The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released guidance for essential workers to allow them to continue work following potential exposure to the coronavirus, provided they remain asymptomatic and take extra precautions.
A potential exposure means having close contact within six feet of an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, including the 48 hours before the individual displayed symptoms.
The guidance covers critical infrastructure workers, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, which include farm equipment manufacturing operations.
According to the CDC, workers who have potentially been exposed should adhere to the following practices prior to and during their work shift.
Pre-screen: Employers should measure the employee’s temperature and assess symptoms prior to them starting work. Ideally, temperature checks should happen before the individual enters the facility.
Regular monitoring: As long as the employee doesn’t have a temperature or symptoms, they should self-monitor under the supervision of their employer’s occupational health program.
Wear a mask: The employee should wear a face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after last exposure. Employers can issue face masks or can approve employees’ supplied cloth face coverings in the event of shortages.
Social distance: The employee should maintain six feet and practice social distancing as work duties permit.
Disinfect and clean workspaces: Clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, and shared electronic equipment routinely.
If the employee becomes sick during the day, the CDC recommends sending him or her home immediately and cleaning and disinfecting the surfaces in their workspace.
Employers also should compile information on whom the sick person had contact with beginning two days before symptoms appeared.