06.29.2020 | COVID-19

Preparing for and Responding to COVID-19 Outbreaks in the Workplace – New Guidance from the California Department of Public Health

As employers begin to bring people back to work at their job sites, they need to plan how to manage COVID-19 exposure or illness in the workplace. The California Department of Public Health has recently published new guidance on this topic.

Three important steps for employers to take prior to a problem arising are:
  1. Appoint a COVID-19 coordinator. You could appoint the same person designated as the Safety Officer in your IIPP (which you should have been updated by now with Cal/OSHA’s requirements for COVID-19 infection prevention.)
  2. Develop a tracking mechanism for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases among your employees. If you have a mechanism in place, when the need arises, you will be able to act quickly to trace the people with whom the sick or possibly sick employee had contact. This will help in minimizing the spread.
  3. Make a list of the contact information for the local health department of each county where you have an employee residing. If you have an outbreak, you will need to notify not only the health department in the county where the job site is located, but also the county where any exposed employee lives.
The DPH Guidance provides information on reporting to public health authorities and Cal/OSHA. The Guidance also includes a helpful chart for managing return to work of sick or exposed employees, depending on the particular combination of circumstances for each employee – for example, how to handle a symptomatic employee who tests positive or a non-symptomatic employee who tests positive.

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