On May 1, 2020, Governor Sununu issued Emergency Order #40 to facilitate and guide the reopening of the State in phases. Referred to as Stay At Home 2.0, Emergency Order #40 sets forth mandatory requirements for those businesses that were considered essential and their facilities have remained open and those that are scheduled to reopen all or a portion of their operations in the coming weeks.
Many manufacturing companies were deemed providers of Essential Services and have remained open since the Governor first issued a stay at home emergency order. These companies have had in place COVID-19 related protocols, procedures, and policies for employees to follow in the workplace for well over a month. Emergency Order #40 makes clear that these companies need to review their current practices and determine if they comply with the newly issued Universal Business Guidelines, effective immediately. Those manufacturing companies that may be reopening portions of their business operations will need to comply with the Universal Business Guidelines at the time of reopening. My colleague has written about the Universal Business Guidelines here, including some guidance on the screening of employees reporting for work.
Manufacturers currently operating or reopening must also comply with the state-issued industry specific guidelines. This specific guidance comes as the media reports outbreaks in manufacturing plants in other states. Stay at Home 2.0 Manufacturing COVID-19 Reopening Guidance sets forth 15 employee protection recommendations that companies must follow for the protection of employees and consumers.
- Review and follow the Universal Business Guidelines for New Hampshire companies.
- Review and follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.
- Review and follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance.
- While Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is likely minimal in the manufacturing workplace, employers should assess areas of risk and determine any appropriate PPE under CDC guidance.
- Employees should wear cloth face coverings over nose and mouth when social distancing (at least 6 feet) may be difficult.
- Encourage frequent hand hygiene and provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer and hand washing stations.
- Adjust processes to maintain social distancing (6 feet between employees).
- Stagger shifts, breaks, meals to maintain social distancing (6 feet between employees).
- Provide regular updates, education, and training for employees about protections from COVID-19.
- Require reporting of any employee illness and COVID-19 positive cases in employee’s household to supervisor.
- Implement flexible sick leave policies to allow employees to stay at home when sick or to care for a sick family member.
- Prohibit congregating in break rooms or common areas to allow safe social distancing (6 feet at all times).
- Restrict interaction between employees and outside visitors, including implementing touchless receiving practices if possible.
- Erect impermeable barriers to limit contact with others, whenever possible.
- Require sanitization of equipment and/or workspace areas at beginning, middle and end of shifts, particularly in “high touch” areas, as feasible.
As listed above, the Manufacturing Guidance requires strict adherence to CDC and OSHA guidance. Businesses must also comply with guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Employers should also follow all wage and hour laws and regulations and other employment laws that relate to the workplace.
As noted in the Governor’s press release, this “universal guidance will serve as the bare minimum standards which businesses must meet to maintain or begin operations” and the manufacturing industry will require “specific operational procedures” be put into place based on industry specific guidance as various sectors of the State get back to work. Companies may require additional procedures and practices that are consistent with the above and the Division of Public Health. Employers should review their policies, practices and procedures and make any adjustments or updates as needed to incorporate these mandatory recommendations for the manufacturing industry.