On May 27, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidance that helps employers keep their employees who work in office buildings safe from COVID-19. This guidance is part of a series of industry-specific documents that OSHA and CDC have been issuing over the past month. These documents reiterate many of the same requirements.
CDC recommends that, prior to reopening, employers should ensure that the office building is ready for occupancy after months of inactivity. This includes:
- Confirming that the ventilation is working properly
- Opening windows and doors to increase circulation of outdoor air if possible and safe to do so
- Checking for dangers associated with a prolonged facility shut-down, such as mold growth or stagnant water.
The CDC recommends implementing “hazard controls” to reduce the likelihood of disease transmission. These controls include:
- Installing transparent shields or other physical barriers to separate employees and visitors where maintaining proper social distance is not possible
- Using signs or floor markings placed six feet apart to indicate where employees and visitors should stand
- Encouraging employees to conduct meetings and small group activities outside
- Replacing “high-touch communal items” like coffee pots and shared snacks with prepackaged, single-serving items
- Providing accommodations for employees who use public transit to commute to work, including by reimbursing parking costs
- Prohibiting “handshaking, hugs, and fist bumps”
- Using “ultraviolet germicidal irradiation” to help inactivate the virus
CDC is also encouraging office employees to wear face masks at all times while in all areas of the office.
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