Employers’ infectious disease programs should consider worker exposures and provide contingencies for a variety of scenarios.
Editor’s Note: Part 1 of this two-part series addressed employers’ obligations to ensure workplace safety for customers and employees.
As the coronavirus spreads across the globe, companies are identifying how to respond to their customers while protecting employees from the risks associated with the disease. This includes complying with state and federal guidelines relevant to maintaining a safe workplace and properly screening new hires for symptoms of COVID-19.
Elements of an infectious disease and response plan
Every employer should develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan to confront the pandemic. Considerations include where and how workers might be exposed — including from the general public, customers and coworkers — as well as workers’ individual risk factors such as advanced age, underlying medical conditions and pregnancy.
The plan should address contingencies for increased rates of absenteeism, the need for social distancing and other administrative controls, options for conducting essential operations with a reduced workforce (such as cross-training workers across different jobs) and handling interrupted supply chains or delayed deliveries. The employer also should consider developing policies and procedures for prompt identification and isolation of sick people.
Classifying worker exposure to COVID-19
Worker risk of occupational exposure to coronavirus may vary from “very high” to “low” risk, depending on industry type and the need for close contact with infected individuals. OSHA advises that most American workers will likely fall in the lower or medium exposure risk levels. [Read More @ Property Casualty 360]
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