August 13, 2020

CDC: Plain Language Key for COVID-19 Communication with Workers

CDC recently published a communication plan intended to help employers in industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, meat and poultry, and seafood processing share messages related to COVID-19 prevention with their employees. The agency’s plan, which applies to select non-healthcare critical infrastructure industries, suggests methods employers can use to communicate with workers, outlines key messages employers can use to help employees protect themselves from COVID-19, and highlights existing CDC communication materials that have already been translated into multiple languages.

CDC urges employers to use multiple methods to inform workers about COVID-19 prevention measures, policies, and procedures. The agency notes that an effective COVID-19 communication plan includes opportunities for employees to provide feedback and ask questions. Suggested communication channels include letters to staff, posted materials in work areas, videos shown on television monitors at worksites, and company text messaging programs.

The plan’s section on key messages includes recommended messaging for all employees, for workers at higher risk for severe disease, and for workers who are sick. CDC suggests messaging related to case investigation and contact tracing as well as return-to-work communications for employees with COVID-19. The agency’s plan also covers communications related to cloth face coverings and prevention practices both at work and outside of work.

“Non-healthcare critical infrastructure employees are a diverse population; extra care and thought may be required to communicate effectively in culturally appropriate ways,” CDC states. “Translation and interpretation of materials and messages into employees’ preferred language(s) at appropriate reading levels using plain language is critical to ensure successful prevention and control efforts.”

View the full communication plan on CDC’s website.