The current pandemic is showing signs of improvement now that vaccines are available. However, there are still concerns regarding COVID-19 that employers should be aware of. COVID-19 variants that are more severe and contagious are being found in the U.S. Other concerns include making sure vaccination rates are high enough and address increases in COVID cases now that restrictions are being lifted. Considering these factors, it is important to keep employees healthy during a pandemic.
Employers need to make sure employees are safe and healthy under normal circumstances. During an ongoing pandemic, employers need to take extra measures to ensure health and safety in the workplace.
Here are five ways organizations can help keep employees healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Continue Meeting Normal Health and Safety Standards
Employers should keep maintaining regular health and safety standards in the workplace while implementing additional pandemic measures. These routine measures help cut down on illnesses overall. Routine safety standards still play an important role in protecting employees from illnesses other than COVID, as well as injuries. Employers should review regular standards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other organizations and ensure that they’re being met.
Stay Up-to-Date on Official COVID-19 Guidelines
The changing situation in regard to COVID-19 means that employers should check official guidelines on a regular basis. OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Disabilities Act (ADA) provide guidance to help keep employees safe on the job. For example, OSHA offers guidance on creating an infectious disease preparedness and response plan. This plan involves determining COVID risks in the workplace and identifying steps for reducing these risks.
The ADA provides guidance on legal matters involving ADA-covered employees. For example, employers can find out how much information they are legally allowed to request from employees who call in sick. Keeping up-to-date on official guidelines from these organizations is an essential part of ensuring employee health and safety.
Encourage Employees to Take Precautions at Work
Employers can help protect employees from COVID-19 by encouraging them to take precautions at work. For example, employers can make sure hand sanitizer is available at all times. They can also provide employees with personal protective equipment (PPE), such as disposable gloves and masks. Other precautions employers can encourage include avoiding gathering in larger groups in the workplace and socially distancing. Employers can also ask employees to routinely disinfect their keyboards, desk, and other objects they frequently touch.
Other precautions that can help employees stay safe include avoiding using other workers’ desks and supplies and not touching their face. These precautions can help reduce the risk of COVID. They can also prevent it from spreading if someone has an asymptomatic case.
Examine Leave Policies
Employers might deal with more frequent cases of employees needing time off from work during the pandemic. Some employees might need to take leave if they have COVID-19, especially a severe case. Other employees might need to take leave if they have to quarantine when someone in their household has COVID. In some cases, employees might need to take leave in order to help care for children or other family members who have COVID.
Employers should go over their organization’s leave policies and update or revise them as needed. The Hopkins Group provides HR solutions that help small and mid-sized businesses explore leave policies. Our solutions, such as expert HR guidance and resources, can also help businesses revise these policies.
Explore Work-from-Home Policies
Reducing the risk of a COVID outbreak in the workplace often involves cutting down on the number of people present. As part of an effort to protect employees from this virus, employers should explore work-from-home (WFH) policies. Allowing employees to WFH if possible helps reduce the risk of COVID among those who need to work in person. Exploring WFH policies and revising them as needed can also help in terms of quarantine. For example, employees might need to quarantine due to COVID exposure. Having WFH policies in place helps ensure that they’re able to keep working while preventing the spread of COVID.
Importance of Ensuring Employee Health and Safety
Employers who do not take measures to protect employees from COVID-19 in the workplace could face legal ramifications. Employees who end up being seriously ill or suffering long-term effects, for example, could decide to sue employers. Employees with disabilities or underlying conditions who have a higher risk of COVID complications could also seek legal recourse. In addition to protecting employees during a pandemic, employers can also benefit from experts who deal with these issues.
The Hopkins Group has specialists available to handle ADA claims for businesses and organizations. Our comprehensive HR solutions also include policy development and employee documentation. We offer employer forms and templates, along with access to HR resources. We can provide you with in-depth HR management and administrative services to help you keep employees healthy and safe. To learn more ways to keep your employees healthy during a pandemic, please contact us to book a free session.
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