Monday, April 27, 2020

Pritzker’s Executive Order Directs Employers to Protect Workers

Late last week, Gov. Pritzker announced an extension of the stay at home order but loosened restrictions on some businesses. In exchange for relaxing some current restrictions, Pritzker ordered employers to provide greater protections for their workers by ensuring social distancing and providing protective equipment.

For the first time, the Governor included some specific direction for employers of essential businesses and businesses engaged in minimum operations as follows:

Essential Businesses and Operations and businesses engaged in Minimum Basic Operations must take proactive measures to ensure compliance with Social Distancing Requirements, including where possible:
  • Designate six-foot distances. Designating with signage, tape, or by other means six-foot spacing for employees and customers in line to maintain appropriate distance; 
  • Hand sanitizer and sanitizing products. Having hand sanitizer and sanitizing products readily available for employees and customers;
  • Separate operating hours for vulnerable populations. Implementing separate operating hours for elderly and vulnerable customers; and
  • Online and remote access. Posting online whether a facility is open and how best to reach the facility and continue services by phone or remotely.
  • Face Coverings and PPE. Providing employees with appropriate face coverings and requiring that employees wear face coverings where maintaining a six-foot social distance is not possible at all times. When the work circumstances require, providing employees with other PPE in addition to face coverings.
Employers should closely evaluate how their employees work, especially with regard to their proximity to each other and the public. Take a lesson from stores like Costco and others that have marked six-foot distances on floors at cashiers, payment and/or service windows, and the like.

Be prepared to provide masks to those employees who, because of their duties, cannot socially distance from one another or the public. This includes employees who work in crews, such as public works employees. If masks are unavailable for purchase, offer to reimburse employees for providing their own masks. Make sure that your employees wear the masks correctly; covering the nose down over the chin.

While still also in short supply, provide plenty of hand sanitizer, soap, and water. Keep up regular frequent cleaning of work surfaces, especially those used by the public.

Finally, take heed of Pritzker’s order to offer separate hours of operation to members of the public who are elderly or vulnerable. While this is difficult to monitor or enforce, it is wise to publish special hours for seniors and others in need of extra protection from exposure on websites and other social media as well as in your facilities, pursuant to Governor Pritzker’s order of April 23, 2020.