Washington L&I issues COVID-19 prevention guidelines for grocery store employers
Tumwater, WA — A new guidance document from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries is intended to help grocery store employers protect workers from contracting – and potentially spreading – COVID-19.
Issued April 3, less than two weeks after Gov. Jay Inslee (D) issued a statewide stay-at-home order, the document details effective physical distancing and handwashing plans, as well as ways to ensure workers don’t go to work sick.
Physical distancing strategies should include:
- Limiting the numbers of customers inside the store.
- Requiring workers to stay at least 6 feet away from co-workers and customers.
- Using temporary 6-foot floor markings.
- Informing customers of physical-distancing recommendations using large-print signs or electronic boards.
- Designating workers to monitor and facilitate distancing in checkout lines.
- Discontinuing free-sample stands, product demonstrations or self-serve foods.
To promote effective handwashing protocol among employees:
- Install hand-sanitizer stations near entrances and key locations.
- Make sure workers know how to wash their hands correctly and why it’s important to do so for at least 20 seconds.
- Require frequent handwashing, especially when arriving at work and after eating, taking breaks, using tobacco products or handling money.
- Ensure gloves are worn when retrieving carts, handling money, cleaning, using the same cash register or keypad as co-workers, or maintaining food safety.
- Set up a schedule to ensure regular stocking of handwashing supplies and trash removal.
Employers should familiarize themselves with COVID-19 symptoms (fever, coughing and shortness of breath), monitor workers for signs of illness and require sick workers to stay home.
The document includes more than a dozen coronavirus transmission prevention strategies in regard to workplace hazard education, checkout stands and counters, stocking, and surface cleaning.
Washington L&I reminds employers that taking any adverse action against workers, such as threatening or firing them for exercising their safety and health rights or raising concerns, is against the law.
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