Puerto Rico Department of Labor Requires COVID-19 Plan Certification

In light of the most recent executive order (OE-2020-038), the Puerto Rico Secretary of Labor issued letter 2020-03 on May 1st, 2020, mandating all employers to certify they have a workplace contingency protocol in place, to control the spread of COVID-19. This is applicable to employers who currently have employees at their worksite, as well as to employers planning to have workers returning to their worksite. Although no deadline was imposed to employers who are currently open for business, the directive urges all employers to comply with the self-certification requirement as early as possible. However, employers planning to have employees at their worksite soon, will need to file the employer certification before resuming operations.

The DOL published an employer certification form that could be found at https://www.trabajo.pr.gov/docs/Boletines/Autocertificacion_Patronal_PROSHA_(COVID19).pdf.  The employer certification will have to be sent to autocertificacionprosha@trabajo.pr.gov with a copy of the Covid-19 Contingency Protocol.

Employer’s must certify that their COVID-19 Control Contingency Protocol includes the following: (1) the plan is in writing and it includes employees’ duties, building structure and staff; (2) the plan must be prepared for each specific workplace; (3) includes general information about COVID-19; (4) includes recommendations and preventive advice issued by relevant local, national and international health agencies; (5) includes a risk assessment and classification according to the specific industry; (6) contains details about the monitoring process and screening process for employees before entering the worksite; (7) includes the number of employees assigned to work per day and methods for implementing physical distancing; (8) includes modifications to lunchroom areas, including a plan limiting the number of employees using the area; (9) indicates the control measures taken to achieve physical distancing between employees and customers or visitors; (10) indicates how adequate ventilation will be provided to ensure adequate air flows and in places with air conditioning systems, effective air filtering; (11) includes and details methods implemented for cleaning and disinfecting and the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting of work areas; (12) details hygiene methods for employees, such as designated areas for hand washing, use and distribution (by the employer) of “hand sanitizer”, alcohol and antibacterial soap; (13) establishes an itinerary (frequency) for employees to wash their hands; (14) description and inventory of PPE to be provided by the employer to employees, when necessary; (15) details the procedure to follow in case of detection of an employee with symptoms or who tests positive for COVID-19; (16) details the monitoring process for positive cases and the filing in the Registry of Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300); (17) establishes the compulsory use of face masks; (18) details employer’s plan for employees who are part of high-risk groups (pregnant, over 65 years, staff with comorbidity); (18) description and evidence of training to employees on the use, limitations and disposal of PPE; (19) designated person in charge of evaluating and monitoring safety, risks and needs relating to the COVID-19 pandemic; (20) evidence of discussion of the contingency plan with staff, and (21) includes evidence of discussion with unions, if they exist, and a certification that it complies with any collective bargaining agreement.

Employers can only resume operations after the employer certification is submitted to the Department. Penalties may be imposed to employers whose protocols do not meet the standards imposed by Puerto Rico OSHA and the CDC. Additionally, Puerto Rico OSHA may contact the employer or visit the workplace to confirm that the information provided was correct or to confirm that the plan complies with local and federal regulations. Finally, by submitting the certification form, which is mandatory, the employers consent to appear on a pubic list issued by the Department.

The Labor and Employment team at Estrella LLC is available to assist employers with this new requirement.  Please contact us at labor@estrellallc.com.