RETURNING TO WORK GUIDE FOR EMPLOYEES

RETURNING TO WORK GUIDE FOR EMPLOYEES 

Office of Administration

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA

UPDATED: MAY 20, 2020 

Contents Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………….. 2 

Returning to the Worksite ………………………………………………………………….. 4 

Staying Safe at Work—Personal Safety ………………………………………………….. 4 

Wearing a Mask………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4 

Cleaning a Mask …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 6 

Gloves ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 7 

Social Distancing ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 7 

Break and Meal Protocols ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 11 

Cleaning Personal Workspace………………………………………………………………………………………… 11 

Worksite Safety ……………………………………………………………………………. 12 

Worksite Visitors and Screening Guidance ………………………………………………………………….. 12 

Worksite Exposure Protocols …………………………………………………………………………………………. 13 

Post-Exposure Health Screening …………………………………………………………………………………… 14 

Post-Worksite Exposure Cleaning and Disinfecting …………………………………………………… 14 

Leave Policy ………………………………………………………………………………… 16 

Travel Guidance ……………………………………………………………………………. 16 

Traveling by Vehicle ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 16 

Traveling to Other Worksites …………………………………………………………………………………………. 16 

Traveling on Mass Transit ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 17 

Cleaning Work Vehicles …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 17 

Frequently Asked Questions ……………………………………………………………… 17 

Resources …………………………………………………………………………………… 17 

Returning to Work Website ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 17 

State Employee Assistance Program (SEAP) ………………………………………………………………. 17 

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Introduction 

On March 6, 2020, pursuant to Section 7301(c) of Pennsylvania’s Emergency Management Services Code, 35 Pa.C.S. § 7301(c), Governor Wolf issued a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency (“Proclamation”) related to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. On March 13, 2020, President Trump declared a national emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

On April 22, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf presented a plan for reopening the commonwealth. The following guidance will be in place to support best public health practices to avoid negative impacts and adapt to the changing nature of the pandemic. This guidance will be in place for approved activities until further notice. 

As the commonwealth moves through the red, yellow and green phases of the reopening plan, it is important to follow these basic tenets: 

Safety First: Follow all guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Health (DOH); use the provided check lists and guidance to ensure compliance with the Secretary of Health’s Worker Safety Order

Telework First: All employees that are able to telework should continue to do so unless told otherwise by their agency. 

Personal Responsibility: We are all in this together, and everyone plays a role by following the CDC and DOH guidelines for handwashing, social distancing, wearing masks, and staying home if you are sick. 

Employees of the LCB, Attorney General, PGCB, Auditor General and all other agencies not under the Governor’s jurisdiction should contact their local HR office for assistance. 

Please note the following guidance may differ for 24/7 operations including correctional facilities, state hospitals and centers, veterans’ homes, and youth development centers, as well as those agencies following CISA’s guidance for critical infrastructure workers. Employees within such operations should continue to follow the guidance issued by their agency. 

In cases where a provision of an approved labor agreement or side letter cannot be reconciled with this policy, the labor agreement or side letter will control. 

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Returning to the Worksite 

The worksite may feel different upon your return and reflect what you are seeing in the commonwealth at large. There will be guidelines for social distancing, wearing masks, and cleaning, as well as potential health screenings when coming into the worksite. 

Before you report to work, be sure to do the following: 

  • Watch this video and remind yourself of ways to take personal responsibility to stop the spread of COVID 19: 6 Ways to Stop the Spread of COVID 19
  • Enter the worksite wearing a mask that is compliant with the CDC guidelines. Your worksite supervisor will have more information on personal protective gear but be safe and show up in a mask. 
  • Know that you will be required to: o Wash your hands frequently using these guidelines. o Keep a social distance space of six feet apart at all times including during breaks and 

meal periods. o Follow any markers, signs or guidance for entry and exit from work and adhere to 

any health screening that may be occurring at your worksite. o Keep your personal equipment and workstation clean. 

  • Please take time to review the Return to Work website for commonwealth employees. 

Please direct any questions about returning to work to your supervisor. 

Staying Safe at Work—Personal Safety 

We all must do our part to protect our personal health and safety, as well as the health and safety of others, both at work and outside of work. 

Wearing a Mask 

Nonmedical masks or bandanas must be worn by all employees on the jobsite or in the worksite, until such time that the Secretary of Health’s order requiring them is lifted. Wearing a mask is meant to protect other people in case you are infected. Remember this saying: “My mask protects you; your mask protects me.” Also note, wearing a mask is not a substitute for social distancing. 

Employees will be provided with a mask the meets CDC guidelines for the work environment. Employees will have the option to wear their own mask, provided it meets the CDC guidelines. Supervisors will have the discretion to require an employee to remove a mask if they deem it to be inappropriate and direct the employee to use an alternative mask. 

When in the worksite, nonmedical masks: 

  • Must be worn when in a vehicle with another individual and when using drive-through services. 
  • Must always be worn around others, even if social distancing can be maintained. 
  • May be removed if it impedes vision, if an employee has a medical condition, or if it would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task. 

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  • May be removed to eat or drink during breaks and lunch periods, however, at those times, social distancing should be practiced. 
  • May be removed when driving alone or when isolated in a closed personal office. 
  • Must be worn by all visitors to the worksite. 
  • Must be worn by employees when conducting business at the worksites of other entities. 

You should provide a mask to any visitors without one. If they refuse to wear a mask, you should ask them to return at another time, or determine if you can assist them while maintaining social distancing. Safety should be the first priority in considering how to handle the situation. 

How to Wear a Mask 

  • Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 
  • The mask should fit snugly around the mouth and nose; if the mask has a metal wire, it should be fitted snugly to the bridge of the nose. 
  • Avoid touching the mask while wearing it. 
  • Cloth masks should be washed frequently, ideally after each use. 
  • Medical masks should not be worn unless required by job function, in which case, follow CDC guidance on Optimizing PPE. 
  • A mask should not be worn if it is damp or when wet from saliva or mucus. 
  • Remove the mask from behind, being careful not to touch the front. 
  • Immediately wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after removing the mask. 

Making a Mask 

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
  • PA Department of Health 

Best practices for homemade masks (fabric or cloth): 

  • Consider buying materials online to avoid exposure in public places. 

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  • Purchase masks made by small businesses in order to save medical masks for health care workers. 
  • Masks should: o be made out of two layers of tightly woven 100% cotton fabric o fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face o be secured with ties or ear loops o include multiple layers of fabric o allow for breathing without restriction o be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to the shape 

Breaks While Wearing Masks 

Depending upon the nature of an employee’s duties and their immediate work environment, some employees may need additional respites from wearing a mask. If necessary, employees in this situation will be permitted reasonable time away from their work areas so that they may remove their mask for this purpose. 

Medical Exceptions for Masks 

Employees with medical conditions that prevents them from wearing a mask should contact their supervisor prior to returning to the worksite to discuss alternatives, such as social distancing. 

Work Exceptions for Masks 

Employees with work assignments where a mask may be considered a safety issue should contact their supervisor prior to returning to the worksite. An employee does not need to wear a mask if it impedes their vision, if they have a medical condition, or would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task. In the event that the assignment was not identified prior to returning to work, employees should discuss with their supervisor before removing the mask. If a mask cannot be worn, social distancing shall be maintained using alternative solutions. 

Cleaning a Mask 

Masks should be washed after every use. Sanitize nonmedical masks per manufacturer’s recommendation prior to each use. 

Machine Washing 

Step 1: Wash in hot water and regular laundry detergent. Bleach can also be used. Step 2: Machine dry on high heat until no longer damp. 

Handwashing 

Step 1: Wash in warm soapy water. Step 2: Rinse thoroughly with water on both sides and straps. Step 3: Air dry fully. Hanging is preferred to allow both sides to dry fully. 

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Gloves 

Gloves will only be provided to employees who require them to perform certain job functions, such as handling mail, custodial work, certain trades, and groundskeeping. Gloves are not recommended for general protective use for the following reasons: 

  • Touching your face with contaminated hands, whether gloved or not, poses a significant risk of infection. 
  • Gloves often create a false sense of security for the individuals wearing them; people are more likely to touch contaminated surfaces because they feel protected from the virus. 
  • When wearing gloves, people are less inclined to wash their hands, even though handwashing is the number-one defense against any virus. 
  • Proper removal of gloves takes training. If contaminated gloves are not removed properly, employees are exposed to greater risk. 

Employees who use cleaning chemicals are required to use disposable gloves. Other personal protective equipment may also be required by the chemical manufacturer. Check chemical warning labels and safety data sheets for appropriate personal protective equipment. Disposable gloves are required to be worn when cleaning, including trash removal, after a known or suspected exposure to an individual with COVID-19. These items shall be disposed of immediately after cleaning. 

Mail Handling 

Employees who handle and process mail should attempt to complete processing activities in well-ventilated areas. They should avoid touching mouth, eyes, or face when handling mail. If employees choose to wear gloves while handling mail, gloves should be made of breathable material and should be changed when grossly dirty or when perforated. Gloves should be removed when not completing mail processing activities and frequent handwashing and sanitization is strongly encouraged. 

Social Distancing 

Social distancing is a simple and very effective way to prevent the potential the spread of infection. In practice this means: 

  • Staying six feet away from others as a normal practice. 
  • Eliminating physical contact with others, such as handshakes or embracing coworkers, visitors, or friends. 
  • Avoiding touching surfaces that are touched by others as much as possible. 
  • Avoiding anyone who appears to be sick or who is coughing or sneezing. 

Locations where social distancing should be practiced include, but are not limited to, production lines, cafeterias, common areas, entrance/exit areas of worksites, and offices. 

Social Distancing through Telework 

Subject to operational needs and the ability to continue full job duties, employees may be permitted to continue temporary telework to maintain social distancing. Employees should speak with their supervisor regarding telework options, if applicable. Guidance can be found at Temporary Telework

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Employees should contact their agency’s information technology help desk for assistance with utilizing technology needed to telework for their job. 

Social Distancing at Shift Changes 

Where operationally feasible, worksites will implement staggered shifts as discussed below to maintain social distancing and provide an opportunity to disinfect the worksite. Supervisors will provide guidance to employees prior to returning to work. 

Start and end times will be staggered by at least 15 minutes. In cases where start and end times are already staggered, supervisors will ensure adequate separation exists, with the ultimate goal of avoiding groups of employees waiting in a particular area. 

Recommendations for shift changes: 

  • Employees are to enter and exit through designated areas. Facilities with multiple entrances may designate employees to specific entrances. 
  • Example work schedule start times o Group 1 – 7:00 to 7:15 a.m. o Group 2 – 7:30 to 7:45 a.m. o Group 3 – 8:00 to 8:15 a.m. 
  • End of shift times may also be staggered so that employees leave in the same order in which they arrived. 

Staggered work schedules will vary by worksite and operational needs. Employees should discuss with their supervisor any concerns with carpools, mass transit, or other factors that may impact their work schedule. 

During start/end of shift, employees should: 

  • Avoid gathering when entering and exiting the facility. 
  • Remain in their cars until their scheduled window of start time. 
  • Maintain six feet of space between each person while waiting in line to enter the facility. o Supervisors can use tape on floors to mark off six feet for employees to stand apart. 
  • Not touch the time clock or entry door handle with an exposed finger(s) or hand (if possible). 
  • Not touch their face before they have had a chance to wash their hands. 
  • Be patient with staff conducting health screenings. Employees will not be required to submit leave if they are tardy due to screening procedures. 
  • Remain in their car if there are long lines or inclement weather. 
  • Wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol upon arrival and prior to departure. 

Social Distancing Between Floors 

Employees who are physically able are encouraged to use the stairwells. If they must use the elevator, no more than three individuals should be in an elevator at one time. This may vary depending on the size of the elevator and employees are encouraged to use their discretion to maintain social distancing. 

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Social Distancing in Meetings 

Meetings should be conducted using the commonwealth’s Skype for Business platform to avoid in-person gatherings whenever possible. If a meeting must be held in-person, the following protocols apply: 

  • In-person meetings will be limited to 10 persons even when the meeting area is large enough to accommodate prescribed social distancing measures; and 
  • Meeting rooms must accommodate a social distancing requirement of six feet of separation for everyone in attendance. 

Employees should work with their IT staff to ensure that proper software and technology are available to accommodate social distancing requirements. If an employee needs an accommodation, they should work with their supervisor to identify personal needs. Accommodations may include advance copies of documents, an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, computer-assisted real-time captioning (CART), extra time to review information, alternative virtual software platforms, etc. 

Social Distancing at Your Workstation 

  • Whenever possible, workstations will be arranged to allow separation of six feet and consideration should be given to arranging seating so that employees are not directly facing each other. If this condition cannot be met, employees should speak with their supervisor about alternative measures to mitigate exposure, such as the following: o Staggered work shifts o Face masks o Face shields o Body orientation o Physical barriers may also be installed where practical; the barriers must be cleaned 

multiple times a shift o Meeting rooms may be converted to workstations 

  • Employees should disinfect their personal workspace multiple times a day, giving special attention to frequently touched surfaces, such as computer keyboards, phones, and desktops. 
  • Employees should avoid touching their face and must wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water several times during their shift to reduce the risk of potential person-to- person infections. 
  • Employees at worksites that serve the public should be permitted reasonable time each hour to wash their hands. 

Social Distancing During Restroom Breaks 

Social distancing guidelines for restroom breaks include the following: 

  • Occupy alternate urinals and restroom stalls to maintain separation of six feet. 
  • Avoid congregating in the restroom. Be courteous and aware of others’ need to use the restroom. 
  • To the extent possible, do not touch doorknobs, faucets, paper towel dispensers, etc. with clean, bare hands. See the CDC guidance on handwashing for proper precautions and hand washing techniques when using the restroom. 

Facilities management will be increasing the frequency of cleaning of all restroom facilities. 

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Social Distancing with the Public 

Worksites that serve the public may follow additional social distancing practices, including: 

  • Conducting business by appointment only. If appointments are not feasible, limiting building occupancy to 50% of the total occupancy. 
  • Designating specific times for high-risk and elderly people to obtain services at least once a week. 
  • Arranging points of service to encourage six feet of distance between visitors and posting signs about social distancing requirements. 
  • Requiring a mask to enter the worksite. 
  • Using shields or other barriers In situations where social distancing cannot be maintained. 

Other Infection Prevention Protocols 

Employees should also use hand sanitizer, wipes, and tissues to prevent potential infection. For more information on how to stop the spread of COVID-19 please refer to Help Stop the Spread

Take a moment and watch the video below for information on how to protect yourself from COVID – 19. 

Noncompliance with Personal Safety Guidelines 

Employees who do not comply with the personal safety guidelines outlined herein will be subject to corrective action up to and including removal from employment. 

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Break and Meal Protocols 

Scheduling 

Employee breaks and meal periods will be staggered, when operationally feasible, to limit the number of employees in communal spaces at one time. Supervisors may alter meal periods and breaks to accommodate social distancing. Employees with medical conditions that require specific break times should speak with their supervisor prior to returning to work. Employees are encouraged to consider alternate sites for breaks which may include their workstation, designated meeting room, car, or outside space (if available). 

In consultation with the local Employee Relations Representative, supervisors will discuss any necessary work schedule changes that are required until such time as the state of emergency has ceased. 

Seating and Capacity 

  • Employees should sit six feet apart during breaks. Consider removing chairs or designating seats that can be used. 
  • Employees should adhere to posted occupancy limits in communal areas, including around vending and ATM machines. 
  • Employees should begin and end breaks at designated times. 

Cleaning 

  • Employee should wipe tables, seats, all surfaces, refrigerator, vending machines, coffee pots, and microwave ovens before and after each use. 

Communal Areas 

Employees should try to avoid direct contact with hard surfaces in communal areas, including refrigerators, microwaves, coffee pots, water coolers/fountains, chairs, tables, etc. Employees are encouraged to use paper towels to touch any surface and use wipes to disinfect before and after every use. 

Communal spaces should be cleaned throughout the day, with twice per shift as the minimum. 

Cleaning Personal Workspace 

Frequently touched areas or personal workstations—including tables, desktops, light switches, phones and keyboards—should be cleaned regularly. 

The CDC recommends cleaning appropriate surfaces with soap and water, if dirty, followed by a disinfectant. Many products recommend keeping the surface wet for a period of time or wearing gloves when using, so it is important to follow the instructions on the product label. 

Specifically, for electronics, remove visible contamination if present. If manufacturer guidance for cleaning is unavailable, consider cleaning these surfaces with alcohol-based 

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wipes or sprays containing at least 70 percent alcohol. Dry surfaces thoroughly to avoid pooling of liquids. Sprays should be applied to paper towel prior to disinfecting electronics. 

Supervisors will provide instructions and appropriate cleaning tools for your workstation. 

Worksite Safety 

Worksite Visitors and Screening Guidance 

Non-essential visitors will be prohibited from entering the worksite unless otherwise approved by your agency leadership. Meetings should take place virtually to practice social distancing. 

If critical in-person visits must occur, they should be scheduled in advance by appointment, where feasible, and must follow the social distancing guidance provided in this guide. Employees should discuss with their supervisor any situation where they believe an in- person visit must occur. 

All visitors must wear a mask. The meeting organizer must inform visitors of this requirement in advance. If needed, meeting organizers should provide links or other informational resources on how visitors can make a mask. If a visitor does not have a mask: 

  • An unused or sanitized mask should be provided, if available. 
  • The meeting could be rescheduled to allow the visitor to obtain a mask and mask making informational resources can be provided. 
  • Entrance to the worksite shall be denied and alternate arrangements to serve the visitor shall be made. 
  • Ask if the visitor has a medical condition (including children under the age of 2 years per CDC guidance) that does not allow them to wear a mask. Documentation of the medical condition is not required. 

Meeting organizers must ensure visits and contractor work are conducted in a manner that limits exposure to employees to the extent feasible by: 

  • Ensuring visitors and contractors take a direct route to the meeting or work areas and do not unnecessarily interact with employees. 
  • Practicing social distancing themselves at all times and instructing visitors regarding expectations to follow social distancing. 
  • Following expected hygiene practices and instructing visitors regarding expectations that they follow this guidance. 
  • Using dedicated meeting rooms where possible and ensuring that common surfaces are disinfected between meetings. Visitor service areas will be closed for cleaning no less than once per hour. 

The meeting organizer must meet the visitor inside the entrance to the building unless the building has implemented a centralized visitor screening process. Meeting organizers are responsible for screening visitors prior to admission to the meeting. 

  • The screening should be conducted using the visitors and contractors screening script

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  • Although the meeting organizer is responsible to ensure that visitor screening occurs, the completion of the verbal screening can be delegated to another employee. 

Worksite Exposure Protocol 

With the reopening of commonwealth operations comes the possibility of employees entering the worksite with having had exposure to COVID-19. Employees are encouraged to stay home if they are ill. Please note the following guidance may differ for 24/7 operations including correctional facilities, state hospitals and centers, veterans’ homes, and youth development centers, as well as those agencies following CISA’s guidance for critical infrastructure workers. Employees within such operations should continue to follow the guidance issued by their agency. 

An employee who exhibits symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, headache, muscle pain, or new loss of taste or smell) at the worksite should will be sent home and advised to seek medical assistance immediately. (If an employee does not have a health care provider, they will be referred to their local health department or 1-877-PA- HEALTH.) 

The employee should be provided with a copy of the Referral to Medical Services Notice – Commonwealth Employee and a Return to Work Status Form, which must be completed by a medical provider and submitted to the HR Service Center – FMLA Services (Fax: 717-425- 5389 or email: ra-spfabsence@pa.gov). These forms provide instructions to employees on the medical documentation needed to return to work and how to obtain guidance on the proper leave to use. 

Worksite protocols should be implemented if it is determined an individual that has been in the worksite is a positive case of COVID-19. 

Worksite Exposure Protocol: 

  1. Close off and ventilate areas of exposure, if possible. 2. There is no need to close the entire office/worksite. Staff may remain at work if they did not have close contact with the individual diagnosed with COVID-19. (See #4 below) 3. Management will work with DGS to arrange for enhanced cleaning and disinfection of 

the impacted work and common areas. 4. The individual who is a positive case of COVID-19 will be asked to identify others at the worksite with whom they had close contact so they can be notified. The identity of the employee that has been deemed a positive case will be kept confidential. (Close contact is defined as being within six feet for ten minutes or more. This includes the period of 48 hours before symptom onset.) 5. Employees who had close contact will be informed and advised to contact their health care provider. They also should be provided with the Referral to Medical Services Notice – Employees and Return to Work Status Form. As mentioned previously, these forms provide instructions to employees on the medical documentation needed to return to work and how to obtain guidance on the proper leave to use. For more information about leave, refer to the COVID-19 Leave Information website or contact the HR Service Center – FMLA Services at 866-377- 2672. 

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  1. Health screening will be implemented at the worksite when feasible. (See Below: 

Post-Exposure Health Screening) Agencies have the option of incorporating temperature screening as part of this process. 

Additional Information for Employees Diagnosed with COVID-19 

An employee that has been diagnosed with COVID-19 should follow the guidance provided by the CDC. An employee is not to return to the worksite until the CDC criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with the employee’s health care provider. 

Additional support services for employees are available 24/7 from the State Employee Assistance Program (SEAP) at 1-800-692-7459, or visit the Live and Work Well website (To browse as a guest, use access code: Pennsylvania) 

Post-Exposure Health Screening 

Health screening is to be implemented for all employees entering a worksite upon discovery that the worksite has been exposed to a person who is designated as a positive case of COVID-19. Health screening is intended to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and lower the risk of exposure for the worksite. 

  • Once health screening has been implemented at a worksite, every individual entering the worksite will undergo a health screening (except visitors). 
  • Individuals should practice social distancing and wear masks as they wait to be tested. 
  • Individuals will be asked questions about their well-being. Those exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, as well as those that have had close contact with someone who is a positive COVID-19 case, should be sent home and told to consult with their health care provider. (If an individual does not have a health care provider, they will be referred to their local health department or 1-877-PA-HEALTH. )(See CDC guidance for those who are ill.) 
  • An individual being sent home will be provided with the Referral to Medical Services Notice – Commonwealth Employee and a Return to Work Status Form, which must be completed by a health care provider. Employees must submit the completed Return to Work Status Form to the HR Service Center – FMLA Services Unit (Fax: 717-425-5389 or email: ra-spfabsence@pa.gov. (The Return to Work Status Form, once completed, documents the employee has been cleared to return to work.) The employee’s supervisor will advise them on the type of leave to be used. For more information about leave, refer to the COVID-19 Leave Information website or contact the HR Service Center – FMLA Services at 866-377-2672 or ra-spfabsence@pa.gov

Post-Worksite Exposure Cleaning and Disinfecting 

In order to ensure protection for employees at worksites, cleaning and disinfection must occur. Although transmission of COVID-19 occurs primarily through respiratory droplets, it is believed that transmission could occur through materials such as furniture, utensils, and soft surfaces. Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces after a suspected or confirmed positive exposure to COVID-19 shall occur in compliance with current CDC guidelines. If more than seven days have passed since the person with the suspected or confirmed COVID-19 visited or used the worksite, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary. 

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Responsibilities 

  • DGS or contracted cleaning staff shall be responsible for cleaning office areas, restrooms, and common areas. Soft surface cleaning may be limited depending on the contract specifications. 
  • Agency staff shall be responsible for cleaning desk surfaces, electronic equipment, and soft surfaces not cleaned by DGS or the contracted cleaning staff. 

Procedure for Cleaning and Disinfecting 

Refer to guidance from CDC on how to clean and disinfect. Disinfection shall occur using an EPA-registered disinfectant for COVID-19. 

Cleaning Staff Protection 

Cleaning staff shall: 

  • Wear disposable gloves and gowns for all tasks associated with the cleaning process, including trash removal. 
  • Wash their hands thoroughly immediately after all cleaning activities. 
  • Share the COVID-19 Sanitation and Chemical Exposure Safety information sheet with employees prior to all cleaning activities. 

Vehicle Cleaning 

Follow CDC guidelines for disinfecting work vehicles used to transport a positive case from the worksite. 

Sanitation and Chemical Exposure Safety 

It is important to remember that while cleaning and disinfecting surfaces to prevent the spread of COVID-19, employees should also be protecting themselves and others from exposure to the chemicals they are using. 

Chemical exposure can result in irritation to the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and respiratory system – especially if the exposure is prolonged or frequent. The CDC suggests the following safety tips for preventing chemical exposure while cleaning: 

  • Maintain a current safety data sheet (SDS) for each cleaning chemical used on site. All employees should be familiar with SDSs of products they are using which detail personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements and first aid measures for exposure. 
  • Employ the use of PPE to at least the level required by the SDS or more protection if required by your supervisor. 
  • Ensure areas being cleaned are well ventilated with a fan or open window, if possible. 
  • Keep cleaning products in their original, labeled containers. If transferring to a secondary container, the new container must be labeled with the common name of the chemical and appropriate hazard warnings. 
  • Do not mix cleaning products or any other chemicals unless specifically directed to by a supervisor. 
  • Only use cleaning products as directed. 
  • Avoid contacting your skin with cleaning chemicals. 
  • Dispose of gloves and wash hands thoroughly with soap and water when cleaning is complete and gloves have been removed. 
  • Do not spray cleaning chemicals on or near others while cleaning. 

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  • Be mindful when cleaning of others in the area, who may be sensitive to aspects of certain cleaning products, including smells. 
  • If a large area needs to be cleaned or harsh chemicals used, discuss cleaning options with your supervisor to determine best times to complete these tasks and whether other employees can be present. 
  • If an exposure occurs, contact your supervisor and call 911 for emergencies. If possible, get the SDS for the chemical that was being used at the time for transport to the emergency room or doctor to assist medical personnel with treatment options. 

Leave Policy 

On April 1, 2020, the Commonwealth issued HR Policy 2020-WS002, Emergency Paid Sick and Expanded Family and Medical Leave. This policy was issued to set forth Commonwealth- wide guidance on the use of leave pursuant to the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and the Emergency Family and Medical leave Extension Act (EFMLEA). 

More information about the application of this policy, as well as other information about administering leave during the COVID-19 pandemic, is available on the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Leave Information website. 

Employees should keep in mind that a YELLOW or GREEN status for a county does not automatically shift employees work status. Please contact your supervisor to confirm your specific work status. 

Travel Guidance 

See the CDC’s website for a full list of travel precautions

Traveling by Vehicle 

Employees should ride alone in vehicles where operationally feasible if travel is required for work. Employees who normally have multiple employees in the vehicle due to safety or work standards should follow their agency-specific protocols when traveling in vehicles. If the driver is alone throughout the trip, a mask is needed only when interacting with others, such as at a tollbooth or other drive through window. If more than one person is in the vehicle, all occupants should wear masks. An employee does not need to wear a mask if it impedes their vision, if they have a medical condition, or if it would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task. 

It is recommended that employees limit stops when traveling between their home and their worksite. 

Upon arrival at the worksite and prior to departing, employees should wash their hands as recommended. 

Traveling to Other Worksites 

DOH recommends that health screenings be conducted, particularly in those areas of the commonwealth with high positive case numbers. Health screenings of employees need only 

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occur at their primary worksite and additional screenings are not required for employees who subsequently travel to other worksites during their shift. 

Traveling on Mass Transit 

Transit riders should wear masks unless there is a medical reason that prevents them from wearing a mask, or unless they are unable to provide themselves with a mask or a suitable option (bandanna, scarf, etc.) because of economic reasons. Employees should not use buses if they suspect they are sick or if they have symptoms such as fever or difficulty breathing. 

Cleaning Work Vehicles 

Commonwealth employees who require the use of a rental car through our contracted provider, Enterprise, may review additional safety procedures in place on the Enterprise Car Rental website

DGS has developed comprehensive guidance for cleaning work vehicles

Frequently Asked Questions 

FAQs have been developed as an additional resource to help both supervisors and employees prepare for the reopening of Commonwealth worksites. The FAQs are located on the Office of Administration’s Returning to Work website

Resources 

Returning to Work Website 

The commonwealth has launched a website containing resources for employees. Please visit the Returning to Work website to explore the tools available to help you prepare for the reopening of your worksite. 

State Employee Assistance Program (SEAP) 

As we all work hard to continue serving Pennsylvanians during this challenging time, it is also important to focus on our own well-being. 

The State Employee Assistance Program (SEAP) is free and available to serve you, members of your family and anyone living in your household with a variety of services during this time and year-round. These services can help with everything from having trouble sleeping or stress to financial, legal, work or relationship concerns and more. 

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SEAP also offers you the option of Virtual Visits, where you can talk with and see a counselor from the privacy and comfort of your own home. Counselors are available 24/7. Call SEAP and learn more at 1-800-692-7459 (TTY 711). 

There are also a variety of mindfulness tools and resources available that can help you to better cope with stress and feelings of uncertainty. Visit www.liveandworkwell.com (Access Code: Pennsylvania) for more information. 

Also, our partner Optum Health has made a variety of tools available to help you and your family navigate through these difficult times. Visit Optum Health for facts and resources about COVID-19 and tips for keeping you educated, healthy and engaged. These resources include free access to the mental health app Sanvello, which offers a variety of resources for managing factors like anxiety and stress. 

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