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Factors that increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission include:
  • Enclosed spaces with inadequate ventilation or air handling that allow for build-up of exhaled respiratory fluids, especially very fine droplets and aerosol particles in the air.
  • Increased exhalation of respiratory fluids that can occur when an infectious person is engaged in physical exertion or raises their voice (e.g., exercising, shouting, singing).
  • Prolonged exposure to these conditions.
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Introduction

Public Health uses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Community Level Matrix and the LA County Weekly Community Transmission Rates to help assess how much COVID-19 is impacting our community. We also use this information to help to decide which prevention actions to require or recommend for individuals as well as businesses and workplaces. For more detailed information, see the County COVID-19 Response Plan.

Below is a summary of best practices for businesses, employers, and organizations to enhance safety for their employees*, customers, and communities.

*Some independent contractors are considered to be employees under the State Labor Code. For more details, check the California Department of Industrial Relations’ Independent Contractor Versus Employee webpage.

Vaccination
Checklist
  • Encourage employees to get vaccinated against both influenza (flu) and COVID-19 and to stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. Both vaccines are the best way to keep your workers safe and to reduce flu and COVID-19 outbreaks in the workplace and in the community.
    • The influenza (flu) vaccine is recommended for everyone six months and older, including healthy children and healthy adults. It’s not too late. Getting vaccinated against flu can:
      • reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death and
      • prevent flu in people who are at increased risk for serious flu illness such as older adults, young children, pregnant women, people with long-lasting health conditions, or a weakened immune system.

      Flu vaccinations don’t give a person the flu, and side effects are rare. If people protect themself from flu, they also help protect their family, friends and community. Flu vaccinations are available for low-cost or free. Visit a doctor or pharmacy, call 2-1-1 or go to PreventFluLA.com.
    • Get the updated (bivalent) booster. One updated booster is recommended for everyone six months and older when eligible. The updated (bivalent) COVID-19 booster has been updated to target both the original strain of the COVID-19 virus as well as the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. Remind employees they should get their updated booster at least 2 months after their last COVID-19 vaccine dose (either the final primary series dose or the last original [monovalent] booster). This is regardless of how many boosters or which type of vaccine they got in the past. For more information, visit ph.lacounty.gov/covidvaccineschedules.

      COVID-19 vaccines including the updated booster are free and widely available across LA County. Encourage employees to visit ph.lacounty.gov/howtogetvaccinated to find a convenient location near work or home. They can call 1-833-540-0473 if they need help making an appointment, need transportation to a vaccination site, or are homebound. Phone lines are open from 8am to 8:30pm, 7 days a week. Information is also available in many languages 24/7 by calling 2-1-1.
  • Make it easier for your workers to get vaccinated and boosted.
    • Host a vaccination event for your organization. Search for a vaccine provider here.
    • Provide paid time off to get vaccine doses and to recover from any post-vaccination side-effects.
    • Consider offering rewards such as additional paid time off or cash bonus payments and/or implementing policies that require employees to be vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19. For more information about legal issues related to implementing vaccine requirements in your workplace, visit these sites from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Masks
Wear a mask
  • Follow face mask rules
    • Employees who had COVID-19 and are returning to work after completing isolation must wear a highly protective mask around others for a total of 10 full days after their first positive test.
    • Employees who have been in close contact with a person with COVID-19 must wear a highly protective mask around others for a total of 10 days after their last close contact.
    • If there has been a recent outbreak at your workplace, Public Health may require masks to be worn.
    • Higher risk settings may have more protective masking requirements. For instance, in healthcare settings and congregate care facilities (including long-term care and adult and senior care facilities), masks are required indoors for everyone per state and local orders. Employers at high-risk settings should refer to sector specific regulations.
    • Employers and employees are subject to either the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 ETS or the Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Disease Standard and should consult those regulations for additional applicable requirements.
    • Other indoor public settings and businesses: masks are strongly recommended. However, businesses, employers, transit providers, venues may elect to continue to require indoor masking for everyone.

      See summary of County Mask Wearing Rules and Recommendations and the Health Office Order.
N95
  • Offer and provide masks and respirators to employees
    • Employers are required by the County Health Office Order to offer well-fitting medical masks and respirators (e.g., N95, KN95, KF94) at no cost to their employees who work indoors and have contact with other workers, customers, or members of the public. This requirement is regardless of the CDC COVID-19 Community level.
    • Per Cal-OSHA, upon request, employers must provide all employees who work indoors or in vehicles with more than one person with the correct-size N95 respirator for voluntary use along with basic instructions on how to use the N95 respirator.
    • See flyer about information about free and low-cost PPE for employers.
  • Allow employees and residents/customers/visitors to wear masks even if they are not required. When people, including employees, are not required to wear a mask, they may choose to wear one.
    • Per the County Health Office Order, no person can be prevented from wearing a mask as a condition of participating in an activity or entering a business or venue.
    • Employers cannot discourage or retaliate against employees for wearing a face mask.
  • Educate your employees about masks including respirators
    • While all masks provide some level of protection, well-fitting respirators, especially N95s, provide the best protection. Provide your employees with education and resources about masks. See LAC DPH mask webpage publichealth.lacounty.gov/masks (Spanish: ph.lacounty.gov/mascarillas) and the Know which Masks Provide the Best Protection summary sheet for workers. This information is available in multiple languages on the mask webpage.
    • Cal-OSHA requires employers to provide basic instructions on how to use N95 respirators, if an N95 respirator was requested by the employee.
    • Respirators must be replaced if they get damaged, deformed, wet, dirty, difficult to breathe through, or if they no longer fit well. Employees who use respirators, should check the manufacturer’s instructions to learn how long they can be worn before they should be thrown away.
    • Medical masks should be thrown away after they are worn once.

Limit exposure to sick and exposed persons
Home sick
  • Reinforce paid leave policies.
    • Review your workplace leave policies and modify them if necessary to ensure that employees are not penalized when they stay home due to illness.
    • Make sure that your employees are aware that they may be eligible for benefits such as paid sick leave or workers’ compensation if they, or a family member whom they care for, attends a vaccine or booster appointment, is sick with COVID-19, or needs to recover from vaccine-related symptoms.
  • Actively encourage and support employees to stay home when sick.
    • Make sure employees know that they must not come to work if sick. Inform workers about the availability of Paid Sick Leave and how to access this benefit.
    • Continue to educate employees about the symptoms of COVID-19 and what to do if they are sick, including the importance of not coming to work and getting tested for COVID-19.
    • Inform all employees on how they can obtain COVID-19 testing.
    • Develop and implement a process for screening employees for COVID-19 symptoms. Options include having employees evaluate their own symptoms before coming to work, using signage at the entrance of the workplace, or completing daily on-site screening. See Entry Screening.
  • Exclude infected and exposed employees from the workplace unless they have satisfied all return-to-work requirements.
  • Manage COVID-19 exposures in the workplace when it is known that an employee with COVID-19 was at work during their infectious period.
  • Ask customers/guests to defer visits when ill or infected. Consider using clearly visible signage at the entrance to your business that visitors must not enter the premises if sick or COVID-19 positive.

Ventilation
Venting Air
  • Increase ventilation to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. SARS-CoV-2 viral particles spread between people more readily indoors than outdoors. Effective ventilation is one of the most important ways to reduce the transmission of the COVID-19 virus through the air.
    • Make sure your building’s HVAC system is in good, working order. Contact your HVAC professional. Ask them about:
      • Whether installing MERV 13 air filters is feasible;
      • How to set the HVAC system to 100% outside, non-recycled air, especially during special events or areas with more crowding; and
      • The number of Air Changes per Hour (ACH) in areas of your business. 2-6 ACH is recommended.
    • Other ways to improve ventilation:
      • Consider installing portable high-efficiency air cleaners in rooms with less ventilation or more crowding.
      • When weather and working conditions allow, and if it is safe to do so, increase fresh outdoor air by opening windows and doors. Use caution in highly polluted areas when increasing outdoor air ventilation.
      • Consider using fans to increase the effectiveness of open windows - position window fans on one side of the room and direct them to blow air outward, not inward.
    • Decrease occupancy in indoor areas where ventilation cannot be increased. Consider use of carbon dioxide monitors to monitor the effectiveness of your ventilation in more densely occupied indoor spaces.
    • For indoor events with performers that will generate aerosols (such as singers or musicians playing wind or brass instruments) take the following steps:
      • Assess the direction of the air flow in the room to determine where the air is exiting the room. In buildings with HVAC systems, this will be the air-return vents; if doors or windows are open, check the direction that the air is flowing.
      • During performances (including rehearsals), position aerosol-generating performers closer to the locations where the air is exiting the room.
    • Refer to Cal-OSHA COVID-19 ETS FAQs-Ventilation for additional instructions. See State Interim Guidance for Ventilation, Filtration, and Air Quality in Indoor Environments and COVID-19 & Indoor Air Quality Tips in English and Spanish.

Hand Hygiene
Home sick
  • Provide adequate handwashing facilities for employees and, where appropriate, the public. Provide employees with an effective hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol. Provision or use of hand sanitizers with methyl alcohol is prohibited by Cal-OSHA.
  • Educate employees about the importance of frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Hand sanitizer should be used if there is no immediate access to a sink or hand washing facilities. Note that hand sanitizers may not be as effective at removing germs when hands are visibly greasy or dirty
  • Ensure employees have adequate time to wash their hands during work time. Encourage them to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds each time. See the CDC guidance, When and How to Wash Your Hands.
  • Posters in multiple languages that remind people to wash or sanitize their hands and show how to wash their hands are available in the signage section.

Cleaning
Cleaning
  • Regularly cleaning surfaces in your worksite helps prevent the spread of germs that make people sick.
  • Employers should regularly clean frequently touched surfaces and objects such as pens, counters, shopping carts, door handles, stair rails, elevator buttons, touchpads, restroom fixtures, and desks. They should also clean other surfaces when they are visibly dirty.
  • In addition to cleaning, the CDC recommends disinfecting areas where people have been obviously ill (for instance, vomiting on facility surfaces).
  • Worksites should consult CDC When and How to Clean and Disinfect a Facility for more detailed information.
Additional steps
Social distancing
  • Reduce indoor crowding. A few example strategies to decrease crowding include, but are not limited to:
    • Host larger meetings outdoors or virtually.
    • Reduce occupancy and spread-out seating in meeting rooms and other small spaces such as locker rooms, weight rooms, restrooms, and saunas. Ensure good ventilation (see above).
    • Stagger break times so fewer workers are using lunch or breakrooms at the same time.
    • Encourage, where feasible, eating and taking breaks outdoors.
    • Continue, where feasible, to offer telework options for employees.
    • Implement flexible work hours, such as staggered or rotating shifts to reduce.
    • Establish procedures to prevent crowding among persons waiting to enter or exit a large event. Limiting attendance, establishing unidirectional foot traffic patterns, reservations, online waiting lists, timed entry or exit, and using staff to help direct traffic and limit access if the area becomes too crowded can help.
  • Reduce indoor background noise. The louder people with COVID-19 talk or the heavier they breathe, the more infectious viral particles are released into the air. Take steps to reduce the need for customers and employees to talk loudly or shout to be heard when possible. For example, keep background music volume low or provide microphones.
  • Consider asking people to test themselves for COVID-19 before attending if you plan to hold an event that entails eating and drinking (since people are less likely to be masked).

Communication
Communicate
  • Cal-OSHA ETA requires employers to communicate specific information with employees about COVID-19 prevention, transmission, and hazards. See Cal-OSHA Communication with Employees.
  • Consider using clearly visible signage at the entrance to your business and in electronic communications (e.g., website, social media, email confirmations) to inform customers of your business’s COVID-19 safety policies, including any masking policy and that visitors must not enter the premises if sick or infected.
  • In workplaces and offices, consider establishing meeting ground rules that might address people’s comfort around mask wearing and people’s desire for personal space. Even if there are no physical distancing requirements, people may not be ready for closer contact with their colleagues, especially when masks aren’t worn.

Signage
MASKS REQUIRED
COVID-19 entry sign - Masks Required by State Regulations
Entry Sign: Masks Required by State Regulations
English PDF | Word Doc
COVID-19 entry sign - Masks Required by Federal Regulations
Entry Sign: Masks Required by Federal Regulations
English PDF | Word Doc
COVID-19 entry sign - Masks Required by Management
Entry Sign: Masks Required by Management
English PDF | Word Doc
MASKS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED
COVID-19 entry sign - Masks Strongly Recommended
Entry Sign: Masks Strongly Recommended
English PDF | Word Doc
OTHER COVID-19 PREVENTION SIGNAGE
Stay away if sick poster
Stay Away If You Are Sick
COVID-19 Exposure Notice
Hand Washing Poster
Resources
Upgrade your mask
Protect Yourself from COVID-19 in the Workplace: Know Your Mask Rights (For Employees)
(updated 9/30/22) English | Spanish
Flyer - Free and low-cost PPE for businesses
Low-cost PPE for businesses-Flyer
(updated 12-30-22) English
Summary - LA County Ongoing COVID-19 Rules for Businesses
Summary - LA County Ongoing COVID-19 Safety Measures - Rules for businesses
(Revisions pending--last updated 5/18/22) English | Spanish | հայերեն  | 简体中文 | 繁體中文 | 日本語 | 한국어 | Tagalog | Thai | Tiếng Việt
DPH COVID-19 Safety Workers Rights in California - Pamphlet
COVID-19 Safety Workers Rights in California - Pamphlet
Guidance for Hosting Holiday Events
Indoor Air Quality Ventiliation Tips (CDPH)
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Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.

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