Business reopening is now in Phase III of the Stay Safe Plan, initiated by Minnesota Governor Tim Waltz. The plan, which was first referred to as Executive Order 20-74, enables businesses to transition into operations by complying with mandated health department and governmental guidelines
Basic Guidelines per Minnesota’s Stay Safe Initiative
All phases of the Stay Safe initiative require the following:
- Telework is recommended, if possible.
- Face coverings and masks are stringently recommended to keep employees and business visitors safe.
- Distancing should continue of at least six feet.
- Non-critical and critical sector businesses must adopt a COVID-19 preparedness business plan by June 29, 2020. Non critical businesses include companies with non-facing customer activities while critical businesses represent companies where customers and employees regularly interact.
- Employees should follow frequent hand washing while working.
Being Prepared in the Workplace
A Minnesota business’s COVID-19 preparedness plan or mitigation program should establish the protocols, conditions, and policies a company plans to implement to meet the standards established by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These guidelines should also meet the state executive orders associated with health and safety in the workplace.
Plans must be presented and posted that make it easy for employees to view. In Minnesota, the state’s Department of Labor and Industry (DLI), in collaboration with the state’s Department of Health, have legal authority for determining COVID-19 preparedness plan compliance.
Outlining a Covid-19 Preparedness Program in Minnesota
As an employer, your COVID-19 preparedness plan must describe how you propose to do the following:
- Implement policies and procedures to help identify sick workers and ensure workers stay at home, if sick.
- Facilitate administrative and engineering protocols for social distancing during work hours.
- Support worker hygiene, especially hand washing and sanitizing of frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Obtain the needed cleaning, sanitation, and protective items.
- Establish ventilation protocols.
- Set the standards for cleaning and disinfecting in the workplace.
- Plan for the drop-off and pick-up of products with minimal contact.
- Communicate with and train employees so that everyone maintains a safe distance, or works safely online using video-conferencing.
Besides the above general measures, the plan must include the steps and protection required for your business’s specific operations, including increased exposure risks.
Extending Protective Measures and Protocols in Minnesota
Specific guidelines for businesses may include the following:
- Additional protective measures for guests, customers, and visitors
- Added protections for personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Established protocols for premises access
- Extra measures for hygiene and sanitation
- Guidelines for cleaning work clothes or hand washing
- Additional steps for barriers and distancing
- Extra measures for managing occupancy
- Protocols for limited face-to-face interactions
- Additional protections for exchanging or receiving payments
Each preparedness plan in Minnesota should be created to fit the business’s operations while reducing the risk of transmission in the workplace. Whether or not a template is used, the preparedness plan should address the industry directives established by the DLI and MDH. You can find more information about these initiatives by clicking on the state’s Stay Safe site. The site features preparedness guidance for a variety industry and business sectors.
Therefore, a business’s preparedness plan should be developed to cover operations while maintaining prevention guidelines. The following measures should be integrated into Phase III reopenings.
Developing a Preparedness Plan: How Minnesota Employers Should Respond
Because COVID-19 is easily spread through respiratory droplets while speaking, sneezing, or coughing, employers need to consider the following when developing a preparedness plan.
1. Employers need to protect staff, and both employees and employers need to follow the standards established by the Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) Act.
2. A plan should be developed where employers examine potential risks, and reduce exposure through the development of safe working practices.
3. Employers should prevent exposure by assuming all people that they or their employees come into contact with may be infected. All interactions should be treated as potential risks. To combat this risk, employers and employees should practice social distancing, the wearing of masks, and frequent hand hygiene.
4. Work should be performed at home, or remotely, if possible. Workers should not have to appear at work, unless their job requires them to operate or maintain machinery, or perform a task that cannot be done remotely.
5. Travel should be limited.
6. Access should be limited by reducing the number of staff who report to work and restricting the number of people interacting with employees. Remember – fewer numbers of people mean less of a risk or cause for concern.
7 Limit the number of employees operating equipment or using machinery and tools. For example, designate one person per piece of equipment.
8. Separate workers by avoiding the sharing or work areas. The practice may include staggering lunches and breaks.
9. Provide barrier protection for any close-contact interactions.
10. Establish social distancing of at least six feet between employees, and employees and customers or visitors. Establish working areas, so they provide sufficient space for social distancing. Control lines should be set up, or floors should be clearly marked with tape to enforce the practice.
11. Promote regular hand washing as well as the use of a hand sanitizer. All employees should wash their hands after touching a piece of equipment or frequently touched surface. Employees should also refrain from touching their face.
12. Implement a regular schedule of sanitation, sanitizing and cleaning shared tools, equipment, and common areas. This includes sanitizing and cleaning power tools, forklifts, keyboards, office machines, plant machinery, telephones, ladders, railings, and doorknobs.
13. Employers should assess work activities and provide personal protective equipment (PPE) in situations where other control measures cannot be used. Employers may need to provide PPE in for form of goggles, face shields, face masks, gowns, or gloves.
14. When creating a preparedness plan, employers should evaluate the necessity of providing respirators when employees work close to one another. These devices may be provided voluntarily. The protection standards provided by OSHA detail the requirements for respirator use.
15. Employers need to provide employee training that demonstrates the health hazards related to COVID-19. This training includes modes of transmission, ways to prevent transmittal, and symptomatology. OSHA offers training resources online to support training initiatives.
16. Employers should support an open-door policy of communication about COVID-19 so employees can report problems or express concerns. Open communication is vital to minimize the spread of the disease.
17. Companies should promote wellness checks with employees daily as well as inquire about their well-being and health concerns. Inquiries should not only address physical health but should cover mental health or emotional wellbeing.
18. Employees should stay home when they are ill and should stay at home until they are better.
19. If an employee is working with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, he or she should report the situation to their employer. That way, any extra precautions can be taken immediately.
20. Employers need to recognize the level of stress escalates during this type of crisis. Therefore, the demands placed on employees should be reduced while transitioning back to work.
Safe work practices protect the labor force, as well as employees’ loved ones and family. Therefore, the above listing should be used as a reference and guide for finding workplace solutions.
Workplace Safety Solutions
In Minnesota, as in other U.S. states, employers need to customize a workplace safety and mitigation plan to protect staff and customers, and to adhere to the state’s COVID-19 reopening plans as established by the Governor’s Office and Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Safety Services Company can provide a comprehensive Workplace Safety and Mitigation Plan that enables employees to follow a consistent program of prevention and care.
Subjects covered include defining and understanding COVID-19, best practices for hygiene, mitigating risk, and preventing the spread of the virus. Our mitigation plans are custom branded for your business and serve as both compliance documentation, and an effective visual training asset.