When Employee Tests Positive
As you begin to reopen your business for customers, there is the possibility that an employee or team member will come down with symptoms consistent with the novel coronavirus.
If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, it is vital that you have a plan for how you, your team, and your business will respond.
The following guidelines are built from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employees.
4 Steps To Take When An Employee Tests Positive For COVID-19
- Immediate Response To A Positive Test
- Steps To Protect Other Team Members & Customers
- Response For The Business Environment
- A Swift Response Is A Safe Response
1. Immediate Response To A Positive Test
● Employees who have COVID-19 symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, or shortness of breath) should notify their supervisor and stay home.
● Employees who appear to have symptoms upon arrival at work or who become sick during the day should immediately be separated from other employees, customers, vendors, and visitors, and sent home.
● Sick employees should follow the CDC-recommended steps. Employees should not return to work until the criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments.
● Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and follow CDC recommended precautions.
2. Steps To Protect Other Team Members & Customers
● If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure but maintain confidentiality as required by the
● Americans with Disabilities Act.
● Fellow employees should self-monitor for symptoms.
● Identify where the infected employee worked, as well as those individuals—including colleagues, customers, visitors, and vendors—the infected employee came into contact with during the 14 days prior to testing positive or first displaying symptoms.
● Employers should notify affected customers, visitors, and vendors and instruct those employees who came into contact with the sick employee within the 14 day period to go home and self-isolate for 14 days, working remotely if possible.
● Employees should not return to work until the criteria to discontinue home isolation are met. 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.
● OSHA recordkeeping requirements mandate covered employers to record certain work-related injuries and illnesses on their OSHA 300 log.
OSHA released new guidance on May 19 that employers are responsible for recording a COVID-19 case if it is confirmed as a COVID-19 illness; it is work-related; and involves one or more of the general recording criteria, such as medical treatment beyond first aid or days away from work.
3. Response For The Business Environment
● Based on the size of the workplace and the potential breadth of exposure to coronavirus, the employer should consider closing immediately, coordinating with employees to work remotely if possible.
● Perform enhanced cleaning and disinfection after persons suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 have been in your facility, following CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations.
● Employers should develop policies for worker protection and provide training to all cleaning staff on-site prior to providing cleaning tasks.
Training should include when to use personal protective equipment, what PPE is necessary, how to properly wear, use, and take off PPE, and how to properly dispose of PPE.
● Employers must ensure workers are trained on the hazards of the cleaning chemicals used in the workplace in accordance with appropriate OSHA standards.
● Collaborate with local and state health departments to ensure appropriate protocols and guidelines, such as updated/additional guidance for cleaning and disinfection, are followed, including for identification of new potential cases of COVID-19.
4. A Swift Response Is A Safe Response
In a quickly changing world, having a contingency plan in place to address employee illness will speak volumes to your team members, investors, and the public.
Companies that not only create a crisis response plan but also publish pertinent information to the public will ensure that patrons feel safe when visiting your business.
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