Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health has issued an order requiring companies with continued in-person operations to implement and follow certain workplace safety measures.
The safety measures ordered by the Secretary of Health relate to employee social distancing, mitigating probable or confirmed cases of COVID-19 among employees, and additional safety measures for companies that are open to the public.
What Are The Key Social Distancing Requirements?
Employers are to provide masks to employees and require their employees to wear the masks at work. If an employee obtains or makes a mask on his own, the employer may allow the employee to use the mask if the mask meets guidance from the Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Employers should also stagger start and stop times for employees to prevent gatherings of large groups entering and leaving the workplace at the same time and provide sufficient space for employees to have breaks and meals while maintaining a social distance of six (6) feet, including limiting the number of employees in break areas.
What Measures Must be Taken if an Employee Has COVID-19?
If an employee is found to have a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19, an employer must implement temperature screenings before employees enter into the workplace at the start of their workday. Employees who have a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher must be sent home.
Employers must close off and ventilate areas in which the employee was present and clean and disinfect all areas. Where practical, an employer should wait a minimum of twenty-four (24) hours to begin cleaning and disinfecting. Employers must also identify and notify employees who were in close contact with the employee (within about 6 feet for about 10 minutes) during the period of forty-eight (48) hours before symptom onset to the time the employee was no longer in the workplace.
Employers should follow CDC guidelines with respect to employees who are sick or have been exposed to an individual with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
What About Employers Who are Open to the Public?
Employers who are open to the public are required to implement a range of safety measures, including conducting business by appointment only, if possible, encouraging the use of online ordering by providing delivery or outside pick-up, altering hours of business so that there is sufficient time to clean, and scheduling handwashing breaks for employees at least every hour.
The complete text of the Secretary’s order with the full list of required workplace safety measures can be found here. The order becomes effective at 8:00 p.m. on April 19, 2020.