COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies for Small Business

Guest Author:  Ron Loveland, President, Summit Safety & Efficiency Solutions (www.summitsafetypro.com)

The #1 problem I’m hearing from manufacturers is getting workers to show up! Why? Are they making too much staying home with the $600/week supplemental unemployment? Childcare/family issues? Concerned about contracting COVID19 at work? As an employer, what you can control is the safety culture and safe work environment you provide to your workforce. Let’s take a look at the COVID19 mitigation strategies that OSHA, CDC and NYS Department of Health require to ensure their employees ’safety and some innovations.

 

 

According to Governor Cuomo’s directive in NYForward, businesses have to:

1. Screen

2. Provide physical distancing

3. PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

4. Enforce hygiene

5. Clean/Disinfect the workspace

6. Communicate

Let’s dig into these areas a bit deeper.

First off, each business is required to have a site safety plan which outlines its COVID19 protective measures and make an affirmation to the State that you understand NYS Department of Health COVID19 requirements.

Screening

NY State requires that you provide a daily health screening asking workers or visitors if they have:

(a) knowingly been in close or proximate contact in the past 14 days with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who has or had symptoms of COVID-19;

(b) tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days; and/or

(c) has experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 14 days:

• Fever or chills

• Cough

• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

• Fatigue

• Muscle or body aches

• Headache

• New loss of taste or smell

• Sore throat

• Congestion or runny nose

• Nausea or vomiting

• Diarrhea

(d) have they been out of State to areas designated by NY State as “hot spots” with high infection rates. If so, they have to quarantine for 14 days

Maintain a log of every person, including workers and visitors, who may have close or proximate contact with other individuals at the work site or area

Employees who are sick should stay home or return home if they become ill at work.

Provide physical distancing

For any work occurring indoors, the workforce presence is limited to 50% of the maximum occupancy for a particular area as set by the certificate of occupancy, excluding supervisors

Companies must ensure that a distance of at least six feet is maintained among workers at all times, unless safety of the core activity requires a shorter distance (e.g. assembly lines). Any time employees must come within six feet of another person, acceptable face coverings must be worn. Employees must be prepared to don a face covering if another person unexpectedly comes within six feet.

When distancing is not feasible between workstations, businesses must provide and require the use of face coverings or enact physical barriers, such as plastic shielding walls, in lieu of face coverings in areas where they would not affect air flow, heating, cooling, or ventilation.

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

Providing safety measures (face masks and hand sanitizers) is the most important strategy for the employee safety. As a minimum protection from COVID19, this should be strictly enforced. They should not have their masks on the chin and they should not be allowed to expose their nose.

Businesses must procure, fashion, or otherwise obtain acceptable face coverings and provide such coverings to their employees while at work at no cost to the employee. Companies should have an adequate supply of face coverings, masks and other required PPE on hand should an employee need a

replacement or should a visitor be in need. Acceptable face coverings include, but are not limited to, cloth (e.g. homemade sewn, quick cut, bandana), surgical masks, N95 respirators, and face shields.

Hygiene

Companies must provide and maintain hand hygiene stations on site, as follows:

o For handwashing: soap, running warm water, and disposable paper towels.

o For sanitizer: an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol for areas where handwashing facilities may not be available or practical.

• Businesses should place signage near hand sanitizer stations indicating that visibly soiled hands should be washed with soap and water; hand sanitizer is not effective on visibly soiled hands.

Clean/Disinfect the workplace

Companies must conduct regular cleaning and disinfection of the site and more frequent cleaning and disinfection for high risk areas used by many individuals and for frequently touched surfaces. Cleaning and disinfection must be rigorous and ongoing and should occur at least after each shift, daily, or more frequently as needed.

o Businesses must ensure regular cleaning and disinfection of restrooms. Restrooms should be cleaned more often depending on frequency of use.

o Equipment and tools must be regularly disinfected using registered disinfectants, including at least as often as workers change workstations or move to a new set of tools.

o If cleaning or disinfection products or the act of cleaning and disinfection causes safety hazards or degrades the material or machinery, companies must put in place hand hygiene stations between use and/or supply disposable gloves and/or limitations on the number of employees using such machinery.

o Companies must provide for the cleaning and disinfection of exposed areas in the event of a positive case of COVID-19 of a worker, with such cleaning and disinfection to include, at a minimum, all heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g. shared tools, machines, work stations, control panels, and keypads, telephones).

Communicate

As a leader of your organization, it’s imperative that you communicate these requirements that create a safe working environment for your employees.

Companies should develop a communications plan for employees, visitors, and customers that includes applicable instructions, training, signage, and a consistent means to provide employees with information. You may consider developing webpages, text and email groups, and social media.

Additionally, just like we frequently see reminders to wear our seat belts, placards, distance markings on floors, safety training and frequent verbal cues reminding workers to wear their mask, wash their hands, keep their distance, clean their workspace and report any exposure to illness are essential.

Stay healthy, stay safe!

 

Ron Loveland

President Summit Safety & Efficiency Solutions (www.SummitSafetySolutions.com)

Veteran Owned Small Business 631-642-7239 (o) 631-834-6216 (m)



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