As the nation’s employers continue their efforts to return to pre-COVID “normal,” they are struggling to navigate current local, state, and federal guidelines- while also anticipating the very real possibility that COVID-19 guidelines may become OSHA protocols. Preparing early can help alleviate any possible issues that may arise, and make for an easier adjustment period. We’ve outlined some basic changes your business can make in order to minimize the potential chaos once OSHA guidelines are put in place. However, as state laws and mandates differ, we do recommend consulting with your medical and legal teams before enacting any formal changes.
As a basic level of standards, employers should have employees wear masks, maintain a social distance of at least 6 ft wherever possible, encourage hand washing, and implement constant disinfection of common spaces. These will set a strong foundation for any policies implemented in the future. However, some companies, particularly in states that have severely loosened any government requirements, have neglected these general safety precautions.
Mandatory testing is a great way to take your safety precautions to the next level. If employees are going to be working in close quarters, or have prolonged exposure to one another, regular testing is a great way to ensure COVID-19 is not being spread amongst your team. While some (or all) of your team may be vaccinated, it is important to remember that there is the possibility that your vaccinated employees can be carrying the virus (unbeknownst to them) into your office. Regularly scheduled testing is a great way to keep it from taking root in the office.
For example, the Biden Administration requires all federal employees and federal contractors to be tested regularly. Weekly testing is a great starting point- especially for any employees who may not be vaccinated. Depending on the size of your business, as well as the nature of your business (are there a lot of strangers coming in and out of your office regularly?), bi-weekly testing may be a better choice. Either way, we understand this may seem like a daunting and expensive task. After all, who will pay for the tests and the professionals needed to administer those tests?
However, there are testing resources, such as the 10-minute Antigen tests from Medek Health, that can offer quick, affordable and effective results that will protect your employees with a lot less hassle than other alternatives.
Create a Vaccination Policy
It’s important to preface this section by saying mandatory vaccine policies are already being legally challenged by several states, organizations and private individuals. With that being said, many companies are considering and implementing a vaccination policy.
Actually implementing a vaccination policy can be as easy as requiring just proof of vaccination. However, you will also need to consider the resources needed to support non-vaccinated personnel, and address any potential divides between the vaccinated and unvaccinated. Some companies are also approaching current employees and new employees differently. While they may not have a vaccination policy in place (yet) for current staff members, they are requiring new employees to have a vaccine.
Ultimately, you are the best judge as to what may be best for your business and your employees. However, having a fully vaccinated staff is a great way to keep serious illness away from your workplace.
When implementing a vaccination mandate, it’s important to keep in mind that some may already be vaccinated, others may consider it to keep working, yet others may have health, religious, or practices that conflict with getting the vaccine. It’s important to understand that law may require you to implement accommodations for qualified individuals.
Collecting and Verifying Vaccination Records
If your business makes the decision to move ahead with a mandatory vaccination policy, it is important to maintain a database with proof of vaccinations. This will help meet any verification requirements set by OSHA and provide insight regarding those in your organization who are vaccinated.
Medek Health recommends the software SafePass. This can be accessed by anyone in a leadership position. It provides access to all the information needed in a secure and encrypted environment. Having the proper software will help protect both the personal information of your employees, and prevent possible data leaks that have plagued some competitors.
OSHA, COVID, and What it Means for Your Business
There is an expression that many have used to describe life in a pandemic, “We are learning how to sail this ship while building it at the same time.” That could be taken a step further to say we are actually sailing in fifty different ships- one for each state. When considering how to prepare for OSHA COVID mandates and regulations, there isn’t a one-stop-shop guide that we can offer. However, the Medek Health team of professionals are knowledgeable and are happy to discuss your business and circumstances personally in order to come up with the best COVID-19 prevention solutions for your organization. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help!