The Employers Council re-opening guide for businesses

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The Employers Council of Guam has released the following guide to re-opening for island businesses.
Governor Announces PCOR2 – Reopening of additional businesses
 
The Governor has announced in her May 8, 2020, press conference, that the island will move to PCOR2 on May 10, 2020, as part of the gradual re-opening of the island’s economy.
For an overview of the Government’s Re-opening Plan,  Chalan Para Hinemlo and what businesses fall under PCOR2, click HERE.  The opening was also discussed in the DPHSS May 7, 2020 Memo.
As part of the announcement, businesses were advised that DPHSS is completing specific re-opening guidelines, including face masks, cleaning of facilities and occupancy limits. While waiting for the government guidelines, we share the following recommendations and resources on re-opening during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
In preparing to re-open, companies should remember that employee health and safety, and business continuity are directly and inextricably linked to one another. Keeping your employees safe and healthy means that they continue coming to work, which means your business continues to operate. Further, by focusing on your employees’ safety, you will invariably create an environment that is safe for your customers too.
 
An excellent FAQ on Re-opening as well as other Employer-related COVID-19 issues is available from FisherPhilips.  Click HERE to access this great resource.
 
Steps to consider in creating a safe workplace for your employees (and thus your customers too).
 
Start at the door
Consider who you will allow into your workplace in the first place. It is legal, and many companies are taking the initiative, to check employees and customers at the entrance of workplaces for symptoms of COVID-19. This includes symptoms such as coughing and temperature. Further, you’ll want to ensure those entering your workplace are properly protected themselves with a facemask (per Governor’s Executive Order) and clean hands. If you decide to do this, there are points to consider, including:
 
1. Checkers – Who will do the checking? Whoever is chosen should receive proper training in self-protection, symptoms, as well as how to take temperatures and maintain privacy as employee symptoms and temperature fall under HIPPA.
 
2. Equipment & PPE – what thermometer will be used and is there a steady supply of PPE for checkers? There are many thermometers available. Infrared contactless thermometers are the best option as they further reduce contact. In addition, anyone checking employees or customers for COVID-19 symptoms should be fully supplied with PPE, to include a face shield, gloves and gown.  Click HERE for OHSA PPE guidelines for temperature taking. 
 
3. Available PPE for employees and customers – in addition to employees, will you provide masks and hand sanitizer to customers? Consider PPE for customers who visit your workplaces. If they don’t have their own PPE, decide if you’ll provide PPE to them, such as masks, or if you will deny access to them.

4. Security – how will you protect employees and customers from defiant customers/employees? If an employee or customer is showing signs of COVID-19 at the entrance of a workplace and is denied access, they may act out. Especially at the start of the re-opening of workplaces it is smart to have security as a back-up.
 
5. Limited access – how will you monitor how many people enter your workplace to maintain limited capacity? A key component of re-opening is limited number of people in confined places. While GovGuam will provide guidelines shortly, a number that has been mentioned is 50% capacity.
 
Set up distancing and controls inside (and outside) the workplace
 
The standard recommendation is 6 feet between people, but according to health.harvard.edu that virus droplets can linger in the air for up to 3 hours. Consistently keeping people as far apart as possible is key. Consider the following:
 
1. Use signage and barriers – Showing employees and customers where to stand, walk and sit through the use of signs, markers and barriers is crucial in helping them maintain physical distance in the workplace.
 
2. Separate areas and desks – Spread out work areas as much as possible, reconfiguring and repurposing the use of areas as necessary to meet distancing needs.
 
3. Close or re-purpose lunchrooms and meeting rooms – 2 keys areas in the workplace that have been shown to promote the spread of the virus: gathering areas and bathrooms. Prevent staff from gathering together by either closing gathering areas or repurposing them into distanced workspaces.
 
4. Sanitize and ventilate bathrooms frequently – as mentioned, bathrooms are another key spreading point in workplaces. Bathrooms should be sanitized frequently, at a minimum, daily. In addition, where possible, ventilation should be increased. Depending on size, access to bathrooms should be controlled to allow distancing.  Other high-touch areas should be regularly sanitized as well.

5. Ventilate – research shows a greater spread of the virus in confined areas. As much as possible, increase ventilation and natural lighting in rooms.

6. Remember outside – Due to capacity limitations, you may have crowds immediately outside your workplace entrance. Remember to put in place controlled distancing measures outside your workplace too, and anywhere else people may gather (such as the entrance to bathrooms).

Limit the number employees and customers in the workplace
 
As a key element of limiting the spread of the virus is distancing, you may not be able to accommodate all your pre-COVID-19 employees back in the workplace at the same time. Further, having all employees back working together at the same time, may impact business continuity if an employee tests positive in the workplace. To control the potential spread of the virus throughout your workforce, consider the following:
 
1. Keep using telework – Unless an employee absolutely must be in the workplace to complete their work, it is recommended that employees continue to telecommute.
 
2. Set up and control shift and location teams – For those employees who must be in the workplace to work, it is recommend that they be divided into shift and location teams that cross-work as little as possible. By having teams that limit their contact with each other, if a member of one team becomes infected, then potentially, only the members of that team will have to be quarantined and your remaining teams can continue working and keep your business going. If employees randomly work with one another and have unnecessary contact, one infection, could greatly impact the overall operations of a company. Teams could be set up by shifts (e.g. 8a – 12p, 1p – 5p, MWF, TTH) and location (e.g. 1F, 2F, depts.). The key is to keep the same people working with each other and control all unnecessary contact with other employees to minimize the impact across your workforce of one employee testing positive.
 
3. Set-up drop boxes, deliveries, on-line ordering – Wherever possible, limit the number of customers in the workplace by providing options, such as, drop-boxes, deliveries, on-line ordering or servicing, pre-order pick-up, and scheduled appointments or service hours.
 
Other responsible actions to take
 
1. Use remote communication, even in the workplace – Even though someone must be in the workplace to do their job, it does not mean that they have to continue face-to-face meetings and discussions as was the norm before COVID-19. As much as possible, even in the workplace, people should be meeting via on-line meeting platforms and communicating via email and phones.
 
2. Don’t hesitate to act on symptoms of COVID-19 – If someone is coughing, has a fever or has another symptom of COVID-19, they should not be in your workplace. Remember, you want to protect all your employees, and in turn, your operations. Asking one or two people to stay home, is better than losing an entire department to a quarantine. Click HERE again for the FAQ from FisherPhilips on Handling COVID-symptoms in the Workplace.
 
3. Update procedures to ensure protective processes – Processes should be reviewed in-line with current needs and not past practice. Consideration should be taken to limit unnecessary work steps and employee-employee-customer interaction wherever possible. Further, policies should be reviewed for the proper handling of potentially infected items, including cash, credit cards, keyboards, handles, etc.