COVID-19 Workplace Exposure Guidelines for Employers

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Workplace Exposure Guidelines for Employers

As Sonoma County’s Shelter in Place health orders are progressively relaxed, employers bringing employees back into the workplace should establish protocols to follow in the event of employees testing positive for COVID-19 or being exposed to someone confirmed to have COVID-19.

Take Steps to Reduce Your Risk

  • Follow local, state, and federal requirements and considerations for employers. See “More Employer Resources” section below.
  • Make sure your required Social Distancing Protocol is available to all employees, managers, and customers/clients
  • Employers are encouraged to use the free SoCo COVID-19 Check App to check and document that all employees reporting to your workplace are completing a COVID-19 symptom screening on a daily basis. The App automatically reports data to the County, excluding any personally identifiable information, that will help  the County monitor COVID-19 in real time and help inform decisions and keep people safe at their workplace and community. The County developed this App to make it easier for employers to comply with employee screening requirements while also providing a safe and easy way to report data pertinent to COVID-19.

What To Do Should An Employee Test Positive

If you are notified or made aware that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, here are recommended steps to take as an employer and what to expect:

  • Inform the individual’s manager or supervisor, your human resources manager (if applicable), and other business/company executive-level leaders about a possible workplace exposure immediately.
  • Contact Public Health Disease Control at 707.565.4566 immediately. Ask to speak with a Lead Public Health Nurse to report the exposure and to provide information about contact with other employees/clients/customers.
  • Public Health Disease Control will work with you to determine your level of risk, who must be interviewed, and who must be removed from the workplace and quarantined for 14 days from date of last exposure, whether or not they are showing symptoms. This process is undertaken with urgency but still may take several days.
  • Examples of questions your employees and you will be asked to assess the level of exposure risk.
    • What are the employee’s job duties?
    • Who does the employee work with?
    • What shifts does the employee work?
    • How often is environmental cleaning done at the workplace
    • What is the type of work space?
    • What type of ventilation system?
    • When did the employees last worked and/or accessed the same work space?
  • Work with Disease Control to provide a letter or notice to the employee and others exposed about not reporting to work and quarantining for 14 days from the exposure date.
  • Coordinate with Disease Control to determine which other employees and clients/customers who accessed the facility or work area need to be notified. Let them know that they will be contacted and interviewed by Disease Control, and will also be advised about whether/when to be tested.
  • Determine which workplace areas need to be temporarily closed and arrange for enhanced cleaning and disinfection. Keep such areas closed for at least 24 hours. Make sure the cleaning service adheres to the CDC’s “Interim Recommendations for U.S. Community Facilities with Suspected/Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).”
  • Be prepared to provide information to employees to support them while quarantined, such as sick/medical leave resources and what to do when they are ready to return to work.
  • Consult with the manager of your disability insurance program regarding potential workers’ compensation and unemployment and processes.

What To Expect

Public Health Disease Control will:

  • Interview the employee who tested positive and everyone exposed to the person.
  • Interview supervisors, managers, and other leaders in the employer organization
  • Contact the employee’s healthcare provider or hospital to determine medical components.
  • Gather information in a thoughtful and systematic way to make the best recommendations regarding who was exposed and level of risk.

More Employer Resources

What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Laws

Resuming Business Toolkit – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), May 2020 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Interim Recommendations for U.S. Community Facilities with Suspected/Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – Centers for Disease control and Prevention

Order of the Health Officer C19-14: Stay Well Sonoma County – Order extending Shelter in Place, allowing more businesses to operate in the County, and requiring mitigation measures such as Social Distancing, Face Coverings, and Hygiene Requirements