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PA Employers Must Initiate Additional Measures to Protect Employees

April 17, 2020


Yesterday, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, Rachel Levine, MD, ordered employers to institute additional measures of mitigation to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Order is applicable to all Pennsylvania employers authorized to maintain in-person operations during the pandemic, other than health care providers. While some employers have utilized many of the required new measures, such as retailers, supermarkets, drug stores, and home improvement centers, this Order alerts the non-retail sector that they too must implement similar measures.

The April 15, 2020 Order provides that any business permitted to remain open “shall implement, as applicable” the following precautions to protect the health of its employees and the public with whom they may come in contact. These requirements are in addition to all pre-existing procedures for social distancing, cleaning protocols and other measures of mitigation:

  • Establish protocols to limit the spread of coronavirus if the employer learns that the business has been exposed to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19. These protocols must include: (1) closing off areas visited by the person; (2) identification of employees who were in “close contact” with such persons (defined as “within about 6 feet for about 10 minutes”) from the period 48 hours before symptom onset to the time at which the patient isolated; and (3) implement temperature screening. In addition, employees who have COVID-19 symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, or shortness of breath) should notify their supervisor and stay home. Sick employees should not return to work and should follow CDC recommended protocols.
  • Stagger work start and stop times, and break times, when practicable to prevent gatherings of large groups.
  • Provide sufficient amount of space to maintain social distance of 6 feet between employees during breaks.
  • Limit the number of employees in common areas at any given time.
  • Provide employees access to regular handwashing with soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes and ensure that common areas and rest rooms are cleaned on a regular basis, including between shifts. Schedule handwashing breaks for employees every hour.
  • Provide masks for employees to wear in the workplace and make it a mandatory requirement to wear masks while on work site. Medical grade masks should be reserved for healthcare workers, but employers may approve masks obtained or made by employees in accordance with CDC guidance.
  • Require customers/visitors to wear masks while on premises and deny entry if they refuse to comply (some exceptions apply).
  • Prohibit non-essential visitors from entering business premises.
  • Where possible, conduct business by appointment only to limit crowding and post signage to remind employees and visitors to maintain social distance of 6 feet.
  • Ensure that all employees are made aware of these required procedures by communicating them in the employee’s native or preferred language as well as in English.

These new requirements are now in effect, but the Order will not be enforced until April 19, 2020. Montgomery McCracken attorneys are available to assist clients with any questions you may have regarding these new requirements and other issues related to COVID-19. Visit the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center for more information and updates on this constantly evolving situation.