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PESA HSEQ/HR Townhall Discusses Workplace Issues Raised by COVID-19

PESA members discussed their experiences helping guide their companies through the pandemic environment during a virtual HSEQ/HR town hall meeting August 12.

Facilitated by PESA Advisory Board Member and HR Committee Chair Bonnie Houston, NOV; and Health and Safety Committee Chair Gary Childress, Oil States International, the conversation covered issues companies are confronting now, including COVID tracking, return to office dates, best practices in response to a potential exposure in the workplace, and COVID testing.

Most of the 30 companies participating on the call are tracking COVID-19 cases within their companies. The method varies, according to company representatives. Some are using spreadsheets; others have a global database. Larger companies are managing through occupational health offices or onsite medical personnel. In all cases, companies are careful to follow regulations protecting individual privacy.

There was no consensus on how companies are bringing employees back to the office. Some have left the date open and are waiting for a consistent trend of declining cases and a lower test positivity rate. Others have opened their offices and facilities, but with flexibility for employees in higher risk categories. One company representative said getting people back in the office isn’t a priority because they’ve seen no noticeable change in productivity.

When employees experience a potential coronavirus exposure in the workplace, companies are following CDC guidelines for quarantine and return to work. Most are requiring either a negative test take 4-5 days after exposure or 14 days symptom free before coming back to the job.

CDC guidelines now allow workers who have had COVID-19 in the past three months to remain on the job without a new test or a quarantine period. Individuals who have recovered have at least some immunity from the illness.

Companies have different policies about the type of test. Some leave it up to the employee and their doctor. Others require the PCR test because of erroneous results from the antibody test. Still others aren’t requiring tests but are instead following CDC timeframe guidelines.

For the latest information and resources visit PESA’s COVID-19 Resources page. For more information regarding the HSEQ Task Force contact Senior Director Membership services Peggy Helfert.