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Pennsylvania order will require uptick in safety protocols


Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order on Wednesday defining the safety protections that will be required for critical workers authorized to maintain in-person operations during the pandemic.

The order requires employers to provide masks for employees to wear at work and make it a mandatory requirement, with the exception of break times when an employee intends to eat or drink, stagger work start and end times to reduce large groups of employees entering or leaving the premises at the same time, and provide sufficient space for employees to have breaks and meals while maintaining a social distance of at least six feet.

Employers must also conduct meetings and training virtually to the extent that they can, and if they must hold them in person, these gatherings are capped at 10 people and social distance must be maintained, according to the order.

Workplaces also must prohibit all nonessential visitors from entering the premises and notify all non-English speaking workers in their native language of these procedures, either orally or in writing, the order states.

The new mandate, which was developed with input from the state’s Department of Health, also sets out procedures for dealing with COVID exposure.

If an employer discovers a person who likely has or has tested positive for COVID-19, the company must implement temperature screenings for all employees, sending home any worker with a temperature that exceeds 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the order, and workers who are sick must follow home isolation criteria as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

After an exposure, these businesses must also close off and ventilate areas visited by that individual and wait 24 hours, if practical, to begin cleaning and disinfecting that space as well as all other spaces, particularly commonly used areas and shared electronic equipment. Employers must also identify and notify employees who were in close contact with the individual, according to the order.

Finally, the order requires all customers to wear masks on the premises, conduct business with the public by appointment if feasible, and limit occupancy to no greater than 50% of the maximum on the certificate of occupancy. Companies must also place signage about mandatory social distancing, take steps to reduce crowding in the business and at checkout and counter lines, and install shields or other barriers to physically separate cashiers and customers.

Customer-facing businesses must also reduce hours to allow sufficient time for cleaning, designate a specific time for high-risk and elderly persons to use the business at least once per week, clean registers and surrounding areas after each staff rotation, schedule handwashing breaks for employees at least once an hour and assign an employee to wipe down all carts and handbaskets between uses, according to the order.

The state will begin enforcing the order April 19 at 8 a.m. and noncompliance may result in citations, fines or license suspensions, according to the governor’s office.

More insurance and risk management news on the coronavirus crisis here.




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