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Managing through COVID-19: Workplace guidance for businesses and employees

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Chubb HealthBeat

Chubb’s Claims department includes a team of dedicated registered nurse professionals with extensive experience helping businesses address health and safety issues. Our nursing team also supports employees as they recover from injury and illness—and return to work. In the spirit of promoting safe and healthy workplaces, our medical specialists developed this edition of Chubb HealthBeat to help your business and employees better understand and address the ongoing challenges of operating your business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While many regions worldwide have made substantial progress in fighting COVID-19, the virus continues to spread and there is still significant work to be done in containing it. As new and highly contagious variants such as Delta and Omicron continue to emerge, there are ongoing challenges for businesses that have already reopened successfully or are in the process of trying to do so. 

In a world where COVID-19 precautions will continue to be necessary for the foreseeable future, businesses can help their employees and other stakeholders by sharing credible, scientific information, supporting safe practices, and acknowledging the ongoing challenges of the pandemic.

Here are five steps you can take to help manage your business and keep your workforce safe through the ongoing challenges of the pandemic.

 

  1. Stay informed

    Because COVID-19 data and guidance are being continually updated as the pandemic progresses and scientific knowledge increases, you should check credible resources frequently and communicate key information with your employees.

    Trustworthy sources of science-based information about COVID-19 include state public health agencies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Here are some key resources you can bookmark:


    The following nationally respected healthcare organizations and medical schools are credible, non-governmental sources of information that can also be shared with employees:


    More resources from Chubb: Safeguarding Your Business and Employees During COVID-19

  2. Encourage vaccination

    The strongest tool for fighting the spread of COVID-19 is vaccination. A fully vaccinated workforce creates the safest possible environment for employees and customers. There are three vaccines currently approved in the U.S. developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. All three vaccines are proven to reduce infection, hospitalization, and mortality.

    OSHA emphasizes
     that vaccination is the most effective way to protect against severe illness and death from COVID-19. OSHA encourages employers to provide paid time off to workers to get vaccinated. Employers may also want to consider providing paid time off to employees who are taking children to get vaccinated.

    With this in mind, many businesses are requiring all employees—except those with medical or religious exemptions—to get vaccinated. Here is some additional vaccine related information to be aware of:
     

    • People who have already had COVID-19 should still be vaccinated. According to the CDC, evidence is emerging that full vaccination provides better protection compared with having COVID-19 against contracting the illness a second time.
    • Federal, state, and local rules may require vaccination or testing. Stay informed of vaccination and testing requirements that your business or organization may have to follow. Make sure your locations are prepared to comply with rules and develop a fair, non-discriminatory system for reviewing exemption requests.

     

    Learn more: Health Action Alliance Quick Start Guide for Preparing Your Workforce for Vaccine Requirements

    • Booster shots recommendations. The CDC recommends that adults 18 and over receive a booster shot to ensure continued protection.
    • Vaccination is not a guarantee of immunity. Vaccination does not provide total sterilizing immunity against COVID-19. Vaccinated people can still be infected by COVID-19—known as “breakthrough” cases—though the illness is usually less severe. For increased safety, vaccinated and unvaccinated employees alike should continue to follow safety practices.

     

    More from Chubb on vaccination: COVID-19 Vaccination—Considerations for Your Workforce

  1. Maintain safety practices at the workplace

    Ensuring a safe and sanitary work environment is key to controlling the continued spread of the virus.

    Vaccinated and unvaccinated employees alike should continue to follow local mask mandates and recommendations.  The CDC recommends that masks be worn in indoor public places in regions with substantial or high rates of transmission. Employers can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and support their workforce by making high-quality masks easily available in the workplace.

    You can take additional steps to protect employees and customers by continuing to:

    • Implement social distancing rules that keep people at least six feet apart
    • Maintain and operate adequate ventilation systems
    • Instruct unvaccinated employees who have had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, and all employees with COVID-19 symptoms, to stay home from work
    • Frequently clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces
    • Encourage employees to frequently and thoroughly wash their hands—and use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
    • Proceed with caution when it comes to business travel and public events such as conferences.
  2. Accommodate workers with long-term COVID effects

    Most people who contract symptomatic COVID-19 recover from the illness after experiencing mild to moderate respiratory symptoms. But a small segment of COVID-19 patients experience a range of long-term effects, including fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, joint pain, and a long-term brain disorder known as Post COVID-19 Neurological Syndrome (PCNS), the symptoms of which can include anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating (sometimes called “brain fog”), headache, sleep disorders, and more.

    Post-COVID conditions, also known as long or long-haul COVID, can be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Businesses can take steps to accommodate employees who suffer long-haul symptoms by updating leave and disability policies, modifying job duties, and offering flexible schedules.

  3. Support employee mental health

    The pandemic has had far-reaching psychological impacts on workers—ones that will continue for the foreseeable future. Fear, uncertainty, and isolation can undermine the mental health, productivity, and morale of both onsite and remote workers. The psychological impact of COVID has in part fueled a period of high workplace turnover known as the “Great Resignation.”

    Employers can support their employees’ mental well-being in a number of ways:
     

    • Communicate with Kindness. A kind word can make a big difference. Communicate frequently with employees to check in, acknowledge the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, and encourage them to access available resources.
    • Provide and Highlight Mental Health Services. Consider adding mental health services and resources to your benefits if you don’t already offer them. These resources might include counseling, stress management programs, health coaching, and more.
    • Offer Flexibility. Because of COVID-19, many employees may be facing special challenges both at work and home. Employers may be able to alleviate stress by offering flexible hours, reduced workloads, and the option to work from home or at the office.

     

    The future of COVID-19 remains uncertain, but businesses can now operate with some degree of confidence if they take adequate precautions, stay informed, and comply with regulatory requirements. While COVID-19 may endure for some time, the combination of vaccination, new antiviral treatments, and natural immunity may help contain this illness and further limit its impact on our economy, businesses, and way of life.
     

This document is advisory in nature and is offered as a resource to be used together with your professional insurance advisors in maintaining a loss prevention program. It is an overview only, and is not intended as a substitute for consultation with your insurance broker, or for legal, engineering or other professional advice.

Chubb is the marketing name used to refer to subsidiaries of Chubb Limited providing insurance and related services. For a list of these subsidiaries, please visit our website at www.chubb.com. Insurance provided by ACE American Insurance Company and its U.S. based Chubb underwriting company affiliates. All products may not be available in all states. This communication contains product summaries only. Coverage is subject to the language of the policies as actually issued. Surplus lines insurance sold only through licensed surplus lines producers. Chubb, 202 Hall's Mill Road, Whitehouse Station, NJ 08889-1600.

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