Governor Wolf has implemented an Order from Secretary Levine requiring businesses to implement safety protocols beginning on April 19, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. The Order provides specific requirements which businesses permitted to operate must adhere to protect the safety of their employees, customers and the public. Although many of the provisions of the Order deal with measures to protect customers of commercial businesses, the Order does not differentiate between private enterprises and public employers when mandating steps that employers must take to protect their own employees. For those public entities who are maintaining essential operations during the shutdown, it is imperative that you be aware of the requirements of this Order.
The most significant responsibility of an employer is insuring employees are properly informed of the protocols and comply with the specific guidelines. You must properly educate and instruct your supervisory personnel how to handle an employee’s failure to comply. It is NOT enough just to post the guidelines. Policies and procedures should be prepared or revised to comply with the order. Employees should acknowledge these policies. In terms of specific guidelines, employers are now required to maintain their existing cleaning protocols and, if those protocols were not at the level of those required by the CDC, to establish conforming cleaning protocols for high-touch areas. The Order further sets out a procedures for employers to follow when the employer receives notice that an individual with a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 was in the facility. Moreover, the order specifically mandates certain social distancing practices and requires that meetings and trainings that can conducted virtually be done so and, if such a meeting is impossible, limits attendance to ten (10) or fewer participants. Finally, the Order bars non-essential personnel from the employer’s facility, mandates that all employees wear masks while performing duties, and requires employers to provide handwashing breaks every hour.
If you have any questions as to the practical implementation of this Order, please contact our public sector attorneys for additional guidance.