For organizations across the globe, failing to create a COVID-Safe working environment can have a number of serious consequences. A workplace outbreak not only puts your employees’ and customers’ health at risk – it can also damage trust, reduce productivity, and even result in costly closures at a time when many businesses are trying to reboot after an extended period of lockdown.
This is all changing in California, where employers falling short of COVID-Safe guidelines have already received citations and fines of over $800,000 for non-compliance, to date. With details of specific citations being published on California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) website, organizations are simultaneously facing considerable financial penalties and potential damage to their reputation.
Who Has Been Cited So Far?
According to data made publicly available by the state of California, citations so far have been issued to a broad range of businesses: from police departments to fruit farms; from hospitals to grocery stores; and from meat processing plants to offices.
While the measures you must take to comply with regulations will, to some extent, depend on the type of business and sites you operate, the overall message is clear: keep your employees and customers as safe as possible from coronavirus, or face financial penalties.
What Do Organizations Need to Do?
The measures that California businesses must now comply with have been laid out in Cal/OSHA’s published guidance. Each and every organization operating in California must act now to ensure their workspaces are COVID-Safe.
The steps you need to take will be multi-faceted, covering areas such as physical measures, administrative controls, and employee training.
So far, organizations are being cited for failing to accommodate and enforce physical measures such as social distancing, mask-wearing, and installing protective barriers between workers and customers. In some instances, even when businesses have put the correct processes in place, some have still received citations from failure to adequately train employees on how to follow and enforce those processes.
Financial penalties are also being levied for failing to adequately document and report cases of coronavirus – with multiple citations noting a lack of proper record keeping as a reason for the penalty. This will become even more important for businesses under the notification requirements included in the recently signed CA AB 685, which comes into effect on January 1, 2021.
As a result, you need to ensure you’re simultaneously taking all the right steps to protect your workers and your customers, while consistently recording and reporting key data to meet Cal/OSHA’s requirements.
Protecting Workers and Customers
OSHA recommends a number of administrative controls to help businesses limit exposure to the virus. In particular, the guidelines state employers should encourage workers to self-monitor for symptoms and stay home if they suspect they have the virus.
Daily self-screening can be a highly effective method to help identify, report and record symptoms of COVID-19, supporting businesses to simultaneously comply with Cal/OSHA’s administrative controls and maintain adequate documentation of both the measures you’ve put in place and any potential cases.
By prompting your employees to answer a few short health questions daily before each and every shift, you can encourage clear, consistent self-monitoring across your workforce.
The consistency here is key. Information about coronavirus can often be contradictory, confusing, and complicated. Your employees need to be crystal clear on what symptoms to look out for, and what factors could mean they’re at risk of having the virus, in order to consistently and continuously self-monitor. Ensuring that adequate staff training is carried out is paramount and forms a key element of ensuring that your business is as COVID-Safe as possible.
Establishing a structured framework through daily self-screening can help deliver this clarity, and remove any doubt in the employee’s mind as to whether they should stay home to protect others.
Screenin.me is a simple, effective and affordable way to help keep COVID-19 out of the workplace. Employees simply access our cloud-based platform on their mobile, tablet or desktop to answer a few questions (available in multiple languages, if needed) before they leave for work each day. Questions are defined by each employer, so you can ensure you’re measuring the right criteria for your business when determining whether someone should stay home.
Employees receive an instant PASS or FAIL response from Screenin.me, clearly indicating whether they are safe to attend work that day. The screening results are updated for administrators in real-time, enabling you to ensure only those who have passed the daily screening are allowed on the premises, while specific question responses are highly confidential – protecting the privacy of your workforce, and encouraging transparency in their responses.
Results are timestamped and recorded accurately and automatically by Screenin.me. Records are kept accessible for your administrators – so if an outbreak does occur, you have the documentation ready to respond quickly, provide information to authorities and support tracking and tracing of the virus.
When combined with rigorous physical and procedural measures, along with employee training, Screenin.me can help minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure within your organization, while helping to protect your business against potential financial penalties, regulatory scrutiny, and reputational damage.
To find out how we can support your organization, get in touch with our team today.