In a matter of months, the Coronavirus has dealt a major blow to the United States, and we may never be the same. Major institutions are at the point of unravelling. School and university administrators all over the country are debating whether to open their campuses to students in the fall. Sports matches are currently being played in arenas without fans, if at all. Jobless claims have continued to rise. To make matters worse, just when the shelter-in-place orders were lifted and we thought (hoped) the country was on the mend, an attempt to re-open was met with a second wave of virus cases. To date, four million US citizens have been infected with COVID-19. In addition to the nationwide health emergency, there has also been a second wave of economic trouble. Several retail giants are permanently closing multiple locations, while other companies in the retail sector and beyond, are going out of business altogether. A visit to the local bank branch will confirm that there is even a shortage in the availability of coins, which, according to news outlets, is the direct result of massive retail closures. We are officially in a recession, with many struggling to pay rent and feed their families.
Fortunately, some businesses were able to keep their doors open during the first virus wave, either because they are part of the critical infrastructure, or because they support a critical sector. Other businesses were allowed to re-open when the shelter-in-place was lifted, with detailed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This guidance will hopefully help employers to implement policies and procedures to protect their employees from COVID-19 transmission.
According to the CDC, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace. Therefore, the CDC recommends that employers take specific actions to limit the spread of COVID-19. Businesses should begin by conducting a hazard assessment to identify anything which could increase the spread of COVID-19, including areas of the facility where employees are typically in close contact. Elevators are of particular concern, so employers should encourage the use of stairs whenever possible. When distancing is not feasible, furniture and workstation modification should be completed, such as adding barriers and shields. Surfaces which are frequently touched should be cleaned and disinfected multiple times throughout the day. Building ventilation is another consideration. The CDC suggests that employers increase air filtration, as well as the amount of outside air going into the building.
The following OSHA documents offer guidance on limiting the spread of COVID-19 by minimizing environmental risks.
- Ten Steps All Workplaces Can Take to Reduce Risk of Exposure to Coronavirus
- Hazard Identification and Assessment
Screening employees for COVID-19 symptoms by setting up onsite temperature checking stations is urged. Those with symptoms such as fever should be encouraged to return home and/or consult their personal physician. As mentioned in an earlier blog, the EEOC states that because we are in a pandemic, employers may facilitate measuring employees’ body temperature, and ask if sick employees are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Employers should also consider adjusting shift start times and break times, which will help to reduce the total number of employees who are onsite at the same time.
The utilization of non-contact thermometers, whether hand-held or standalone, has quickly become the standard in the fight against COVID-19. When used with work groups, small and large, non-contact temperature monitoring devices help to identify employees who have fever, which is a primary symptom of COVID-19. Standalone devices, are very effective because of the speed at which they capture temperature measurements and because they do not require an attendant for operation. This is important for limiting cross-infection. Many standalone devices also include software which enables the user to capture temperature data and easily produce reports.
Further guidance from the CDC advises that employers should encourage their teams and customers to use face coverings, specifically cloth. There is no definitive data suggesting that cloth is effective for protecting the wearer. However, cloth face coverings may help to protect others from the wearer’s respiratory droplets. While the CDC recommends cloth face coverings to limit COVID-19 transmission, there is no question that other types of face coverings are effective as well. Polypropylene 3-ply masks, for example, offer dual protection. Because they are constructed using multiple layers of material, 3-ply masks are better able to block small particles. Furthermore, polypropylene holds an electrostatic charge, which enables this type of mask to trap droplets going out from the wearer, while also preventing the penetration of particles and droplets coming from outside.
As we continue the fight against COVID-19, having the right solutions is essential. DeltaTrak has a long history of providing the products our customers can count on, and the service our customers can trust. Our 3-Ply surgical masks, part #57109, and the ThermoTrace Auto-Check Non-Contact Infrared Forehead Thermometer K3, part #15050, are just two examples of the tools DeltaTrak is certain will make a significant impact on how workers are protected from COVID-19 transmission going forward.
“COVID-19 Employer Information for Office Buildings,”
“Resuming Business TOOLKIT: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),”
M. Godoy, “A User’s Guide to Masks: What’s best at Protecting Others (And Yourself),” Goats and Soda, July 1, 2020. [Online]. Available: