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Bringing Employees Back to Work in the COVID-19 Era

Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Bringing Employees Back to Work in the COVID-19 Era

As our nation struggles to save lives and prevent the spread of the coronavirus, many businesses are looking ahead to the day they are allowed to reopen. This decision is accompanied by many questions and risks most employers are not familiar with handling. You’re faced with many items of uncertainty.

“How do I bring people back without causing infection to spread in the workplace? What happens if one of our employees is infected? What do I tell my employees?” 

Reopening businesses is necessary to prevent the collapse of our economy, but employers must be sensitive to the fears and concerns of their employees. We’ve had a glimpse of this as the virus has affected essential employers and businesses working every day throughout this crisis. Unfortunately, many employers don’t know what can and should be done to keep employees safe and confident that their employer is doing everything they can to ensure their protection. As a result, absenteeism is rampant in many of these essential business operations, and many employees are filing complaints with OSHA regarding COVID-19 concerns. Some states, including Illinois, have recently indicated COVID-19 cases among essential workers as eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. 

Employers currently in operation, and those planning to resume operations, can take action to prevent the spread of the virus, while also addressing the fears and apprehension of their workforce. The foundation of all workplace-related virus efforts is the creation of an exposure control plan. A customized exposure control plan identifies vectors of disease transmission and the actions necessary to prevent the spread. Such plans address social distancing, equipment and tool disinfection, PPE, respiratory protection, employee density planning, employee and supervisory training, frequent audits, and plan modification-updating. The existence of a comprehensive exposure control plan, and support for concerned employees, will go a long way in managing virus-related issues in essential business operations, as well as those that will soon transition back to work. 

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.

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