Labor & Employment Law Daily CDC guidance addresses critical infrastructure workers who may have been exposed to COVID-19
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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

CDC guidance addresses critical infrastructure workers who may have been exposed to COVID-19

By WK Editorial Staff

The CDC lays out guidelines for exposed workers who are asymptomatic but continue working.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued interim guidance aimed at ensuring the continuity of operations of essential functions when critical infrastructure workers have had potential exposure to COVID-19. The CDC says that these workers—”the essential workers needed to maintain the services and functions Americans depend on daily and need to be able to operate resiliently during the COVID-19 pandemic response”—may be permitted to continue working, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.

Potential exposure. For purposes of the guidance, a “potential exposure” means being a household contact or having close contact within six feet of a person with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, including within 48 hours before the person became symptomatic.

Safe practices. Critical infrastructure workers who have had an exposure but remain asymptomatic should adhere to the following practices prior to and during their work shift:

  • Pre-Screen: Employers should measure the employee’s temperature and assess symptoms prior to the employees starting work. Ideally, temperature checks should happen before the employee enters the facility.
  • Regular Monitoring: As long as the employee doesn’t have a temperature or symptoms, they should self-monitor under the supervision of their employer’s occupational health program.
  • Wear a Mask: The employee should wear a face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after last exposure. Employers can issue facemasks or can approve employees’ supplied cloth face coverings in the event of shortages.
  • Social Distance: The employee should maintain six feet and practice social distancing “as work duties permit” in the workplace.
  • Disinfect and Clean work spaces: Clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment routinely.

The CDC has also provided a workplace flyer outlining this critical infrastructure guidance.

If sick at work. When an employee who has had an exposure becomes sick at work, the employer should:

  • Send the employee home immediately;
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces in the employee’s workspace;
  • Compile information on persons who had contact with the sick employee during the time the employee had symptoms and two days prior to symptoms; and
  • Consider as exposed others at the facility with close contact within six feet of the employee during this time.

Coronavirus planning. The CDC further recommends that employers implement the recommendations in the Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 to help prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Identifying critical infrastructure. Additional information about identifying critical infrastructure during COVID-19 is posted on the DHS Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency website and the CDC’s specific First Responder Guidance page.

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