COVID-19 Exposure, Now What?
You’ve taken all the precautions. You’ve examined and re-examined all your policies and procedures to make sure that your worksite is safe and complies with all the CDC and state guidelines to prevent COVID-19 infections. Your staff is versed on the proper protection procedures, and yet with all these measures you still have employees who have tested positive for COVID-19.
So, what do you do now?
Both OSHA and the State of Pennsylvania have developed protocols for how to handle a worksite exposure and how to handle a situation where an employee has tested positive.
Even though you have taken all the personal safety and workplace precautions, being able to act quickly to identify and prevent infection is the first critical step in maintaining a safe workplace.
To start, employees should be properly informed of the policies and procedures regarding the symptoms of COVID-19, so they can self-monitor for any signs of exposure and what they need to do in the workplace if they are feeling ill. Additionally, workplace screening and testing (as appropriate) is a good front-line measure to mitigate the transmission of the virus.
Should an employee begin to experience symptoms of COVID-19 while at work, immediate isolation is the first step in the process to prevent further transmission. This involves moving a potentially infectious worker to a separate location away from other workers or visitors on the site. A designated area with closed doors, restricted access, mask wearing and social distancing is recommended until the employee can be removed from the job site.
Then, it’s important to further clean and disinfect those area(s) where the employee was working. If you can, wait at least 24 hours, or as long as feasible. Also be sure to clean and disinfect shared/common areas and equipment used by the sick employee. If possible, ventilate any areas by opening up door and windows.
A vital step in preventing further workplace infection is to quickly identify and notify workers who were in close contact with the sick person. Close contact means within six feet for 10 minutes or more up to 48 hours before the first symptoms appeared. Alert workers who have had close contact with someone that is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19. If they develop symptoms, send them home.
Returning to Work
There are also safety protocols to keep in mind in bringing back workers. Workers with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 can return to work after meeting all three requirements set by the CDC guidelines:
These guidelines are:
- 3 days with no fever
- Symptoms improved
- 10 days since first symptoms
These workplace protocols should allow for a certain amount of flexibility in bringing workers back to the job site.
For more information on managing safety protocols around COVID-19, Compliance Consultants, Inc. can assist with all areas of safety compliance.
Contact CCI at [email protected] or (610) 237 – 7100
Business Guidance for the State of PA
OSHA‘s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19