Resources to Help You Deal With The Pandemic
COVID-19's interruption to business, both slow-downs and shut-downs, has created the need to re-examine protocols and processes as essential businesses try to continue operating under these difficult conditions. Additional issues have arisen as closed businesses begin to think about reopening and the need to keep their employees safe.
We've gathered together some resources below to answer your COVID-19 related questions and provide guidance as you create your re-opening plans.
We know that this is a difficult time as we try to navigate our new environment.
If you have questions that are not addressed here, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org,
and we will be happy to help.
FAQs From Our COVID-19 Webinars
Reducing Workplace Exposure to Covid-19
Q: What temperature should be used to determine fever in not allowing employees to enter?
A: Right now the CDC is recommending 100° F as the temperature to watch out for and have employees return home.
Q: How often do you recommend we clean and disinfect surfaces and equipment?
A: In order to decide how often to disinfect and clean you need to look at the circumstances and evaluate the risk level for the specific equipment and surface. So, for instance, if employees are sharing equipment, you need to make sure the equipment is cleaned between uses so that contamination is not shared from one employee to another. For situations where an employee uses the same tool for their whole shift, you may only need to clean before and after the shift. You will need to do a risk assessment first and decide what’s going to work for each individual situation.
Q: How do you know what risk level your facility is?
A: OSHA defines the risk levels for different employers on their COVID-19 website on their hazard recognition tab. OSHA categorizes the employers into different exposure groups based on that risk level. The groups are broken down into low-risk, medium-risk, high-risk, and very high-risk categories. It’s important to know that specific job duties that an employee performs could affect what risk group the employee is in, and that no single risk exposure level fits the entire workforce. You need to evaluate down to the specific task that employees are performing to determine what different risk levels might be applicable to your facility.
Q: Can we encourage employees to wear personal protective equipment or shared equipment and workspaces instead of setting up a cleaning protocol?
A: We wouldn’t recommend doing that instead of setting up a cleaning protocol. When we look at controls as safety professionals, we’re always going back through the hierarchy of controls and trying to use PPE as a last resort. So you should go through engineering and administrative controls first and apply PPE at the end. Using PPE alone isn’t going to eliminate the hazard. You need to disinfect and clean the surface to remove any germs that might be on the surface.
Q: Are there any additional controls or steps that you recommend?
A: Look at engineering and administrative controls. Look at OHSA’s website and look at the information that the CDC, OSHA, and local governments have available. Read OSHA’s publication “Guidance on preparing the workplace for COVID-19.” You can find it on their COVID-19 website. This gives additional guidance for control measures and breaks it down based on the risk level. Once you evaluate the controls in the document you can start to determine what other controls you might be able to implement at your workplace.
Q: What PPE should be worn while taking an employee’s temperature? Is a face covering adequate or is an N-95 needed?
A: If the employee was sick with COVID-19, you would want paperwork from the doctor clearing them prior to you checking their temperature. A face shield or face covering is adequate. If you have an N-95, you could certainly use that. You could also use a thermal scanning thermometer that checks people as they enter, which doesn’t require an individual to take a temperature.
Q: How often should we be cleaning door handles?
A: It goes back to the risk assessment. We’ve seen companies up their cleaning frequencies during peak hours. When employees are around more, you should clean them more. There is no set frequency from the CDC or OSHA.
Ask the Expert Live: The New Normal
Q: Where can I find information on how to develop my company’s COVID-19 return to work plan?
A: Government agencies, like CDC and OSHA have information online; and federal, state, and local governments have resources available. In Massachusetts, we’re also expecting more guidance and requirements that we’ll need to include in our plans after May 18th.
Q: What steps do we take if an employee does contract COVID-19?
A: The CDC has specific guidelines for what you should do. Basically, find out where the employee has been, shut down those areas, and clean them appropriately. They actually advise that you hold off cleaning them for 24-hours to give some time for the virus to die on its own, and then clean. Check the CDC guidance because it’s specific to the situation.
Q: Do you recommend the use of gloves as an additional control in trying to prevent exposure to COVID-19?
A: We do not recommend using gloves as a control. The biggest problem is that they often create a false sense of security. They don't prevent you from touching your face or contaminating other surfaces. We do recommend sticking with good hygiene practices, such as washing your hands. You should want to wear gloves for processes that require gloves in the first place and for cleaning and disinfecting the facility.
Q: Where can we get PPE and other equipment or supplies that might have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak?
A: Unfortunately, there is no magic answer for where you can get those supplies. Check with your original supplier first. We have also seen local Chambers of Commerce that have put together plans where you can team up with other organizations and buy with them. This gives you a little more buying power and hopefully allows you to fulfill your order. Some companies make masks in-house if they can, but you want to make sure that they’re going to actually protect the employee, so checking out and meeting the specs is key if you want to do that.
Q: Can employers ask employees that are coming into the workplace whether they’ve had COVID-19 or have symptoms associated with the virus?
A: Due to the current pandemic, it is within the employer’s right to screen employees coming into the facility. That includes taking temperatures and asking employees if they’re exhibiting symptoms. It is important to honor the employee’s privacy during the screening process, so we recommend using a privacy screen or other barrier. Also consult your HR department who will help you comply with any employee privacy laws.
Ask the Expert Live: Maintaining Safety & Sanity While Working From Home
Q: How do you manage to work from home with young kids and schoolwork to complete with them & how do you separate and commit to both?
A: To help answer this question we reached out to our staff for tips or recommendations for balancing working from home while also taking care of your kids, so key take away were:
Talk to your employer about your challenges.
Be honest with your employer and yourself with what you can realistically accomplish during the day. It is pretty difficult to home school, care for children’s needs and work a full 40 hour week especially if you have younger kids
Be flexible- staff mentioned that creating and following a routine was helpful but you need to be prepared to be flexible just in case something comes up
Everyone’s particular situation is going to be different
folks are experiencing “all or nothing”- either your job is overloaded or shut off completely- either you’re balancing too much or you’re searching for activities to fill your day.
Block windows of time for time where you will focus on taking care of your kids and time where you will focus on work
Communicate your schedule with coworkers and don’t be afraid to ask for help and lean on other
Q: What methods and approach would you take for assessing home workstations?
A: Start by having a conversation with employees that are working home, ask them to describe their office setup and what equipment that have. You can even ask them to send you a picture of their setup if that’s helpful. It’s also good to ask if they are experiencing any new discomforts since working from home as this would be a clear indicator that some type of adjustments is needed
Once you have a sense for what their setup looks like and how it might differ from their office setup in the workplace you can start to get an idea is improvements or additional equipment is needed
You’ll get a copy of our guidelines for ergonomically correct home office after the webinar and you can share it with your employees to help walk them through assessing their setup and identifying improvement opportunities
Q: What are some easy ergonomic improvements that I can accomplish without spending money on new
Don’t work from your couch - establish a workstation
If your chair does not have lumbar support, you can place a pillow or rolled up towel behind you for lower back support.
if your eye is not level with the top of the screen raise your monitor height with books or boxes.
If your feet don’t rest flat on the floor use a box to rest your feet on
Arrange your workstation into the three “work zones” we talked about during the presentation:
Primary work zone - Keyboard, mouse
Secondary zone- Phone, documents
Reference zone - Calculator, pens