THE GUIDELINES ISSUED BY CDC INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
Develop and implement appropriate policies in accordance with Federal, State, and local regulations and guidance, and informed by industry best practices regarding:
• Social distancing and protective equipment
• Temperature checks
• Use and disinfection of common and high-traffic areas
• Business travel
• Monitor workforce for indicative symptoms. Do not allow symptomatic people to physically return to work until cleared by a medical provider
• Develop and implement policies and procedures for workforce contact tracing following employee COVID-19 positive test
• Continue to encourage telework whenever possible and feasible with operations
• If possible, return to work in phases
• Close common areas where personnel are likely to congregate and interact or enforce strict social distancing protocols
• Minimize non-essential travel and adhere to CDC guidelines regarding isolation following travel
• Strongly consider special accommodations for personnel who are members of a vulnerable population
• Note the requirement to name a Pandemic Safety Officer who would be in charge of carrying out the COVID-19 safety procedures set forth in the guidance document. No roles or responsibilities were provided, however, JLN has developed an appropriate set of specific roles and responsibilities which will meet the intent of the Connecticut requirements.
The Connecticut Secretary of Health issued requirements including the following regarding temperature checking of employees:
This requirement for temperature screening is in alignment with the CDC guidelines issued on April 16 by the White House.
As to whether guidance documents issued by the CDC are requirements, i.e. mandatory, there is room for some debate. It appears that the CDC issued their plans as guidance to the states, to be considered in development of their plans. However, in the absence of state plans, what is the duty of employers to implement the CDC-issued guidance?
• Implement temperature screening before an employee enters the business, prior to the start of each shift or, for employees who do not work shifts, before the employee starts work, and send employees home that have an elevated temperature or fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Ensure employees practice social distancing while waiting to have temperatures screened.
OSHA’S GENERAL DUTY CLAUSE
Enforcement of worker protection standards for private industry companies falls to the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA). Without a specific legal standard on which to compel employers to take actions to protect employees who have the potential for exposure to the coronavirus, what enforcement actions can OSHA take?
There are a number of standards which could be applied as it relates to COVID-19:
• General Duty Clause (Section 5(a)(1) of OSH Act)
• 29 CFR 1910.132 (General PPE)
• 29 CFR 1910.133 (Eye/Face)
• 29 CFR 1910.134 (Respiratory Protection)
• 29 CFR 1910.138 (Hand Protection)
• 29 CFR 1910.141 (Sanitation)
• 29 CFR 1910.1020 (Medical Records Access)
• 29 CFR 1910.1030 (Bloodborne Pathogens)
• 29 CFR 1910.1200 (HazCom standard, related to use of hazardous chemicals for cleaning
and disinfection, including common sanitizers and sterilizers)
• 29 CFR 1910.1904 (Recordkeeping and Injury/Illness Reporting) – includes severe injury
reporting requirements with mandated $5000+ penalty and also whistleblower protections
• Section 5(a)(1) of the Act (General Duty Clause – GDC) requires that “Each employer shall
furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from
recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm
to his employees.”