Not every business is able to maintain daily operations remotely, so employers must take additional steps to ensuring their employees have a safe work environment.
Q: I can’t have my employees work from home, what can I do to make it safer for them to come to work?
A: The Centers for Disease Control and the North Dakota Department of Health are encouraging business owners stay current on the latest information on COVID-19 and take precautions to reduce the spread. Simple steps, such as increasing routine cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, equipment, and other elements using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved disinfectants are helpful in maintaining a clean workspace. More information can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html
Q: How can my employees practice social distancing at work?
A: When telecommuting is not possible, employers should consider the possibility of staggering shifts or implementing flexible working hours. Discourage employees from sharing desks, offices, phones and other equipment.
Q: My employees interact with customers frequently. What can I do to protect them?
A: When possible, install physical barriers and minimize face-to-face contact by limiting the public’s access to specific areas of the business. Make tissues, soap, water and disposable towels, or disinfecting hand sanitizer, available for all customers and staff.
Q: If an employee calls in sick, how much information can I request in order to protect the rest of my staff during the COVID-19 pandemic? Is it okay for me to measure and employee’s temperature upon arriving to work?
A: The CDC, along with state/local health officials, have acknowledged community spread of COVID-19, so you may check employees’ body temperature as a precautionary measure for your staff. When an employee calls in sick during a pandemic, ADA-covered employers may ask the employee if s/he is experiencing symptoms related to the pandemic virus; however, information about the employee’s illness and medical record must remain confidential.
Q: Should my employees wear face coverings at work?
A: Social distancing and maintaining 6-feet between people remains crucial in slowing the spread of COVID-19. The CDC recently recommended that wearing a simple cloth face covering may also help slow the spread, especially in public settings where social distancing may be difficult to maintain (i.e., grocery stores, pharmacies).
The CDC has stressed that non-surgical and N-95 masks must be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders. Cloth face coverings can be made from common materials found at home.
Click here for instructions on how to make a cloth face covering.
Q: I am an employer in the retail industry and we have remained open in order to provide essential products to customers (i.e., pharmacy, grocery store, big box store, etc.). What can I do to protect my employees?
A: In addition to handwashing and routinely disinfecting surfaces (as mentioned above), there are steps you can take to increase distance between your employees and customers. Many stores have already used tape to demarcate six-foot distances in checkout lines. You may also consider installing plexiglass partitions at checkout stations, opening every other cash register, moving workstations, and utilizing drive-through windows or curbside pick-up. Consider allowing employees to wear masks over their nose and mouth to prevent them from spreading the virus and train them in proper hygiene practices. Most importantly, encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.