What Employers Should Know When Returning to Work in NYC Pt. 1 - Zupnick Associates

People who are returning to work in 2020 face a lot of changes. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many new laws have been enacted regarding returning to work. Employers need to be aware of these changes so that they can ensure the safety of their employees and customers. The following article explores the mandates that are in place in NYC related to sanitation in the workplace.

Sanitizing Your NYC Workplace During the Coronavirus

On April 28, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced new guidelines for a staged plan to reopen New York State region by region. In order for a region to begin reopening, it must meet seven metrics. As workplaces begin to re-open they must comply with sanitation and hygiene requirements as recommended by the DOH and CDC. These include:

  • Providing hand hygiene stations that include warm, running water, soap, and paper towels.

  • Hand sanitizer with an alcohol level of at least 60% at hygiene stations where running water is not available.

  • Signs should be in place stating that soiled hands must be washed with soap and water as hand sanitizer is not effective for cleaning.

  • Receptacles must be available at the hygiene stations for the disposal of paper towels and PPE.

  • Routine and regular cleaning, sanitization and disinfection of common areas and work areas and disinfecting supplies should be made available to employees.

  • Frequent cleaning of high risk and high use areas as well as frequently touched surfaces.

  • Rigorous cleaning and disinfection must be ongoing and performed at least after each shift or more often as needed.  

  • All restrooms should be regularly depending on how often they are used.

  • Social distancing rules must be followed by employees when using the restroom.

  • Any tools and equipment that are being used by employees must be disinfected on a regular basis with registered disinfectants as they are used or moved to different workstations.

CDC Regulations for Workplace Cleaning After Exposure to COVID-19

In the case of positive COVID-19 testing of an employee, the following guidelines must be adhered to:

  • Areas that have been or are suspected to have been used by the employee should be closed off temporarily.

  • Outside windows and doors should be opened to improve air circulation and sanitization should not begin for 24 hours, or as long as possible.

  • All exposed areas must be disinfected as should heavy transit areas and shared tools or surfaces, machines, handrails, vehicles, and restrooms.

  • The affected area should not be opened for use until it has been appropriately disinfected.

  • Employees who did not have close contact with the COVID-19 positive employee can return to work once disinfection is complete.

  • Shared food and beverages among employees, such as coffee machines and self-serve meals must not be allowed, Instead, workers should be encouraged to bring a packed lunch from home. Employers should provide enough space for employees to adhere to social distancing while they are eating their meals.

Prior to reopening, employers must read the industry-specific guidelines proposed by New York State that outlines all best practices and requirements for restarting the business. You must also develop a safety plan designed for your specific workplace and industry. The safety plan should be posted in the workplace, where all employees can see it.

You should also provide free face coverings for all your employees in sufficient quantity to allow for daily cleaning and replacement. Employees who are not given a face covering and have to buy their own must be reimbursed for the cost of the covering. You can find out more about where to obtain free face coverings for your employees here.

Employers who wish to see more detailed guidelines for the disinfection and sanitization of their workplaces will find instructions in the DOH’s Interim Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of Public and Private Facilities for COVID-19. For more information about employees returning to work after a COVID-19 infection, you can refer to the DOH’s Interim Guidance for Public and Private Employees Returning to Work Following COVID-19 Infection or Exposure.

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