CHARLESTON — As part of Gov. Jim Justice’s plan for West Virginia’s comeback, “West Virginia Strong,” guidance has been provided for small businesses.
In preparing a place of business to return employees to work, small businesses of ten or fewer employees should consider adopting rules and regulations to protect their employees and customers. These guidelines are being published in advance of Governor Justice’s Executive Order — currently anticipated to be effective as of the week of May 4 — that will allow small businesses with 10 or fewer employees to begin reopening. Employers should consider the following guidelines to help protect their employees, customers, and the citizens of the State of West Virginia:
Screen employees: Screen all employees reporting to work daily for COVID-19 symptoms with the following questions: Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19? Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat? Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours? Have you had new loss of taste or smell? Have you had vomiting or diarrhea in the last 24 hours?
Sick employees: Direct any employee who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms (i.e., answers yes to any of the screening questions or who is running a fever) to leave the premises immediately and seek medical care and/or COVID-19 testing, per CDC guidelines. Employers should maintain the confidentiality of employee health information.
Plan ahead: Develop and implement appropriate policies, in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations and guidance, and informed by industry best practices, regarding: Social distancing and protective equipment; Temperature checks; Testing, isolating, and contact tracing; Sanitation; Limiting use and increased disinfection of common and high-traffic areas; and Limiting non-essential business travel.
Training: Train all employees on the importance and expectation of increased frequency of handwashing, the use of hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol,and provide clear instruction to avoid touching hands to face.
Cleaning: Implement workplace cleaning and disinfection practices, according to CDC guidelines, with regular sanitization of common surfaces at least every two hours.o
Monitor: Monitor your employees for indicative symptoms and keep an open line of communication. Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns to the employer.o
Hygiene: Provide a place to wash hands or alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol.o
PPE: Require employees to wear PPE when appropriate, with special considerations for those employees that come into contact with the general public.
Tracing: Develop and implement policies and procedures for employee contact tracing following employees with a positive COVID-19 test, and inform the local health department of such positive test and tracing.
Phase in: If possible, return employees to work in phases and spread out shifts to reduce excessive or unnecessary interaction.
Telework: Allow teleworking wherever possible.
At-risk individuals: Consider special accommodations for employees that are members of a vulnerable population, like senior citizens or immunocompromised people, including encouraging teleworking to the maximum extent possible among other measures.
Touch points: Point of sale equipment should be frequently cleaned and sanitized. The entrance/exit doors should be sanitized routinely. Encourage customers to make non-cash payments.
Cooperation: Plan for potential COVID-19 cases and work with local health department officials when needed (i.e., monitor and trace COVID-19 cases, deep-clean facilities).
Signage: Post extensive signage on health policies, including how to stop the spread of germs and common symptoms, in the workplace to help educate all on COVID-19 best practices.
Where employees of these smaller businesses of 10 or fewer employees have employees that come into contact with the general public and/or customers, the employer should consider additional precautionary measures to protect the safety of their employees, customers, and the citizens of the State of West Virginia. These measures include: Establish limitations on existing occupancy limits; enforce reasonable social distancing requirements in all areas of the business, including waiting areas; as appropriate, establish an appointment schedule to reduce excessive or unnecessary interaction; institute any possible measure to limit interaction between employees and customers; and require PPE, specifically face masks and gloves, for all employees who will interact with a customer.