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April 13, 2020

New CDC Guidance On COVID-19 For Small Businesses, Employees Who May Have Been Exposed

On April 8, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance for “Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19.” Click here to access the CDC’s information. The guidance provides information for addressing employees who have faced a potential exposure to COVID-19 through a household contact or have had close contact with a confirmed or suspected case.

The CDC advises “critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to return to work following potential exposure to COVID-19 provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.” The CDC’s guidance lays out several important practices that must be managed prior, during and after the work shift as well as other considerations for an employee’s participation in the workplace.

Also last week: the Department of Labor announced that businesses will not have to consider confirmed cases of COVID-19 as recordable incidents for Occupational Safety and Health Administration record-keeping purposes unless there is objective evidence available to them that the cases are work related. OSHA noted that determining whether a worker contracted COVID-19 while performing work duties is difficult given ongoing community spread. This announcement provides regulatory certainty to the manufacturing and metals industries and helps protect companies from unfounded liability claims while allowing businesses to focus on hygiene and safety procedures at their facilities.

Interested parties can find the OSHA enforcement memo here.

Finally, the CDC also has developed guidance to help small businesses limit the economic and community impacts of an outbreak of COVID-19. This new guidance provides steps that are recommended to protect employees and prepare small businesses for disruption. A CDC fact sheet outlines 10 steps small business employers can take now to protect their employees’ health. Click here to review that guidance.

The stress of the COVID-19 pandemic—and working during it is likely taking a toll on employees’ mental health. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce created a “Cultivating Wellness in the Workplace: Approaches to Mental Health Training and Education” webinar to help companies help employees stay emotionally resilient at this time. A recording of the webinar is available here.