re-opening of business

The state Department of Public Health has issued the “COVID-19 Employer Playbook,” which is designed to provide in-depth guidance for reopening business operations and on how to respond to outbreaks in the workplace.

Among the topics covered in the guide are support for employers on:

  • Returning to work,
  • Outbreak identification preparedness,
  • Communication of identified COVID-19 cases,
  • Preventing further spread in the workplace, and
  • Workplace cleaning.

The playbook also encourages businesses to report positive cases to Public Health directly in order to increase the effectiveness of contact tracing, and to work closely with local health officials to contain potential outbreaks in the workplace.

The “COVID-19 Employer Playbook” requires employers to contact the local health department in any jurisdiction where a COVID-19 employee resides when there is an outbreak in a workplace. An outbreak is defined as three or more laboratory-confirmed cases within a two-week period among employees who live in different households.

The guide is crucial for employers in California after the first stay-at-home order being lifted and the eventual reopening of businesses in the state resulted in an explosion of new cases, forcing many operations to close once again.

The hope in publishing this guide is to make sure that a second reopening is done correctly with an emphasis on protecting workers, customers and any members of the public.

Implement, update plans

The playbook advises that for businesses whose operations were interrupted due to the coronavirus, before resuming normal or phased activities you should update your COVID-19 preparedness, response and control plans. All employers must implement (and update as necessary) a plan that:

  • Is specific to their workplace,
  • Identifies all areas and job tasks with potential exposures to COVID-19,
  • Includes control measures to eliminate or reduce such exposures,
  • Maintains healthy business operations,
  • Maintains a healthy work environment,
  • Provides effective training for workers, and
  • Encourages workers to give input into an effective workplace plan.

The playbook also notes that before reopening, all facilities must:

  1. Perform a detailed risk assessment and create a worksite-specific COVID-19 prevention plan.
  2. Train workers on how to limit the spread of COVID-19. This includes how to screen themselves for symptoms and when to stay home.
  3. Set up individual control measures and screenings.
  4. Put disinfection protocols in place.
  5. Establish physical distancing guidelines.
  6. Establish universal face-covering requirements (with allowed exceptions) in accordance with California Department of Public Health guidelines.

The playbook details how employers can go about opening and has sections for specific industries. You can get the full playbook here.

Nils Wright
Author: Nils Wright