Where are we? Phase one, two, and three – what does that mean for your district? As we begin to head down the road of re-opening Oregon, special districts need to consider how they will accomplish this. If you have listened to presentations by either President Trump or Governor Brown, one thing is clear, this will take a little time.
The biggest challenge for the state is to re-open businesses, and our lives in general, in a planned and thoughtful way in order to not overwhelm the healthcare system. This was the entire reason that Oregon has been complying with Stay Home, Save Lives. With about one-third of special districts members in the first responder, 911, and healthcare fields we have a responsibility to help with a measured approach to re-opening our state. All our district members have important roles in the fabric of Oregon. So, what is the risk that members need to be aware of?
The health risks to our employees and volunteers have not changed since the first days of the pandemic. There are groups of people at higher risk if they were to contract the disease that deserve our consideration. Responding to questions initiated by an employee or volunteer in this group where they help you explore options is appropriate. Providing information to all employees about risks and modifications is also appropriate. There is guidance from BOLI, EEOC, and the ADA surrounding this area and you should consult with an HR professional.
As you begin to develop your plans to re-open your facilities, I am recommending that you read and follow all guidance related to the Governor’s executive orders. This guidance will be linked on the SDAO COVID-19 webpage and will be provided in the SDAO COVID-19 emails. Here is a list of areas and considerations for your planning based on Oregon OSHA’s current guidance:
o Individual or team assigned to observe compliance with distancing and hygiene requirements
o Signage to inform individuals in your facilities
o Implement plans for how to hold individuals accountable for failing to comply with requirements
Documented training for employees on items such as:
o Use of PPE or other protective measures
o Use of cleaning and disinfecting agents
o How the virus is spreading from person to person
o Policies, procedures, and expectations
o Industry specific safeguards
o Physical distancing of staff, vendors, and visitors/customers (minimum 6-foot bubble) through the use of floor markings, plexiglass barriers, or other physical barriers
o Regular and documented disinfecting procedures of high traffic areas, common areas, and commonly touched surfaces (break areas, kitchens, restrooms)
o Disinfection of shared items or equipment between each user (copiers, fax machines, vending machines, toilets, sinks, etc.)
o Groups of less than 10 individuals congregating, assuming the individual’s 6-foot bubble can exist at all times
o Restrict use of common areas (conference rooms, break areas, work rooms)
o Introduce more fresh air to dilute virus particles, consider adding HEPA filters or disinfection for recirculated air in HVAC systems
o Ensure adequate hand washing and disinfecting supplies are always available to workers and public
o Consider upgrades to the facilities such as touchless faucets, touchless hand dryers, and touchless payment systems
o Consider appointment only access to individuals who are not employees or volunteers as this allows you to ask screening questions and provide alternative measures to conduct business
o Identify positions to continue telework in order to reduce number of people in facilities and for individuals who are at higher risk of severe complications due to underlying medical conditions
o Consider alternative schedules to reduce the number of individuals in facilities
o Encourage workers to use cloth face coverings as needed
o Limit numbers of meetings and use virtual meetings when possible
o Consider regular employee health checks or self-reporting (such as fever, respiratory symptoms, body aches, chills, etc.)
o Implement a visitor log to assist the county public health department accomplish contact tracing when necessary
o Limit non-essential work travel
Strategies to Limit Spread in Workplace Settings
As workers are returning to district-owned facilities, our goal is to implement strategies that reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We have put together a short document to assist you with ensuring compliance and reviewing best practice strategies that match up with guidance from Oregon OSHA and OHA.