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How Can an Employer Legally Protect the Workplace From COVID-19?

January 29, 2021

As COVID-19 continues to run rampant, businesses everywhere are struggling to stay open. If you have a company, you need to know how to keep your business open and protect your workers and customers from coronavirus. You have the obligation to ensure safety and take the appropriate steps so you can keep your business afloat.

Masks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, provides guidelines for COVID-19 safety, including wearing masks whenever you are unable to social distance. You may want to provide masks for your employees and mandate that both employees and customers wear masks while they are inside your establishment. Request employees sign an agreement that ensures they will follow the rules that you put in place.

Social Distancing

Social distancing guidelines are in place to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19. Indoors, you should set up work spaces that are as far apart as possible. Put rules in place to limit the number of customers inside at any given time. Enforce the rules by making sure that displays and aisles have plenty of room to allow for proper distance between people. Use floor stickers to direct traffic and properly space people while they are in line.

Set Up Sanitation Stations

Place sanitation stations at the front of the store and throughout the facility. Include hand sanitizer, wipes, and other items that customers can use to stay safe during their visit. Put up signs to inform customers of the rules before they enter your store. Install plexiglass guards at the cash register areas. Train employees to assist customers in safe ways and how to deal with customers who will not obey the guidelines.

Improve Air Quality and Circulation

COVID-19 is an airborne illness and it can be very easily transmitted. Indoor conditions can make it easier for the virus to travel. Therefore, you should check your HVAC system and ensure that it has the proper size and design to control airflow. HEPA filters may be helpful in some instances. If you have windows, you can open them to allow fresh air to circulate and prevent the recirculation of harmful substances. Consult with your HVAC company to find out how you can improve your system.

Clean and Sanitize Regularly

The rules will not matter if you do not conduct regular and thorough cleaning and sanitizing. You should clean and sanitize all the common surfaces of your building on a regular basis. Clean daily using cleaners that kill viruses. Hire a professional to deep clean the business at least weekly. Spot clean throughout the day on surfaces that are commonly shared by customers and employees.

Vaccinations

With COVID-19 vaccinations on the way, you will want to make sure that your employees receive the vaccine when it becomes available. Employers have a legal duty to maintain a safe work environment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released COVID-19 vaccine guidelines as they relate to the workplace. These issues can be complex and therefore, you may need to seek legal guidance to determine the best plan of action.

You can learn more about COVID-19 for employers through the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Contact our legal team at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. online or by phone at (608) 784-8310 to discuss your legal needs today.

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