Connecticut’s State Department of Economic and Community Development Issues New Workplace Safety Rules

Connecticut’s State Department of Economic and Community Development Issues New Workplace Safety Rules

On April 7, 2020, Connecticut’s State Department of Economic and Community Development (the “DECD”) issued new workplace safety regulations. The new DECD regulations took immediate effect and are mandatory for all employers that continue to operate during the Coronavirus pandemic. The rules are summarized as follows:

i.            General Rules

  • If an essential employee can perform the essential functions of their job at home then they should be working from home
  • Employees that have traveled internationally should self-monitor for fourteen days before returning to work
  • Employees that have traveled to an area where COVID-19 is active should self-monitor for fourteen days before returning to work
  • All non-essential workplace travel should be eliminated
  • Employers must distribute summaries of health insurance processes and procedures to employees
  • Employers must police their business premises by:
    • Prohibiting entry by non-essential visitors
    • Interviewing approved visitors about their current health condition and recent travel history
    • Using hand sanitizer at point of entry to the facility
  • Manufacturing Entities should Shut Down the facility when production is not needed whenever practical (even if you ramp on and off on a daily basis)
  • Essential retail entities must continue to follow the Essential Safe Store Rules which will continue to guide safety in those locations for employees and customers.

ii.            Controlling contact between employees and other employees or customers

  • Employers should develop and implement best practices for social distancing:
    • Avoiding large gatherings
    • Maintaining six feet of distance between others
    • Eliminate in-person meetings
    • Discourage carpooling
    • Increase physical space between employees and customers (e.g., drive through, Plexiglas partitions)
    • Deliver services remotely (e.g. phone, video, or web) where practical
    • Deliver products through curbside pick-up or delivery when possible
  • For employers with employees working in multiple shifts:
    • Where possible, utilize nights and weekends to spread out work schedules and provide for social distancing
    • If possible, move from one or two shifts to three shifts. Keep each shift with the same people each day. That way, if a person on one shift becomes sick, workers on the other shifts are protected. This arrangement can also work by having one crew work for part of the week and one crew for the other part of the week. This may also accommodate shifting child care schedules.
    • Provide time between each work shift to avoid overlap and allow for cleaning of the work environment at regular and appropriate intervals
    • Stagger shift start/stop times, break times, and lunchtimes to minimize congregations at the time clocks or break areas
  • Where possible, segment the workspace into discrete zones. Prohibit employees from entering into zones where they are not required to be to perform their jobs.

iii.          Eliminating transmission points

  • Reduce common touch points by opening internal doors where possible
  • Install all no-touch disposal receptacle or remove lids that require contact to open for non-hazardous waste containers unless doing so creates an unsanitary environment
  • Frequent cleaning of all touch points.
  • Secure all secondary doors and access points to minimize incidental contact
  • Recommended to provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks, other work tools and equipment) can be wiped down.
  • To disinfect surfaces, use products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-Cov-2 and are appropriate for the surface
  • Prohibit workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible. If shared, clean and disinfect equipment before and after use
  • Employees should clean their personal workspace at the beginning and the end of every shift
  • If a sick employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, follow the CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations

iv.        Guidelines for essential employees

  • Reduce common touch points by opening internal doors where possible
  • Employees who are ill should stay home
  • Where possible, employees should take their temperature before they go to work. If they have a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, they should stay home
  • Make hand sanitizer available to employees who do not have ready access to soap and water
  • Place posters that encourage hand hygiene to help stop the spread at the entrance to your workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen
  • Whether at work or at home, all employees are advised to follow the CDC guidelines for preventing transmission of COVID-19 including:
    • Washing hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching mouth and nose, avoiding close contact with others, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, using cough and sneeze etiquette, and staying at home when sick
    • Employees should not touch their face and should use cloth face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

v.      Guidelines for employees who had close contact with a person with symptoms of or have been diagnosed with COVID-19

  • Do not go to work
  • Notify your supervisor
  • Isolate yourself from the rest of the people in your home
  • Consult your healthcare provider
  • Practice home isolation as recommended by your healthcare provider

vi.    Guidelines for workplace illness

  • Guidelines if an employee is exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19:
    • Employees who have symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, or shortness of breath) should notify their supervisor and stay home
    • Sick employees should follow CDC-recommended steps. Employees should not return to work until the criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments
    • Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and follow CDC recommended precautions
    • If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19 infection, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Fellow employees should then self-monitor for symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, or shortness of breath)
    • Employees should not return to work until the criteria to end home isolation is met as instructed in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments

vii.  Additional rules specific to construction sites

  • Clean portable bathrooms no less than every two days
  • Require employees to travel separately to and from, and within, worksites
  • Reschedule work to maximize the amount of work being performed outdoors, limit indoor or work lacking significant fresh air
  • Shift work to limit the size of the crews on the jobsite, especially indoors
  • Rotate lunch and coffee break shifts, requiring workers to follow the CDC social distancing guidelines during meals or breaks
  • Follow all safety and health protocols when using an elevator
  • Provide an adequate supply of PPE, including but not limited to masks, gloves, hand sanitizer
  • Employers should post the following at their place of business so that their employees may be apprised of the DECD’s new workplace safety rules
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