Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19. The federal government has released new guidelines for when people in critical infrastructure roles can return to work after being exposed to a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus.
The guidance pertains to essential critical workers who have been exposed to COVID-19. For those individuals, the guidelines advise:
- Take your temperature before work.
- Wear a face mask at all times.
- Practice social distancing in the workplace as work duties permit
The guidelines advise individuals not to:
- Stay at work if you become sick.
- Share headsets or other items used near one’s face.
- Congregate in the break room, lunchroom, or other crowded places.
Employers are asked to:
- Take the employee’s temperature and assess their symptoms before the employee starts back at work.
- If the employee becomes sick during the day, they should be sent home immediately.
- Increase the air exchange in the building.
- Increase the cleaning of commonly touched surfaces.
- Test the use of face masks to ensure they don’t interfere with workflow.
The new guidelines were announced at the White House on Wednesday. The guidelines are part of the government’s effort to “re-open” the country, which has been brought to an economic halt due to the coronavirus and the extensive measures introduced to stem its spread. President Trump said Wednesday that he believes the country can re-open “soon” and he’ll consult with health experts in determining exactly when.
To ensure continuity of operations of essential functions, CDC advises that critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.
A potential exposure means being a household contact or having close contact within 6 feet of an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. The timeframe for having contact with an individual includes the period of time of 48 hours before the individual became symptomatic.
Critical Infrastructure workers who have had an exposure but remain asymptomatic should adhere to the following practices prior to and during their work shift:
Pre-Screen: Employers should measure the employee’s temperature and assess symptoms prior to them starting work. Ideally, temperature checks should happen before the individual enters the facility.
Regular Monitoring: As long as the employee doesn’t have a temperature or symptoms, they should self-monitor under the supervision of their employer’s occupational health program.
Wear a Mask: The employee should wear a face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after last exposure. Employers can issue facemasks or can approve employees’ supplied cloth face coverings in the event of shortages.
Social Distance: The employee should maintain 6 feet and practice social distancing as work duties permit in the workplace.
Disinfect and Clean work spaces: Clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment routinely.
If the employee becomes sick during the day, they should be sent home immediately. Surfaces in their workspace should be cleaned and disinfected. Information on persons who had contact with the ill employee during the time the employee had symptoms and 2 days prior to symptoms should be compiled. Others at the facility with close contact within 6 feet of the employee during this time would be considered exposed.
Employers should implement the recommendations in the Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 to help prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19in the workplace. Additional information about identifying critical infrastructure during COVID-19 can be found on the DHS CISA websiteexternal icon or the CDC’s specific First Responder Guidance page.