June 5, 2020

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Responding to COVID-19 | PA.GOV

On May 4, 2020, Governor Wolf provided guidance that details procedures businesses must follow to...

On May 4, 2020, Governor Wolf provided guidance that details procedures businesses must follow to conduct in-person operations in counties that move to the yellow phase of reopening.

All businesses, including non-profits, permitted to conduct in-person operations are subject to this guidance. This guidance is based on the building safety and business safety orders, under which nearly all life-sustaining businesses have been operating during the red phase.

Under the yellow phase of reopening, life-sustaining businesses that could not conduct either all or part of their operations via telework will continue to conduct their operations in-person, and many non-life-sustaining businesses will be permitted to restart their in-person operations through the loosening of some restrictions under the stay-at-home and business closure orders.

Protecting Employees

All businesses that have been conducting their operations in whole or in part remotely through individual teleworking must continue telework operations for each of those employees.

All businesses conducting in-person operations must:

  • Clean and disinfect high-touch areas frequently and continue to regularly clean all other areas of the building(s).
  • Establish and implement a plan in case the business is exposed to a probably or confirmed case of COVID-19 that includes:
    • Securing and decontaminating the affected areas by:
      • Closing off areas visited by the person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID19;
      • Opening outside doors and windows and using ventilation fans to circulate air in the area;
      • Waiting at least 24 hours, or as long as practical, before cleaning and disinfecting the affected area;
      • Cleaning and disinfecting all shared areas such as offices, bathrooms, break rooms, shared electronic equipment (tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls) and ATM machines used by the sick person;
    • Identifying employees who were in close contact (within about 6 feet for 10 minutes or more) with a person with a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 from the period 48 hours before symptom onset to the time at which the patient isolated.
      • If any employee who was in close contact remain) asymptomatic, the employees should adhere to the practices set out by the CDC in its April 8, 2020 Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practice for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19;
      • If the affected employee becomes sick during the workday, the person should be sent home immediately. Surfaces in the employee’s workspace should be cleaned and disinfected. Information on other employees who had contact with the ill employee during the time the employee had symptoms and 48 hours prior to symptoms should be compiled. Others at the workplace with close contact within 6 feet of the employee during this time are considered exposed;
      • Promptly notify employees who were close contacts of any known exposure to COVID19 at the business premises, consistent with applicable confidentiality laws.
    • Taking each employee’s temperature before they enter the business and sending home those who have a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or higher. Ensure employees practice social distancing while waiting to have temperatures screened;
    • Informing employees that if they have symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, or shortness of breath), they should notify their supervisor and stay home;
    • Advising sick employees to follow CDC-recommended steps, including not returning to work until the CDC criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with health care providers and state and local health departments;
    • Employers are encouraged to implement liberal paid time off for employees who do not return to work for the reasons set forth above.
  • Prevent large groups from entering or leaving the building by staggering work start and stop times;
  • Limit the number of people in employee common areas, like locker rooms or break rooms, and ensure these areas are cleaned frequently;
  • Conduct meetings and trainings virtually. If a meeting needs to be held in person, limit the number of employees to 10 and maintain a social distance of six feet;
  • Make sure employees have access to soap and water to wash their hands, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes;
  • Provide non-medical masks for employees to wear at all times and make it mandatory to wear masks while on the work site. Employers may approve masks obtained or made by employees according to Department of Health policies;
  • Make sure the facility has enough employees as applicable to follow these protocols and conduct business effectively and safely;
  • Discourage non-essential visitors from entering the business premises;
  • Communicate these procedures to all employees to ensure that everyone knows how to be safe.
Protecting Employees That Serve the Public

Any business that serves the public inside a building or other defined area must follow the above guidance and take the additional precautions listed below:

  • Conduct business with the public by appointment only, whenever possible;
  • If appointment-only service is not feasible, limit the number of people inside the building to no more than 50% of the total maximum occupancy;
  • Modify the hours of business so that there is enough time to clean and restock;
  • Install shields or other barriers at registers and check-out areas to physically separate cashiers and customers, or take other measures to maintain social distancing between customers and employees;
  • Encourage customers to use online ordering by providing delivery or pick-up options;
  • Designate a specific time for people at high risk, including those over the age of 65 to use the business at least once a week;
  • Require all customers to wear masks while on the premises. Businesses that provide medication, medical supplies or groceries must provide an alternate, no contact, means of delivering goods for customers who cannot wear a mask.
    • However, individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition (including children under the age of 2 years per CDC guidance) may enter the premises and are not required to provide documentation of such medical condition.
  • In businesses with multiple check-out lanes, limit use to every other register. After every hour, rotate customers and employees to the previously closed registers and clean the previously open registers and the surrounding areas;
  • Schedule handwashing breaks for employees at least every hour; and
  • Assign an employee to wipe down carts and handbaskets before the customer uses it.

No business is required to conduct in-person operations, and should not do so if the business is unable to do so in accordance with this guidance. Businesses permitted to conduct in-person operations that are unable or unwilling to comply with these requirements may engage in curbside delivery to customers so long as strict social distancing and other mitigation measures are followed.

Businesses serving the public that inherently involve close contact with customers, and therefore cannot attain social distancing, are not permitted to conduct in-person operations until the county in which the business is located transitions to the green phase, when the building safety and business safety orders are lifted.

Enforcement

Enforcement of the Secretary’s Order Directing Building Safety Measures began at 12:00 AM on Monday, April 6, 2020. Enforcement of the Secretary’s Order Directing Public Health Safety Measures for Businesses Protection Order began at 8:00 PM on Sunday, April 19, 2020.

The governor has directed the following state agencies and local officials to enforce orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic to the full extent of the law:

  • Department of Health
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Labor and Industry
  • Pennsylvania State Police
  • Local officials, using their resources to enforce closure orders within their jurisdictions.
  • Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

Law enforcement officers should refer to Enforcement Guidance available online here.

If employees or customers want to report possible health and safety violations in the workplace related to COVID-19:

  1. File a complaint with a local health department or a law enforcement agency.
  2. Submit this webform to the PA Department of Health.
  3. Review OSHA guidance and, if appropriate, file a complaint at OSHA.gov.
Requirements for Communicating with Employees and Any On-site Customers about COVID-19 Safety

Businesses conducting in-person operations or serving the public are required to make employees and customers aware of the guidance provided by the commonwealth to keep people at their establishment safe. In addition, businesses are required to publicly acknowledge their responsibility to conduct their operations to ensure the health and safety of employees.

Businesses must print, sign, and post the “COVID-19 Safety Procedures for Businesses” flyer on their premises. Businesses must post the signed flyer in employee common space and, if the business serves the public, the business must also post the flyer near the business’s public entrance(s) in prominent location(s).

Businesses must sign the flyer on the space provided. The signature is an acknowledgement that the owner or management is aware of the COVID-19 safety procedures and understands their responsibilities to carry out the guidance and procedures.

The flyer must be signed by the business’s corporate officer, site manager, site foreperson, or equivalent. The flyer also contains a space for the business to indicate the employee who is the “Pandemic Safety Officer,” or the person in charge of the COVID-19 safety procedures for the business (specific workplace). The signed acknowledgement and Pandemic Safety Officer designation should not be returned to the Commonwealth – it must be simply posted and available if requested by local law enforcement.

The Commonwealth encourages businesses to share this guidance or the flyer electronically with employees as well. There is no requirement to submit a safety response plan to the Commonwealth.

NOTE: There are two versions of the flyer. One is a document that can be printed on ONE 8.5×14-inch (legal) piece of paper. The other is a document that can be printed on TWO 8.5×11-inch (letter) pieces of paper. Businesses can choose which version to use and post and do not have to use both versions.

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