Your Future State and Your Employees – Mitigating Risk (PDF of Deck)
Questions and Answers from Webinar
Are you recommending employees be required to wear masks? Do you have any suggestions for monitoring social distancing? Kansas guidance currently recommends that all individuals wear masks in public settings, at least during phases 1 and 2 of the re-opening (to last at least until June 1). This is not a legal requirement; however, there is no harm in requiring employees to wear masks, and we would recommend it if they are in close quarters (less than 6 feet apart).
Some manufacturers are using high-tech solutions (infrared cameras, smart watches with distancing apps) to monitor social distancing. There is no requirement on this, but many creative solutions exist. The best recommendation we have seen to enforce social distancing is to involve various levels of employees in determining the employer’s stance on social distancing, (allowing influential employees to buy into the process such that they promote the effort to their peers – peer pressure), communicate the policy, (if possible in a fun way such as two life size posters of famous people 6 ft away from each other) and reiterate the policy frequently. Additionally, if you set up processes that keep employee separated during their shift, such as separating their physical work locations from each other, then you lessen the amount of time that you have to monitor.
Could there be any legal exposure or liability bringing employees back to work? Perhaps. Some employers are being sued for requiring employees to return to in-person work unnecessarily and/or failing to follow proper safety precautions, thus exposing employees to the virus. Kansas phase 1 and 2 recommends that employers continue to allow employees to work remotely if possible. A recommendation we can make is to plan your COVID-19 safety processes/plan, document it, and communicate it. It is in your best interest to have a record of prevention steps you have taken to keep your employees safe.
Do we continue to use the preventative safety measures that we are doing now. Review your safety measures to be sure they are working correctly, modify when needed, and continue to document the plans and policies and communicate to employees what you are doing to protect them.
How do we handle temperature testing on multiple shifts in order to be compliant with HIPAA and all HR rules? HIPAA usually does not apply unless the employer is a health care provider. However, temperature checks should be done in private (or you should take steps to ensure that the results are not shared/announced to any other employees) and any records that are kept regarding temp checks or screening questions must be segregated as confidential medical records (separate from the personnel file) pursuant to the ADA. Some additional recommendations are to have temperatures taken prior to entering the facility. Designate a few specific executive level employees to be responsible for taking temperatures. Ensure the temperature taker has been trained on taking temperatures and the equipment, and that the training is documented. Provide the temperature taker with PPE. Consider social distances practices for the line to have a temperature taken. Include in your COVID-19 employee plan what constitutes a high fever that will result in an employee being sent home. Also remember that there are a lot of unknowns about the virus. People without symptoms may still be infected and can transmit the virus. So, be sure to practice other recommendations for stopping the spread of the virus.
What if we decide we can continue keeping office staff working remotely - any rules saying we have to bring people back now? There is not – nor is there likely to be – a requirement to bring remote workers back to the office at any time. To the contrary, the Kansas reopening plan says employers should continue to allow/encourage remote work when possible.
Those employees traveling all over versus that are employees following guidelines, how do we handle those not following guidelines? KDHE currently expects that any individual who has traveled to New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Louisiana, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts or Rhode Island home-quarantine for 14 days upon returning. If employees do this, they would be subject to the quarantine order upon return, and arguably eligible for 2 weeks of paid “sick leave” under the FFCRA.
What do we do if someone is showing symptoms at work? Employees should be implored to stay home if they are sick, and you may send them home if they are exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
Do you have any strategies to calm fears, alleviate anxieties? Check out a blog article we posted that has some recommendations for this challenge. www.wearekms.com/blog/2020/04/29/six-ways-to-combat-fear-in-your-manufacturing-company
We are an essential small business and have been working, but wanting to know what we should do should someone exhibit symptoms? If someone is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, our recommendation is to remove them from the workplace and ask them to seek medical attention and get tested for COVID-19. The CDC states that employees who exhibit symptoms of influenza-like illness at work during a pandemic should leave the workplace.
What roll out phases are people using to bring employees back? Different manufactures are deploying in a variety of ways. One of the most common methods is to bring back employees based upon the critical need of their job function in the factory. Those who can complete their work effectively remotely are the last to be reintroduced into the work environment. Make sure to document your plan and communicate it. If some workers will remain off/furloughed, use objective criteria to determine which ones to bring back such as Seniority, Performance, Job title/classifications. Communicate clearly with employees who you are asking to return details such as Return date/schedule, any changes to pay, benefits, PTO, etc.
We are worried that we will bring everyone back and someone will bring COVID-19 in. We have had no cases, so far.
We want to be sure they are protected from COVID-19 both from contact with fellow associates and from public contact.
Managing external the risks. i.e. how do we prevent employees from bringing the virus to work?
How do we maintain a safe working environment and being safe outside of the employer facility and not bringing COVID-19 into work.
That is a valid concern. The best recommendation we have experienced is to create a plan for what to do in the instance you are notified someone is ill or if someone is displaying symptoms on the job. Document that plan and share it with your employees. Also train your employees about proper hygiene and preventative measures in the workplace and encourage them to practice the habits at home. This might assist in keeping cases from entering your facility.
Limit external visitor's access to your work facilities. Utilize a conference or video call if at all possible.
How often should break rooms and door handles be wiped down? We have recommendations to clean breakrooms before and after each shift break. It has been indicated that the virus can last on metal for up to 5 days. Door handles should be wiped down multiple times during the day, especially when employees are most active, such as the start of the day, shift changes, etc. Consider propping doors open or removing them in entirety if you are able.