NSC Statement on CDC Guidelines for Returning Office Employees to Work

Safe reopening should prioritize employee testing and contact tracing.

May 29, 2020

Itasca, IL – The National Safety Council applauds the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for releasing comprehensive guidelines for returning office employees to work. COVID-19 has been a uniquely safety-driven crisis, and safety must be at the core of all business decisions as employers contemplate returning employees back to office environments. Business owners should reopen when they’re ready – not necessarily because they can.

The CDC guidelines instruct employers to identify where and how workers might be exposed to COVID-19 at work and to isolate them from potential hazards, among other directives. A key to a safe reopening includes employers prioritizing employee testing and contact tracing to avoid a resurgence of COVID-19 infections and another shutdown. Addressing mental health will also be integral to employee wellbeing as the country starts to reopen.

To ensure safety at the highest level:

  • Employers must be able to test employees, as well as others who spend time in the office, for COVID-19
  • Thorough tracing must be conducted to help contain the virus – workplaces may inadvertently provide places for virus transmission, and contact tracing among co-workers is key to preventing further spread
  • Office return-to-work strategies must include assistance and support for employees to address mental health as COVID-19 will impact many in both clear and unseen ways, now and in the future

The goal of an office reopening should not be to occupy a building, it should be about keeping employees safe. NSC encourages all employers to review playbooks and other resources it has developed through its SAFER initiative, an effort to help business owners understand how to prioritize safety as they prepare to return employees to work. These free materials have been developed thanks to insight from the country’s leading safety and health professionals, companies, public health organizations, legal professionals, nonprofits and government entities. More information is available at nsc.org/safer.

About the National Safety Council
The National Safety Council is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact.

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