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COVID-19 Update: DOH Order Requiring Worker Safety Interventions

access_time Posted on: April 16th, 2020

Compliance enforced April 19th

The Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, signed an order to protect critical workers employed at businesses authorized to continue in-person operations during Governor Wolf’s closure order. 

The order provides protections to keep employees at life-sustaining businesses safe and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The order requires employers to:

  • Provide masks for employees and mandate that they be worn at all times during work, except when taking a break to eat or drink. (Employees may wear their own masks if the employer finds them to be compliant with the Department of Health and CDC guidance.)
  • Prevent large gatherings of employees entering or exiting the building by staggering work start and stop times.
  • Encourage social distancing of 6 feet by providing adequate space and limiting the number of employees in common areas such as break rooms or cafeterias and setting up seating in those areas so that employees are facing one direction and not sitting across from each other.
  • Conduct training and meetings virtually. If that is not possible, the meeting must have no more than 10 people at one time and attendees must maintain 6 feet of social distance.
  • Ensure that there are enough employees to follow and maintain these protocols and that all employees fully understand the procedures.
  • Prohibit unnecessary visitors.

If an employee is suspected or known to have been exposed to COVID-19, the business must:

  • Temperature screen employees before they enter the building and 
  • Send home anyone with a temperature equal or greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Employees sent home should follow CDC guidance for home isolation. Employers are encouraged to provide paid time off to home-bound employees.

Once a business has COVID-19 exposure, the employer must:

  • Identify and notify employees who had contact within 6 feet or for at least 10 minutes with someone who tested positive for COVID-19
  • Close off and ventilate areas of the building that were visited by that individual. Wait at least 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting all areas and shared equipment.
  • Ensure that there are enough employees to quickly carry out these protocols. 

Businesses that serve the public within their building must:

  • Require all customers to wear a mask on the premises or provide customers with an alternative method for the pick-up or delivery of goods and services. (Note: Someone who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons does not need to provide documentation.)
  • Mandate social distancing of 6 feet using signage for employees and customers.
  • Conduct business by appointment only and if that is not possible limit occupancy in the facility to 50 percent of the number permitted on the certificate of occupancy.
  • Alter business hours so that there is sufficient time to clean and restock. 
  • Encourage online ordering by providing outside pick-up or delivery.
  • Install barriers or shields to keep check-out areas physically separate from the public.
  • Set up procedures in businesses with multiple check-out lines to use every other register so that cleaning measures can be implemented. Each hour, alternate the registers so that recently used registers can be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
  • Schedule breaks for employees to wash their hands at least every hour.
  • Assign an employee to clean and wipe down shopping baskets and carts between customers.

Businesses that fail to comply with these requirements may be fined, issued a citation, or have their licenses suspended. Compliance will be enforced beginning Sunday, April 19that 8 PM.

Governor Wolf has directed the following local officials and state agencies to enforce this order:

  • Pennsylvania State Police
  • Local officials within their jurisdictions
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Labor and Industry
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board
View Department of Health Worker Safety Order

Note: This order will not absolve employers from other pre-existing health and safety requirements. 


Please contact a CGA Business or Labor and Employment Law attorney for further information or to analyze any specific inquiries you may have.


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