To prevent the spread of disease and have better control over the current pandemic, the CDC is advising all employers to collaborate with health departments when investigating workplace exposures.
Under the “close contact” definition, it is recommended that employers send employees home if they have had risk of exposure; contact-tracing steps have been established to better adhere to CDC guidelines. COVID – 19 as a nationally identifiable disease, must be reported to health departments, whom are then responsible for leading case investigations on probable and confirmed cases of infection.
The ease and speed at which infections have been seen reported is causing health departments to become overwhelmed, even with the implementation of disease control measurements in place to protect public health. Employer collaboration when at the request of the health department, will assist in limiting the spread of COVID-19 in the work environment.
Employers may be contacted by the health department when an employee has had a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19. Interaction between the health department and the employer will vary depending on several factors, such as the size and type of workplace, the health department’s capacity, and local, state, and federal laws and regulations. In an identified COVID-19 case, the health department may ask the employer for assistance in several ways, including:
- Understanding the level of risk the workplace may be exposed to and how to prevent it.
- Interviews may be initiated by the health department in order to understand the level of transmission.
- Employer reliance.
- Some employers have occupational health or medically trained staff who can conduct some aspect of contact tracing in the workplace.
- Conduct workplace contact tracing without the need of direct employer support.
- The health department may not always have the resources to follow up with employers; local or state privacy laws may limit third-party involvement.
To efficiently collaborate with the health department, employers are encouraged to establish a COVID-19 coordinator or team to facilitate COVID-19 related activities. The chosen coordinator or team can better prepare in understanding the correct procedures by reading The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Contact Tracing guide. Employers are advised to maintain constant communication with employees, creating an awareness and preparedness that will ensure a safer working environment.
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