COVID-19 Preparedness Plan

Under Gov. Tim Walz’s Executive Orders, businesses that are in operation during the peacetime emergency are required to establish a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. This includes both critical and non-critical businesses. 

Otter Tail Power Company is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all our workers and customers, contractors, and visitors. To ensure we have a safe and healthy workplace, Otter Tail Power Company has developed the following COVID-19 Preparedness Plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Managers and workers are all responsible for implementing this plan. Our goal is to mitigate the potential for transmission of COVID-19 in our workplaces and communities, and that requires full cooperation among our workers and management. Only through this cooperative effort can we establish and maintain the safety and health of all persons in our workplaces.

The COVID-19 Preparedness Plan is administered by Pete Wasberg, Director Human Resources & Safety, who maintains the overall authority and responsibility for the plan. However, management and workers are equally responsible for supporting, implementing, complying with, and providing recommendations to further improve all aspects of this COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. Otter Tail Power Company’s managers and supervisors have our full support in enforcing the provisions of this plan.

Ensure sick workers stay home and prompt identification and isolation of sick persons

  • Otter Tail Power Company developed and implemented several checklists and protocols to address self-monitoring for signs and symptoms, including: Regular communication of the most recent signs and symptoms guidance from the CDC; an online training resource for all employees to complete, which promoted the self-identification of the signs and symptoms. Four separate Behavior Based Observations were conducted by managers and supervisors with each employee to ensure understanding and compliance with Otter Tail Power Company policies for monitoring and proper notification of illness onset. Contact numbers for local health providers for each location were obtained and shared as needed.
  • Otter Tail Power Company has sick leave policies to address employee sickness, household member illness, and isolation when required by a health care provider. The Company continues to communicate the existing sick leave policy and expectations for employees who may be in any of these situations.
  • Otter Tail Power Company developed a COVID-19 leave policy to provide up to 80 hours of paid time off for employees who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, are scheduled and waiting to be tested for COVID-19 or for the test results, have been required to quarantine by the Company, or are quarantined by a medical professional because the employee is presumed to have COVID-19.
  • Otter Tail Power Company implemented a policy for employees to report any suspected or known COVID-19 exposure to their Supervisor/Manager, to contact Human Resources, and be directed to report to the local health care provider.
  • Otter Tail Power Company follows the most current CDC guidance protocols concerning employee illness, household member illness, and exposure to positive or suspected positive COVID-19 individuals.
  • Otter Tail Power Company maintained the policy that directed all Supervisors/Managers, Safety Department, and Human Resource department employees that all health-related information regarding any employee is confidential, per attorney/client privilege, and must be treated as such.

Social distancing – Workers must be at least six-feet apart 

Otter Tail Power Company has implemented several engineering and administrative controls to maintain social distancing, such as:

  • A policy limiting vehicles to one employee per at a time was implemented. In cases where this is not possible, a face mask will be worn by vehicle occupants.  
  • Work shifts were altered and staggered where possible to reduce employee population to accommodate social distancing.
  • System Operations maintains the option of moving PSO’s and other employees to secondary locations.
  • Meeting rooms were modified to accommodate a restricted number of employees at one time. Meetings are primarily conducted utilizing teleconference opportunities.
  • Power plants staggered employee shifts to reduce employee population, breakrooms were modified to ensure social distancing.
  • Posters were distributed and displayed in locations for reminders to social distance, floor tape markings were installed to indicate proper distance.
  • Plexiglass barriers for high traffic areas have been installed for when more employees return to their normal work location.
  • Entrances were locked to prevent close contact and establish foot traffic flow that allowed for social distancing. 
  • Employee communications and tracking of employees who have received permission to report to the workplace is monitored to ensure proper distancing.
  • Training for all employees on expectations while in the workplace regarding social distancing and the use of face coverings when away from their work desk has been implemented. 
  • Personal protective equipment, office equipment, phones, pens, markers, computers or work tools and equipment are not to be shared, and if so, must be cleaned and disinfected prior to sharing.
  • Return to the workplace guidelines have been provided for employees returning to their normal work location, those that remained working at their normal location, and those intermittently entering Company facilities.

Worker hygiene and source controls

  • Otter Tail Power Company has procured or developed in-house signage, posters, and training that continues to require proper hygiene controls per current CDC guidance.
  • Hand sanitizer, disinfectant, and soap and water are provided for each employee. Resources for refill and possible customers, clients, patrons, guests, and visitors are always available. 
  • All employees are trained and Behavior Based Observations are conducted on the knowledge and application of proper hygiene protocols.
  • Otter Tail Power Company has implemented requirements in all locations to require face coverings when social distancing isn’t possible, and have procured supplies for employees to ensure compliance.
  • MN Executive Order 20-81 mandates that, effective 7/24/2020 at 11:59 pm, Minnesotans must wear a face covering in indoor businesses and indoor public settings as well as outdoors when it is not possible to maintain social distancing. The order also requires a mask when riding in a vehicle for a business purpose, except when riding alone.
  • Executive Order 20-81 encourages people to carry a mask at all times and highlights that businesses may implement more stringent mask requirements beyond those of this Executive Order. The full Executive Order can be found here.
  • Otter Tail Power Company has implemented training, signage, and guidance for proper etiquette regarding proper actions to eliminate exposures.

Workplace building and ventilation protocol

  • Otter Tail Power Company has been and continues to maintain the highest degree of oversight in our ventilation systems, assess work locations, occupancy restrictions, and humidification requirements to provide the proper ventilation needs for its employees.

Workplace cleaning and disinfection protocol

  • Otter Tail Power Company has implemented regular practices of cleaning and disinfecting including a schedule for routine cleaning and disinfecting of work surfaces, equipment, tools and machinery, vehicles and areas in the work environment, including restrooms, break rooms, lunch rooms, meeting rooms, and drop-off and pick-up locations.
  • Frequent cleaning and disinfecting are being conducted for high-touch areas, including phones, keyboards, touch screens, controls, door handles, elevator panels, railings, copy machines, and delivery equipment, etc.
  • Appropriate and effective cleaning and disinfecting supplies have been purchased and are available for use in accordance with product labels, safety data sheets and manufacturer specifications, and are being used with required personal protective equipment for the product.

Drop-off, pick-up and delivery practices, and protocol

  • Otter Tail Power Company has notified suppliers, vendors, and delivery employees which received established requirements for such actions while on company premises. 
  • When deliveries can be delayed or omitted, instructions have been communicated to suppliers. 
  • No-touch delivery protocols are in place, disinfecting materials are required if the items are to be shared.

Communications and training practices and protocol 

This COVID-19 Preparedness Plan was communicated to all workers June 29, 2020 via the Otter Tail Power Company internal COVID-19 website. Additional communication and training is ongoing by Human Resources and Safety Services through online or telework opportunities. 

  • Training will be provided to all workers who did not receive the initial training and prior to initial assignment or reassignment.
  • Instructions have and will be communicated to all workers, including employees, temporary workers, staffing and labor-pools, independent contractors, subcontractors, vendors and outside technicians about protections and protocols, including: 
    • Social distancing protocols and practices.
    • Drop-off, pick-up, and deliveries. 
    • Practices for hygiene and respiratory etiquette. 
    • Recommendations or requirements regarding the use of masks, face-coverings and/or face-shields by workers. 
    • All workers, customers, clients, patrons, guests, and visitors will also be advised not to enter the workplace if they are experiencing symptoms or have contracted COVID-19. 
    • Managers and supervisors are expected to monitor how effective the program has been implemented.

All management and workers are to take an active role and collaborate in carrying out the various aspects of this plan, and update the protections, protocols, work-practices, and training, as necessary. This COVID-19 Preparedness Plan has been certified by Otter Tail Power Company management, and the plan was posted throughout the workplace and made readily available to employees 06/29/2020. It will be updated as necessary by Pete Wasberg, Director Human Resources & Safety.

COVID-19 Preparedness Plan