With all the unknowns of new regulations coming into effect across the country, I know businesses are looking for help to stay compliant. Many employers have to track regulations on the county, city, state and federal level. New laws like California AB-685 that are holding employers to higher standards when it comes to Covid-19 liability in the workplace can be daunting, but there are ways to prepare and educate yourself now. Laws like AB-685 would require employers to take steps like providing written notifications to potentially infected staff within one business day and holding those notifications for three years. There are ways to easily implement solutions for these requirements with minimal disruption to your operations. These types of mandates are not unique to California; other states are following suit. According to recent data from the NCSL, there are over 1,000 active bills in legislation. If your state doesn’t have similar regulations, they are likely coming.
OSHA is already writing citations for Covid-19 violations; in fact, over $3 million in proposed penalties had accrued as of November 2020. So what can you do to prepare for these regulations, stay compliant and protect your business? Here is my guidance:
1. Get involved with your local health department to stay in the know about changes, as they can be fast and frequent. As I mentioned above, some businesses will need to abide by county, city, state and federal mandates, so it’s vital to connect with your local health department to receive updates on exactly what you need to be aware of.
2. Are you providing proper PPE and sanitization according to the CDC’s guidelines? Are you equipped with rapid testing at your facility? Even if your particular region does not require all of these precautions, I urge you to get them set up before the regulations come and before you are in a situation where you wish you had them.
3. Consider how you will securely track employees, notify those who are potentially exposed and get accurate data to your health department as required by law in a timely manner. Many states and businesses have tried implementing apps or wearables. Many of those solutions are failing because of poor adoption, which has resulted in poor coverage. Likely due to security and privacy issues, the adoption rates are often ineffectually low. As of late November 2020, New York’s app only had about a 5% adoption rate.
One alternative to apps or wearables is an automated contact tracing solution that uses your organization’s existing Wi-Fi. You can no longer solely rely on your local health departments for contact tracing. Many health departments are so overwhelmed with cases that they may no longer able to help manually contact trace if your employee tests positive, and the responsibility could fall to you to quickly and accurately trace and notify to stop the spread. Get something in place before the need arises. Several companies, including Blyncsy, SaferMe and Conduent, offer contact tracing solutions.
Even if you don’t have a specific county, city or state mandate now, I think you will soon, so start preparing to get ahead of the curve. Keep yourself, your employees and your customers safe. Stay open.
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