The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce recently issued a set of best-practices recommendations for businesses in Delaware in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Return to work safely

Through this challenging period of time presented by the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Delaware State Chamber’s goal has been to strike a balance between safeguarding the health of Delaware workers and their families and protecting Delaware’s economy. All Delaware businesses are eager to get back to work. Business operations can and should return to a sustainable level without jeopardizing employees’ or customer safety.

Many Delaware jobs have been deemed “essential” under Gov. Carney’s stay-at-home order. These businesses have developed and implemented detailed strategies to protect their workforce from the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring continuity of operations.

Based on the best practices shared by employers in these critical industries, the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce is happy to provide the following guidelines and suggestions to assist other Delaware businesses in their efforts to provide safe workplaces for their employees and customers as they come back online.

Businesses are eager to have access to testing that will help identify individuals who may be sick with the virus and those who may be immune. Acceleration of testing availability is critically important to restoring public confidence and reopening our economy. Although we encourage businesses to implement these best practices, we remind everyone that all businesses remain subject to the restrictions of current or future executive orders.

COVID-19 prevention best practices

The starting place for all industries is the comprehensive federal guidance provided by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The following suggested guidelines can be replicated as general best practices, applicable to most workplaces.

Personal protection, facilities cleaning and sanitizing

» Create training to review new safe-at-work requirements and guidelines for all employees.

• If returning to work, training and orientations should be done on day one.

• Make information available to employees about Personal Protective Equipment, disinfection measures, social distancing protocol, on-site health screening, signs and symptoms of COVID-19, self-quarantining and return-to-work policies, visitor and contractor screening, signage, time-off options and all other COVID- 19-related safe workplace changes.

» Train employees on frequent hand washing; properly covering coughs and sneezes; refraining from touching the face.

• Clean and sanitize surfaces frequently.

• Make wipes, sanitizer and cleaning products widely accessible throughout workplaces.

• Clean the break rooms and common touch areas (door knobs, etc.) after each shift.

• Thorough cleaning of ALL shared surfaces throughout the facility at least once every 24 hours. This includes common spaces like bathrooms, conference rooms, lunchrooms, etc.

• Shut down production in any area where a COVID-19 affected employee worked (i.e. department, line, station) to conduct cleaning as well as shut down and clean common spaces like bathrooms, conference rooms and lunchrooms once notification of potential COVID-19 spread is suspected.

• Provide masks, shields, gloves, shoe coverings, coveralls, etc. if appropriate and available.

» Provide touch-free solutions

• Touch-free time clocks.

• Individual water containers for workers instead of large water coolers.

Social distancing

» Offer work-from-home options for all employees who can perform duties remotely.

» Change shifts.

• Stagger shifts and start times to maximize distancing.

• Allow 30-minute buffers between shifts if possible so that employees don’t come into contact during transition.

• Cross-train teams, so that teams can better stagger shifts.

» Provide visual markers on floors for 6-foot distancing, per CDC guidance.

» Stagger breaks and lunch schedules.

» Offer lunch breaks in vehicles instead of shared cafeterias or break rooms.

• Employees need to bring their own meals and be able to eat them without use of microwave.

• Restrict movement between departments and/or functions (e.g. don’t allow traffic between production and office workspaces). Conduct phone/email/virtual meetings instead of in-person meetings, even when at office. Limit meetings to no more than 10 individuals, provided appropriate spacing is possible.

» Conduct phone/email/virtual meetings instead of in-person meetings, even when at office.

» Limit meetings to no more than 10 individuals, provided appropriate spacing is possible.

» Hold meetings in large spaces where people can spread out at six-foot intervals. Space out desks and work stations; construct temporary walls between workstations.

» Space out desks and work stations; construct temporary walls between workstations.

Vendor engagement

» Request health and travel assessments for vendors/ contractors coming on-site. Separate contractors and vendors from the workforce (use separate bathrooms and entrances if possible).

» Prohibit nonessential vendors/ deliveries from entering the facility.

» Require deliveries to be dropped outside facility door, eliminating vendors from entering facility.

Customer engagement

» Offer curbside delivery instead of in-store pickup.

» Provide on-site services to customer’s facility once their business is closed (after hours).

» Offer drive-through service only.

» Add plastic barriers at registers.

» Ask customers to stay in their vehicles in parking lot while waiting.

» Offer call-ahead services for parts and service and lock door to walk-in customers.

» Conduct virtual sales calls or see customers by appointment only.

» Limit the number of customers in the facility to ensure appropriate distancing, along with visual markers on floors for 6-foot distancing, per CDC guidance.

Travel policies

» Require a two-week quarantine for employees who return from outside of the country or a domestic COVID-19 hotspot.

» Require a two-week quarantine for employees traveling more than 150 miles from facility.

Monitoring employee health

» Conduct temperature or employee wellness checks at the start of shifts to ensure employees don’t exhibit symptoms (fever >100.4 F, cough, difficulty breathing). Daily monitoring is required under the Governor’s executive order.

» Create a master schedule for all employees that shows when people may come in contact with others; use this for contact tracing in the event of confirmed or suspected exposure.

» Create a response plan for employees who report or demonstrate symptoms at work; were recently at work and tested positive or were in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case; or have not recently been at work but tested positive or was in contact with a confirmed case.

» Ask employees about their health status before they return to work from a sick leave (even if out with a headache).

» Encourage employee use of telemedicine resources to eliminate unnecessary hospital visits.

» Reevaluate sick leave policies

• Offer a variety of options for employees who may have to miss work due to a COVID-19-related reason.

Employee and customer signage

» Post internal signage that can be used to alert or remind employees about guidelines, expectations and responsibilities.

» Post external signs on doors alerting visitors to restrictions on entry and movement in and around facility as well as any applicable guidelines and expectations.

Communications, education and responsibilities

» Educate employees and management to carry on executing plans and protocols as well as clear direction on roles and responsibilities. For example:

• Alert co-workers to use alternate means of contact (phone, email, text).

• Post signs on doors to instruct customers/visitors on business’s safety protocols.

• Provide remote workers with a list of free resources to stay healthy and active at home (i.e. ergonomic tips, stressrelief tools, fitness resources).

• Provide pre-recorded safety training videos for customer-facing activities.

• Maintain an up-to-date repository on the company’s shared network that allows employees to access all COVID-19 documents, resources, and company protocols.

The Chamber’s COVID-19 Resource Page is updated regularly and includes resources to help businesses through this crisis, at www.DSCC.com/Coronavirus.

Repurposed with permission from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce