe down commonly used surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, keyboards, phones, etc.).
Discontinuing Home Isolation/Returning to Work for Persons with COVID-19
CDC has updated recommendations for discontinuing home isolation and precautions for persons with COVID-19 using a symptom-based strategy.
Persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:
- At least 10 days passed since symptom onset and
- At least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
- Other symptoms have improved.
A limited number of persons with severe illness may produce replication-competent virus beyond 10 days, that may warrant extending duration of isolation for up to 20 days after symptom onset.
Persons with COVID-19 who never developed symptoms may discontinue isolation and other precautions 10 days after the date of their first positive COVID-19 test.
A test-based strategy is no longer recommended except to discontinue isolation or other precautions earlier than would occur under the symptom-based strategy outlined above.
- Limit travel and advise employees, if they must travel, to take additional precautions and check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country where they will travel.
- Advise employees to check themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 before starting travel and to notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
- Ensure employees who become sick while traveling or on temporary assignment understand that they should notify their supervisor and promptly call a healthcare provider for advice if needed.
- After travel
- Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel and stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days; even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days
- If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected
- If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel
- Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days , whether you get tested or not
Provide employees with training on:
- Policies to reduce the spread of COVID-19
- General hygiene
- Symptoms, what to do if sick
- Cleaning and disinfection
- Social distancing
- Use of PPE
- Safe Work Practices