Prepare Your Workplace

Published by the PA Chamber of Commerce, the information below outlines steps on how to protect your business, your employees and your customers!

Step 1: Prepare

The first step in re-opening is making sure your facility is a safe environment for you, your employees and your customers.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have developed comprehensive guidelines on how best to prepare your workplace. Additionally, the Wolf administration has issued guidance for businesses permitted to operate during the re-opening process, as well as an order directing public health safety measures for Pennsylvania businesses. While it’s critical that employers read the federal and state guidelines in their entirety, here are a few key takeaways:

  • Clean and sanitize your facility prior to welcoming back employees and customers and implement a cleaning procedure.  One way to combat the spread of COVID-19, is to ensure your work environment is cleaned and disinfected regularly. Businesses should maintain pre-existing cleaning protocols, while paying extra attention to clean and disinfect high-touch areas in spaces that are accessible to customers, tenants or other individuals, per guidance issued by the EPA and CDC.  Additionally, the Wolf administration’s “Building Safety Measures” order states businesses need to ensure the facility has a sufficient number of employees to perform the required cleaning protocols.  (Please note – if a person with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 has been in your facility, the CDC has developed additional cleaning and disinfection guidelines.)

  • Develop a plan to allow for continued social distancing. As regions transition from the “red” to “yellow” phase of Governor Wolf’s “Plan for Pennsylvania,” social distancing will continue to be required.  For businesses, this includes (but is not limited to): continuing to allow employees to telework if possible; conducting meetings and trainings virtually if possible; limiting meetings to 10 people or fewer and holding them in large spaces where individuals can spread out; staggering employee work hours, breaks and lunch schedules; limiting the number of people in employee common areas; offering curbside pickup for customers; adding plastic barriers/shields at registers; offering call-ahead services; and limiting the number of customers permitted in a business at one time.

  • Secure the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). The state’s Worker and Building Safety Order requires employers to provide employees with masks while on the work site.  The order also requires all customers to wear masks while on the premises.  A number of Pennsylvania companies have stepped up to produce these critical supplies. A listing of companies providing PPE and cleaning/disinfecting services can be found here.

  • Establish protocols that allow you to respond swiftly if your business is exposed to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19.  This plan must entail the cleaning and disinfecting of the facility per the CDC guidelines; identifying employees that were in close contact with the individual; and implementing temperature screening for employees before entering the building.  The state has outlined what all these protocols need to include in its Worker and Building Safety Order.

Step 2: Take Action

  • Using the guidelines above, implement safety policies and best practices for both employees and customers.  Make sure to take into account travel policies for employees; as well as guidance for vendors and contractors.

  • Communicate with employees the new health and safety protocols that are being put in place.  Provide signage with clear directions and steps on how these protocols should be carried out.  Create a clear and open communication process with employees – both those working on site and remotely – to notify them of any changes or updates.

  • Be transparent with customers about your safety protocols.  Post signs on the entryway doors to communicate the new guidelines and procedures for entering your facility.

Step 3: Stay Informed

  • Sign up for PA Chamber communications to stay up-to-date on the latest re-opening announcements and guideline requirements!

  • Check back regularly for status updates regarding Pennsylvania regions that have been moved to the next phase of re-opening and for additional industry-specific resources as they become available.