As local businesses prepare to return to work, there are new steps, guidelines, and recommendations from the federal and local government to assist employers in safely opening. It is important to plan ahead to reduce risks and exposure to COVID-19 and ensure adherence to federal and local regulations.
The Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services (“DPHSS”) issued minimum pandemic workplace operational requirements on May 7, 2020 in DPHSS Guidance Memo 2020-07 outlining the minimum steps required for local businesses to reopen. These include:
mandatory use of face masks,
requiring and enforcing social distancing of 6 feet,
physically modifying workspaces to accommodate social distancing,
barring sick individuals from entering or remaining in the workplace,
training employees on updated protocols and policies,
communicating new policies to employees and customers,
screening employees and customers prior to entering the workplace,
utilizing additional cleaning procedures and sanitary practices, and
implementing any industry or agency guidelines.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OHSA”) also issued guidelines to assist all businesses in creating a safe working environment if they are planning to return to work during the pandemic. Most private employers are required, under the Operational Health and Safety Act of 1970, to provide a hazard-free work environment. The recommendations to prepare a workplace for COVID-19 include:
Creating a plan to assess where COVID-19 could be spread at worksites or by individual job tasks and implement measures to address these risks
Using basic infection prevention measures such as handwashing or sanitizing, respiratory etiquette, regular cleaning of workspaces, and staying home when ill
Developing procedures to identify and isolate sick employees, customers, and vendors including flexible sick leave, barring sick or potentially sick individuals from the workplace, and screening of employees and visitors
Communicating new policies and procedures effectively using methods such as entryway signage, a workplace coordinator to screen or answer questions, and employee training
Finally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), also issued interim guidance for non-healthcare employers to reopen based on current information about the transmission of COVID-19. The CDC recommends the following preparations:
reducing transmission among employees by encouraging the sick to stay home and educating employees on how to reduce COVID-19;
maintaining healthy business operations by offering flexible sick leave, socially distancing, and assessing essential business functions;
maintaining a healthy work environment with routine cleaning and proper hygiene.
Local businesses should monitor the DPHSS website for updates to the minimum pandemic workplace operational requirements and for guidance on industry specific practices. The Guam Chamber of Commerce and the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce currently have a list of guidelines recommendations for specific industry workplaces on their websites. Individual businesses should develop their own best practices and policies for employees, vendors, and customers based on the above guidance and regulations. For more detailed information please see the resources below.
The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice. Jennifer Cornely is a Maryland and District Columbia licensed attorney with Blair Sterling Johnson & Martinez, P.C. This information is provided as a service to clients and colleagues. Questions regarding the matters discussed may be directed to the lawyers at Blair Sterling Johnson & Martinez (https://www.bsjmlaw.com/attorneys).