Employers are rightfully concerned about having workers return to their place of business after they have been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID19. Fortunately, the CDC has provided guidance for employers who have workers classified as “critical infrastructure workers”. Employers who fall into this category include, but are not limited to employers in sectors such as critical manufacturing, law enforcement, energy, transportation, haz-mat responders, janitorial staff,911 call center staff members and others. Employers who are uncertain if these guidelines apply to them, can review our blog post on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers.
Understanding Exposure Versus Potential Exposure
Potential exposure is defined as “a household contact or having close contact within six feet of an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.”
Previous Guidance Versus New Guidance
Under previously issued guidance, the CDC recommended any employee who was potentially exposed to COVID19 be sent home and remain home for up to 14 days. However, under the new guidance these employees may remain at work provided some additional guidelines are followed, including:
- For Employers — employers must ensure all workplace areas are routinely disinfected. This process helps curb the potential danger of spreading to other employees. In addition, prior to the employee entering the workplace, the employer should ensure the employee has no symptoms and does not have a fever.
- For Employees — the employee who remains asymptomatic may return to the workplace provided they wear a face covering for up to 14 days following their return to the workplace. Employees should also continue monitoring themselves for symptoms in conjunction with the employer’s occupational health program. The employee should also maintain a recommended distance of six feet or more from others in the workplace as their assignments allow.
Employers and employees should thoroughly review the CDC guidelines to ensure they are doing everything possible to avoid spreading the Coronavirus.