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Q&A for COVID Safety Ordinance

May 19, 2020 | Bureau of Engineering & Construction Services Department of Public Works

Ordinance Section 3c. – Requirement for all employees to travel alone.

Some employees have family members that that work together and currently live together. Can there be an exception for this? A number of our employees pick up other employees that neither have a car nor a license. Can accommodations be made requiring two parties in a vehicle to be masked, a potential plexiglass divider between and a written policy on vehicle sanitation?
People who live together are permitted to travel together. As it relates to traveling with coworkers, extraordinary measures should be taken: the area of the car must be wiped down before and after entrance into the vehicle, masks worn at all times, passenger should be in the back seat diagonally across from driver. The maximum occupancy in a vehicle would be 2 in this instance, and does not provide a provision for single cab vehicles to be used in this manner. A company allowing this type of travel together should issue guidance on cleaning of vehicles per CDC or Dept of Health guidelines. The company should have put protocols in place for daily disinfectant cleanings of company vehicles if there is more than one person using or traveling in an assigned vehicle at any time. For example, disinfectant wipes or similar materials should be available for all drivers to sanitize their vehicles at the beginning/end of the work day if any other individual used or entered their vehicles.

Can employees take mass transit to the site?
No, the City does not encourage mass transit in lieu of traveling alone.

Ordinance Section 3d.iii. – Requirement for all workers to wear Face masks.

As it relates to face masks, the state allows for an exemption for employees that have a medical condition preventing them from wearing a face mask. The State has not defined medical conditions. How is this to be handled to ensure we are not in violation of existing regulations such as HIPAA and ADA?
The employer should receive physician verification that the employee needs to be exempted from a safety rule, work task, or protocol, just as they would for other any other requested exemption. This verification will need to be done in compliance with HIPAA and other relevant laws related to medical privacy and we would suggest their HR professional be engaged in handling this. In such a case, however, since the purpose of a mask is to protect other people from the employee, the employee should be considered for alternate duty or jobsite locations where social distancing is more possible and therefore no mask may potentially be necessary depending on the tasks assigned. In other words, employers should look at providing a “reasonable accommodation” to comply with ADA. The employer should look to provide other potential reasonable PPE accommodations that would reduce the risk to the employee and others, such as face shields that cover the face but do not restrict breathing, PAPR respirators, etc. if proper social distancing cannot be achieved. Other suggestions include varying and staggering work hours to reduce the number of employees on the site at any given time, which will increase social distancing and reduce exposure risk to that employee and others around them. Ultimately, it is up to the employer to enforce mask wearing to the extent possible and ensure those not wearing masks have a legitimate medical reason not to wear one.

Ordinance Section 3d.vii. – Requirement to provide Clean potable water.

Many companies have removed central potable water stations so as to prevent congregating of people, and potential touch points by multiple people. In lieu of central water stations they are providing bottled water. Will this meet the intent of the ordinance?
Yes, this will meet the intent of the ordinance. Potable water also includes running tap water provided by the water utility (if the building plumbing is substantially completed, for example).

Ordinance Section 3i. – Requirement to Identify of a Pandemic Safety Officer

Does the identified Pandemic Safety Officer have to be on the job site at all times while workers are present?
Somebody onsite must be identified as a PSO (generally superintendents or labor foremen). The company may have an overall PSO, such as the Safety Director, however, someone onsite must be granted the authority to make immediate decisions or implement/modify measures to protect the health and safety of all workers on the jobsite. They should be educated on current federal, state, and local guidance at all times and be tasked with ensuring the site is complying with the latest guidance. They should be making sure all PPE is stocked, areas are cleaned, and employees are complying with current guidance and requirements.