The CDC’s Interim for Critical Workers Who May Have Been Exposed to COVID-19

The CDC published an interim guidance for critical workers who may have been exposed to a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

While we stay at home, critical workers have to go to work every day. The CDC published an interim guidance for essential workers and what they should do, what they should not do, and how they can continue doing their jobs while remaining healthy and safe.

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.

Essential workers need to be extremely mindful of potential exposure to the virus. A potential exposure means being a household contact or having close contact within six feet of an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. The timeframe for having contact with an individual includes the period of time of 48 hours before the individual became symptomatic.

The CDC recommends that critical workers who have had exposure but remain asymptomatic should follow the following guidelines:

  • “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 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, shared electronic equipment routinely.”

But there’s more to consider beyond these guidelines. If the employee becomes sick, they should be sent home immediately. Surfaces in their workplaces should be cleaned and disinfected. Other employees who had contact with the ill employee within the last two days of the employee’s onset of symptoms should provide information on their symptoms for monitoring. Others at the facility with close contact within six feet of the employee during this time would be considered exposed, said the interim.

Here are some general steps for workers to keep in mind in the workplace. Do take your temperature before work, wear a face mask at all times and practice social distancing in the workplace as work duties permit. Do not stay at work if you become sick, share headsets and objects used near the face or congregate in the break room or other crowded places.

Here are some steps employers can do to ensure their employees’ safety:

  • Take employee’s temperature and assess symptoms prior to their starting work.
  • If an employee becomes sick during the day, send them home immediately.
  • Test the use of face masks to ensure they do not interfere with workflow.
  • Increase air exchange in the building.
  • Increase the frequency of cleaning commonly touched surfaces.

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - June 2020

    June 2020

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