CDC Provides Guidance for Bringing Essential Workers Back to Work

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The CDC has released guidelines regarding when people in critical infrastructure roles can return to work after being exposed to a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19.  To ensure continuity of operations of essential functions, the CDC advises that critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.

A potential exposure means being a household contact or having close contact within 6 feet of an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. The timeframe for having contact with an individual includes a period of time of 48 hours before the individual became symptomatic.

Employers are advised to do the following:

Pre-Screen: Employers should measure the employee’s temperature and assess symptoms prior to them starting work. Ideally, temperature checks should happen before the individual enters the facility.

Regular Monitoring: As long as the employee doesn’t have a temperature or symptoms, they should self-monitor under the supervision of their employer’s occupational health program.

Wear a Mask: The employee should wear a face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after the last exposure. Employers can issue facemasks or can approve employees’ supplied cloth face coverings in the event of shortages.

Social Distance: The employee should maintain 6 feet and practice social distancing as work duties permit in the workplace.

Disinfect and Clean Workspaces: Clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, and shared electronic equipment routinely.

Employers are asked to:

  • Send home immediately to any employee who becomes sick during the day.
  • Increase the air exchange in the building.
  • Increase the cleaning of commonly touched surfaces.
  • Test the use of face masks to ensure they don’t interfere with workflow.

Click here for a printable flyer to post at work.

The new guidance applies only to essentials workers and workers in critical infrastructure jobs defined by U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency guidance issued 3/19/20. This list is an advisory list, not a federal standard.

The CDC also recommends that employers should implement the recommendations in the Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 to help prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

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