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The Coronavirus Outbreak and Workplace Guidelines and Precautions

The Coronavirus Outbreak and Workplace Guidelines and Precautions

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that causes symptoms ranging from fever, cough, and shortness of breath to pneumonia, kidney failure, and death. Symptoms may appear between 2 and 14 days after exposure, although some infected individuals may be asymptomatic. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the disease is spread from person-to-person contact, mainly when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Check the CDC website and World Health Organization (WHO) regularly for updates. Place educational posters in key areas with CDC, WHO, or other public health organization recommendations.

Review current human resources policies and business continuity plans and procedures for communicable disease management and emergency response protocols. 

Reinforce sick leave policies and paid time off policies and remind employees to stay home if they are feeling unwell or exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus. Send employees home if they show potential symptoms of the virus while at work. Document the circumstances leading to remote work due to the risk of coronavirus.

Review communication measures to ensure information is distributed to avoid creating hysteria, reduce anxiety, and continue business operations.

Provide employees with information about how the coronavirus is transmitted, what its symptoms are, and how to avoid exposure. Reinforce good workplace hygiene measures, such as handwashing and disinfecting surfaces.

Provide masks, hand soaps, hand gels, tissues, and other cleaning products in key places.

Review governmental travel restrictions and suspend any nonessential business travel to an infected region. Consider reasonable alternatives to international travel, such as working remotely. 

Alert employees already in an infected region to seek medical attention if they present respiratory symptoms and fever and to follow the infection control precautions advised by the WHO and CDC. Advise employees returning to the U.S. from international travel that they may be questioned to determine whether any additional health screenings or quarantine may be required.

Consult with counsel before asking about an individual’s medical status. If you start an inquiry to determine whether employees may be symptomatic, ask all employees known or believed to have recently traveled to avoid any claims of discrimination. Note that the ADA prohibits employers from requiring a medical examination unless it is job-related and consistent with business necessity, such as a direct threat to the health of co-workers. 

Consider whether to invest in liability insurance to protect against claims for failing to protect others from exposure to infection at the workplace.

This information provided on this website is meant to provide general information and does not constitute as legal/ medical advice.

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