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Health and Safety Plan for COVID-19

COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that is spread mainly through person-to-person contact. This means people who are in close contact with one another, which the CDC considers six feet and closer. The virus is transmitted via respiratory droplets which are produced when an infected person sneezes or coughs. These droplets can land in the mouth or nose of a nearby person, or droplets can be inhaled into the lungs, causing infection to occur. It is also possible that transmission can occur by touching a surface that the virus has been introduced to and then touching your mouth, eyes, or nose. Symptoms of the virus may appear anywhere between day two and day fourteen of infection. There have been reports of mild to severe symptoms. Below are the main symptoms to look for:

  • Cough

  • Chills

  • Fever

  • Muscle Pain

  • Sore Throat

  • Shortness of breath

  • New loss of taste or smell

An important thing to remember about the symptoms, is that people can be infected with the virus without showing any symptoms. For these reasons, social distancing (physical distancing), proper hygiene, and elevated disinfection practices are our most effective means to protect ourselves and other from the spread of COVID-19.

All employees who have continued to work throughout the pandemic and those employees who are returning to work during the restart are required to complete the EHS 2019 Return to Work Health and Safety Training for COVID-19. In this training you will learn, how to protect yourself and others as we move NY Forward. The best way to prevent this illness is to avoid becoming exposed. Social distancing (physical distancing), and personal hygiene are the most important measures within your control to slow the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing (physical distancing) is to maintain a minimum distance of six (6) feet between yourself and others. Other examples include:

  • To formalize “stay home if you are ill.”, all employees are required to perform the Daily Check-in, Cornell's Daily Health Application prior to the start of your work-shift.

    • If you become ill at work, avoid others, contact your supervisor, and go home.

      • If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, consult with your healthcare provider.

    • Avoid handshakes, hugs, and high-fives.

    • Substitute face-to-face meetings, classroom training, and onsite assessments with Video-Conferencing and Video-Telephone applications, such as ZOOM, FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp, etc.

  • Use larger conference rooms if in person meetings are absolutely required.

  • Implement staggered start-times, breaks, and quit-times or other shift change procedure to minimize staff contact.

    • If staff share a space (control room, EMCS office, etc.) or equipment, post-shift and pre-shift disinfection procedures should be developed and implemented to reduce potential exposure.

  • Reduce number of employees assigned to projects. The task may take longer to complete but this creates a safer work environment.

If your work task requires you to enter an occupied room or office with a student(s), staff, or faculty member present, ask them to leave the room and always maintain a distance of six feet from person. If they are unwilling to exit the room or office, work with them to identify a time when they will no longer be in the space so you can maintain your distancing practices. If the person states they are sick, or in isolation and cannot leave the room, STOP, do not proceed, exit the space, and contact your supervisor immediately. Entry into isolation rooms requires specific training and personal protective equipment to safely enter such rooms.

To ensure that proper precautions are being followed on campus by our trades employees the following definitions have been created to differentiate between maintenance activities and construction activities: 

Maintenance is replacement in kind.

Maintenance activities require employees to social distance always, except when it is not feasible at which time a face covering, or mask shall be worn. These procedures are in addition to the need for disinfection, hand hygiene, cough, and sneeze etiquette, and to stay home when sick. If maintenance
tasks take place within a construction site, then 100% face cover or mask requirements apply.

Construction is anything other than replacement in kind.

Construction activities require employees to social distance always when feasible and a face cover or mask shall be worn 100% of the time while on-site. These procedures are in addition to the need for disinfection, hand hygiene, cough and sneeze etiquette, and to stay home when sick.

If you learn of a possible new case in the Cornell community, or observe unusual behaviors from community members, you should avoid the area, note any pertinent information (location, behavior, etc.), report it to your supervisor and await their direction prior to re-entering the area to perform service request. If you observe a sickly student, encourage them to contact Cornell Health at 607-255-5155 (24/7) to seek advice and care.

Social distancing should be combined with proper hygiene, frequent handwashing, and periodic disinfection practices. It is important to stop the spread of germs by:

  • Never touch your face, eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Require regular hand washing or the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Workers should always wash hands when they are visibly soiled or after touching high-touch surfaces, including phones, shared tools, doorknobs, light switches, and restroom fixtures.

    • At a minimum you should wash or sanitize your hands at the completion of every service request prior to accessing your vehicle and traveling to a new location.

  • Employees should periodically clean their work area, high touch points, electronics, and shared equipment, tooling and space that Building Care would not normally clean. Contact your manager for disinfection products.

  • Bring a change of clothes to work so that if necessary, soiled clothing can be removed. Then wash soiled work clothing immediately when you return home.

Staff must continue to utilize their section’s personal protective equipment chart to meet the University’s minimum personal protective equipment requirements. At this time respiratory protection to protect against COVID-19 is only required for those staff who are making patient contact, entry into isolation rooms, and COVID-19 Research. However, a NYS Executive Order now requires face coverings to be donned when employees are unable to social distance at work and in public. Evidence shows that many individuals who are carrying the virus are not showing any symptoms (“asymptomatic”) but can still transmit to others. The cloth coverings shall be used when and where social distancing is not an option or difficult to maintain. This control could help slow the spread of the virus by keeping those who have the virus but do not know it yet, from spreading it to others around them.

Wearing an N95 respirator as an ADA workplace accommodation requires the wearer to complete the Respirator Voluntary Use Sign Off on CULearn. The use of this N95 is solely as an ADA workplace accommodation during the COVID-19 pandemic and is only to be used in employees in positions that are deemed to not have occupational exposure to respiratory hazards. The wearer of the N95 acknowledges that wearing it does not replace the need to adhere to other Cornell University and CDC guidance to limit the spread of illness (social distancing, proper hand hygiene, etc…).

It is imperative that we embrace and implement the distancing, hygiene, and disinfection procedure outlined above. At this time, it is extremely important we are performing hazard assessments prior to and during our work tasks to manage our risk and continue to send staff home the same way they came in each day. Visit the Cornell University Coronavirus Updates webpage for resources, updates, and frequently asked questions specific to Cornell University.