CDC Issues Guidance for Reopening Office Buildings

Nancy Cleeland By Nancy Cleeland May 31, 2020

​The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidance for companies to prepare office buildings for returning employees and protect them from exposure to COVID-19.

The guidance includes familiar recommendations such as social distancing and enhanced cleaning, but also puts more emphasis on improving ventilation in the building by opening windows when possible or increasing the percentage of outdoor air used in HVAC systems. Employers should also consider running the ventilation system even when the building is unoccupied and adding portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration systems to enhance air cleaning.

The guidance, issued May 27, reminds employers that under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, they are responsible for providing a safe workplace and recommends conducting a complete hazard assessment to identify potential points of transmission.

Employers should do all they can to keep employees at least six feet apart, using physical barriers or signs and tape marks as reminders, and staggering shifts, start times and break times. Cloth face coverings are recommended for all employees except those who have trouble breathing, especially in localities where the virus is prevalent. The CDC noted that such face coverings are not considered personal protective equipment and so they would not be subject to OSHA requirements for training.

A ban on hugs, handshakes and fist bumps and the elimination of coffee pots and other shared items were also recommended. And the CDC said employers should offer commuters parking subsidies or other incentives to encourage use of personal vehicles instead of public transit.

The CDC continues to add guidance for employers and the general public to its website on an almost daily basis. Also on May 27, the agency issued new recommendations for public pools, funeral guidance, and information on returning from international travel



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