Lots is going on in our society as it relates to COVID-19, and as an employer it is your responsibility to make sure you are doing everything you can to ensure the safety of your employees, clients and/or customers.
Many states are seeing a new wave spreading the disease, particularly in Wisconsin.
It is your responsibility to have protocols in place to protect and track your stakeholders. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), businesses and employers need to work in concert with their local health departments to ensure compliance with current guidelines, which are being updated frequently as new discoveries are happening.
As a business, you need to be aware of some of the basic facts about COVID-19, the responsibilities in responding to it, and some key things you should be doing to protect my employees from contracting the disease.
Basic facts about COVID-19
· COVID-19 is highly contagious respiratory illness that spreads easily from person to person, particularly during close contact (within 6 feet). It can be spread by airborne transmission.
· Though less common, COVID-19 also spreads through contaminated surfaces. If a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touches their own mouth, nose or eyes they can contract the disease.
· Symptoms can include fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, which may appear 2-14 days after exposure.
· COVID-19 rarely spreads between people and animals.
Role and Responsibilities of Businesses and Employers
To protect employees and prepare for business operational disruption employers can do the following:
· Identify a workplace coordinator (a person or team) responsible for COVID-19 issues and their impact on the workplace.
· Examine policies for leave, telework, and employee compensation.
o Leave policies should be flexible and align with the CARES Act which accounts for sick employees, caretakers for family members with COVID-19, and parents who need to stay home with children if there is school or childcare closure.
o When possible, use flexible or virtual worksites and/or staggered work hours to help enforce policies and practices for social distancing.
· Review leave policies with all employees and provide information regarding employee assistance services.
· Identify essential employees and business functions and other critical inputs or operations.
· Prepare business continuity plans to maintain operations in case of significant absenteeism, supply chain issues, or changes in the way you need to conduct business.
· Establish an emergency communication plan.
· Share your response plan with employees and clearly communicate expectations in the event of COVID-19 disruptions
One of the key responsibilities of a business is communicating and enforcing safe practices. Here are some things employees can do to protect themselves from COVID-19 and slow the spread of the disease.
· Stay at least 6 feet away from others.
· Cover your mouth and nose with a mask.
· Wash your hands often with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
· Avoid crowded indoor spaces and ensure indoor spaces are properly ventilated.
· Stay home and isolate yourselves from others when sick.
· Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
Aside from physical safety, it’s important to consider mental health ramifications. Many people are experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety, isolation and even depression during this time. Some struggle with existing in our new normal, so make sure you are socially connected (virtual, electronic, and telephone) with family and friends and take care of your emotional/mental health.
If you have specific questions or need help adjusting or communicating policies around the area of employee health and safety, reach out to me for assistance.