COVID-19 In The Workplace: Here Are The State's Guidelines For Dealing With The Virus At Work

From Lansing State Journal

As the country and the state try to reopen the economy after months of closures and shutdowns, the coronavirus continues to surge and disrupt businesses.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer indicated that further reopening of the state may be delayed due to increased spread of the novel coronavirus and on Wednesday stopped indoor sales of alcohol at many bars in lower Michigan.

Locally, COVID-19 cases have forced the closure of three bars in Greater Lansing for deep cleaning.

As people move about more freely and more businesses begin to resume operations closer to normal, here is what Michigan employees should know about COVID exposures at work.

Requirements for all businesses

Whitmer's Executive Order 2020-114 outlines how businesses should operate during the pandemic, offering specific rules for sectors like retail, restaurants and construction.

However, the executive order has blanket requirements for businesses "that require their employees to leave their homes or residences for work."

Upon identifying that an employee has a confirmed case of COVID-19, these businesses must inform the local health department and "notify any co-workers, contractors, or suppliers who may have come into contact with the person with a confirmed case of COVID-19" within 24 hours.

An employer can allow the person with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID back into the workplace after they are "no longer infectious according to the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention" and have been "released from any quarantine or isolation by the local public health department."

Employers are also responsible for establishing a "response plan" for confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the workplace, which should include "protocols for sending employees home and for temporary closures of all or part of the workplace to allow for deep cleaning."

Additionally, employers should  "conduct a daily entry self-screening protocol for all employees or contractors entering the workplace."

The test must include, at least, a questionnaire covering symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to people with possible COVID-19.

Here's a look at what else to expect, by industry:

Construction

Additional screening measures:  The construction industry must "conduct a daily entry screening protocol for employees, contractors, suppliers, and any other individuals entering a worksite." The screening must include the questionnaire covering symptoms and exposure to suspected or confirmed cases and, if possible, a temperature screening.

Notifications: Businesses working at a site, including contractors and subcontractors must notify other contractors and owners of any confirmed COVID-19 cases among employees.

Manufacturing

Additional screening: In addition to the questionnaire, the executive order mandates that the screening include "temperature screening as soon as no-touch thermometers can be obtained."

Notifications: Plant leaders and potentially exposed individuals must be informed upon the identification of a positive case of COVID-19 in the facility. Businesses must also maintain a central log for symptomatic employees or employees who received a positive test for COVID-19.

Employees are required to self-report the development of COVID-19 symptoms to plant leaders as soon as possible.

Further responses: Potentially exposed individuals are to be sent home and the plant is required to shut down areas of the facility "as necessary" if an employee goes home after displaying COVID symptoms.

Research laboratories

Additional screening: As with construction sites, temperature screening should be included if possible along with the questionnaire.

Reporting: Labs should "establish a clear reporting process for any symptomatic individual or any individual with a confirmed case of COVID-19." Lab leaders should be notified and a "central log" must be maintained.

Cleaning and exposures: The worksite of an employee sent home with symptoms or with a confirmed case of COVID-19 must be cleaned. In the event of a positive case at the facility, any potentially exposed co-workers are to be sent home.

Retail stores, libraries, museums 

Notifications: Employees shall be informed, that an individual, such as a customer or supplier, with a confirmed case of COVID-19 has visited the store.

Offices

Notifications:As in retail businesses, office employees are to be informed when an employer learns that an individual, including a customer, visitor or supplier, with a confirmed case of COVID-19 had entered the facility.  

Further protocols: Offices will "institute cleaning and communications protocols when employees are sent home with symptoms."

Restaurants and bars

Notifications: Restaurant employees are to be informed when an employer learns that an individual, including a customer, visitor or supplier, with a confirmed case of COVID-19 had entered the facility.

Closure and cleaning: Unlike with most other types of businesses, restaurants and bars must shut down immediately upon learning that an employee has developed symptoms of COVID-19. A deep clean of the facility, in accordance with FDA and CDC guidelines, must be completed. The cleaning process may be performed overnight. They are not required to shut down upon learning that a prior patron has tested positive.

Outpatient medical facilities

Clinics, primary care physician's offices, dental offices, and veterinary clinics are included under this classification.

Patient screening: All patients must undergo a screening process including a temperature check and questions about COVID-19 symptoms.

Special procedures: Special procedures shall be implemented for patients with high temperatures or respiratory symptoms to avoid exposing other patients. The procedures can include measures such as special entrances and having patients wait in their vehicles.

Examination rooms must receive a deep clean following a visit by a patient with respiratory symptoms.

While not mandated to close, the order requires that procedures for "building disinfection in accordance with CDC guidance" must be established if a case of COVID-19 is suspected or confirmed in an employee or patient.

In-home services

Daily screening: All employees of businesses that provide in-home services, like painting, repairs, and cleaners, are to complete a daily health screening.

Appointments: Accurate records of appointments and customer contact information are to be kept to assist with contact tracing.

Inquiries: Before entering the home, employees must also ask "the customer whether anyone in the household has been diagnosed with COVID-19, is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or has had close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19." If so, the appointment must be rescheduled.

Barbers/cosmetologists

Health department: Barbers, cosmetologists, tattoo parlors and other "personal-care" businesses must "cooperate with the local public health department if a confirmed case of COVID-19 is identified in the facility."

Appointments: Contact information for appointment and walk-in customers is to be maintained for contact tracing.

Sports and entertainment facilities

Employee training: Businesses in the entertainment industry, like sports arenas, theaters, night clubs and others, are to train employees on how to handle patrons who become symptomatic.

As of Wednesday most of the arenas and theaters in the state remained closed.

Gyms, recreation centers

Contact tracing: Accurate records of attendees and contact information are to be maintained for contact tracing.

Gyms and other recreation centers, except for those in the northern regions of the state, remained closed as of Wednesday.

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