COVID-19 Safety Tips for High-Risk Workers

Topics: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Summary: People 65 years and older and those who are immune-compromised are at a higher risk of getting serious complications from coronavirus. In this article, we share CDC workplace guidelines that can help prevent the spread of the virus to this important part of the workforce.

COVID-19 Safety Tips for High Risk Workers

Older workers are an integral part of the workforce; however, these individuals have been hit very hard by the coronavirus (COVID-19). People aged 65-84 have accounted for nearly 42% of the COVID-19 deaths from February 1 to May 30. While some older employees are eager to get back to the community of an office, retail shop or manufacturing facility, many are worried about that returning to a worksite after staying home will increase their risk for contracting COVID-19. Precautions need to be made to make sure that older workers and those who at a higher risk of infection are protected as they return to work.

Reopening Businesses Guidelines for Older Workers

As states across the country reopen their economies, higher risk employees need to take extra precautions when they return to work. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) considers these workers as individuals over 65 years old and those with underlying conditions including, but not limited to: chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, hypertension, severe heart conditions, weakened immunity, severe obesity, diabetes, liver disease, and chronic kidney disease that requires dialysis. The CDC recommends that high-risk employees should be encouraged to self-identify. However, employers should avoid making unnecessary medical inquiries.

Employers should take particular care to reduce a worker’s risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, while also staying compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Industry associations have created guidelines to assist businesses in reopening procedures. The restaurant and retail industries have also set recommendations to keep employees and customers safe from the spread of the virus.

The CDC has released interim reopening guidelines for those employees that could be impacted the most by the spread of the virus. The program recommends scaling up operations based on community mitigation and can be used in conjuncture with state and local health department orders. The CDC steps for reopening are:
  • Step 1: Scale-up only if the business can ensure strict social distancing, proper cleaning and disinfecting requirements and protection of their workers and customers; workers at higher risk for severe illness are recommended to shelter in place.
  • Step 2: Scale-up only if the business can ensure moderate social distancing, proper cleaning and disinfecting requirements and protection of their workers and customers; workers at higher risk for severe illness are recommended to shelter in place.
  • Step 3: Scale-up only if the business can ensure limited social distancing, proper cleaning and disinfecting requirements and protection of their workers and customers.

For each step, businesses should continue to protect employees at a higher risk for severe illnesses by encouraging work from home options , if possible. For those who have to be present in the workplace, employers should offer at-risk workers options to minimize their contact with customers and other employees.

Coronavirus Workplace Safety Tips

For businesses with high-risk employees, extra caution procedures should be put in place to protect them from the spread of the virus. These recommendations include:

  • Practice good hand hygiene, including frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol. Provide handwashing stations and hand sanitizers near high-use and high-touch areas.
  • Use cloth face coverings when around others where feasible. Some industries might require face shields.
  • Post information on how to avoid the stop of the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace in high visibility areas.
  • Avoid sharing items in the workplace, such as tools, equipment and supplies, that are not easily cleaned, sanitized or disinfected.
  • Change office workspace layouts to follow social distancing guidelines and close communal spaces, such as break rooms.
  • Consider conducting routine health checks in accordance with applicable privacy laws and regulations.
  • Have a plan in place when an employee comes to work with the symptoms of coronavirus.
  • Insist those who have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 stay home, self-monitor for symptoms and follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.

Keeping All Employees Safe From the Spread of Coronavirus

Businesses should review the specific guidelines issued by the state and local governments in which they operate and consult with their legal counsel about how to reopen safely. Companies should consider making changes to employee policies and practices reflecting the coronavirus guidelines. Staff should be fully aware of the new requirements when they come back to the workplace. Employers need to collaborate with employees to create a safe workplace, help them continue to be productive at work and to help manage their mental and emotional health as well.

Supporting Small Businesses Reopening During Coronavirus Pandemic

AmTrust offers tips to help small businesses reopen safely and efficiently. We also have a library of coronavirus resources to help our appointed agents and small business insured stay informed, safe, and healthy throughout these difficult times. For more information about our small business insurance solutions, please contact us today.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.


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