VOSHA issues new requirements for reopening businesses in Vermont.
Vermont’s Occupational and Safety Health Administration (VOSHA) and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development have issued the following requirements for businesses to reopen:
- Employees are prohibited from reporting to work, or remaining at work if they are sick or symptomatic.
- An employee who is not symptomatic, but has had contact with any person diagnosed with Covid-19 must be quarantined for 14 days and therefore, cannot report to work during this time.
- Signs must be posted at all entrances of the work site which indicate no one can enter the building or site if he or she has any symptoms of a respiratory illness.
- To the extent feasible, prior to the start of each work shift, employers must prescreen or survey each employee to verify that the employee has no symptom of a respiratory illness, such as a fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath. This prescreen requires the inclusion of temperature checks. VOSHA has adopted the CDC’s definition of a temperature as anything over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius. However, VOSHA recognized that non-contact thermometers are currently in high demand and short supply and therefore employers may open and meet this VOSHA requirement if it immediately orders and uses its best efforts to obtain a non-contact thermometer.
- All employees must observe the 6 feet social distancing rule while working and should refrain from touching their faces.
- No congregation of employees is allowed. Access to common rooms, like the lunch or break room, should be closed or controlled.
- If the nature of the work or work area doesn’t permit employees to safely consume meals in the work space, the employer may designate a common area or room where meals can be consumed, if: (a) at the entrance of the designated common area or room, the employer clearly posts the policy which states the maximum occupancy of the space required to keep the minimum social distancing of at least 6 feet of separation and hand washing/hand sanitizing and space cleaning requirements, (b) employees are required to wipe down their area prior to leaving the designated area, or the employer provides regular cleaning throughout the day, and (c) handwashing facilities and/or hand sanitizer shall be immediately available at the entrance of the designated area.
- When working inside, as much as possible, employers must open doors and windows to promote air flow. Employers should limit the number of people occupying a single space.
- No more than 2 people shall occupy one vehicle and while riding in the vehicle and employees must wear face coverings when riding together.
- Employees are required to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when in the presence of others. In the retail setting, cashiers may use a translucent shield or “sneeze guard” instead of a mask.
- All common spaces and equipment, including bathrooms, and frequently touched surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected at the beginning, middle, and end of each shift and when possible, prior to the transfer from one employee to another.
- Employees must have easy and frequent access to soap and water or hand sanitizer during work, and employees must wash their hands or use hand sanitizer frequently, including before entering and leaving job sites.
- Businesses should ask customers to wear face coverings any time they are interacting with others not in their household.
- All businesses shall designate a health officer on-site for every shift. This person is responsible for ensuring compliance with all regulations and guidance. This officer shall have the authority to stop or modify activities to ensure the work conforms with the mandatory health and safety requirements.
- All businesses, non-profit, and government operations must use remote work whenever possible.
- All employees must complete a training on mandatory health and safety requirements by May 4, 2020. For more information, visit New Training Requirements for Vermont Employees.
On May 19, 2020, Vermont’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development announced an additional requirement for businesses that have been closed for 7 or more days during Vermont’s state of emergency. These businesses must complete and keep on file a reopening and training plan, which at a minimum must:
- Adopt a phased approach to reopening that provides sufficient opportunity to operate first in a low density and low contact environment before making incremental changes to accommodate more moderate density while maintaining health and safety.
- Update physical and administrative safety systems to accommodate COVID-19 Vermont Department of Health/CDC/VOSHA guidelines, health monitoring, including temperature checks, cleaning, sanitizing methods, and physical distancing measures.
- Take appropriate measures to protect those employees at greater risk of contact due to their position or setting.
VOSHA and ACCD have provided a template for this plan which can be found here.
Importantly, this additional requirement does not apply to businesses with fewer than 10 employees at one physical location. Such businesses must still follow all other guidance and their employees must still complete the required training.
A full copy of the May 6, 2020, Update from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development can be found here.