OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19

By April 2, 2020 May 22nd, 2020 Covid-19, Helpful Hints, Risk Management

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It has spread from China to many other countries around the world, including the United States. Depending on the severity of COVID-19’s international impacts, outbreak conditions—including those rising to the level of a pandemic—can affect all aspects of daily life, including travel, trade, tourism, food supplies, and financial markets.

To reduce the impact of COVID-19 outbreak conditions on businesses, workers, customers, and the public, it is important for all employers to plan now for COVID-19. For employers who have already planned for influenza pandemics, planning for COVID-19 may involve updating plans to address the specific exposure risks, sources of exposure, routes of transmission,and other unique characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 (i.e., compared to pandemic influenza viruses).

Employers who have not prepared for pandemic events should prepare themselves and their workers as far in advance as possible of potentially worsening outbreak conditions. Lack of continuity planning can result in a cascade of failures as employers attempt to address challenges of COVID-19 with insufficient resources and workers
who might not be adequately trained for jobs they may have to perform under pandemic conditions.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed COVID-19 planning guidance based on traditional infection prevention and industrial hygiene practices. It focuses on the need for employers to implement engineering, administrative, and work practice controls and personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as considerations for doing so.

This guidance is intended for planning purposes. Employers and workers should use this planning guidance to help
identify risk levels in workplace settings and to determine any appropriate control measures to implement. Additional guidance may be needed as COVID-19 outbreak conditions change, including as new information about the virus, its transmission, and impacts, becomes available.

Steps All Employers Can Take to Reduce Workers’ Risk of Exposure to SARS-CoV-2

  1. Develop an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan
  2. Prepare to Implement Basic Infection Prevention Measures
  3. Develop Policies and Procedures for Prompt Identification and Isolation of Sick People, if Appropriate
  4. Develop, Implement, and Communicate about Workplace Flexibilities and Protections
  5. Implement Workplace Controls
    1. Engineering Controls
    2. Administrative Controls
    3. Safe Work Practices
    4. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  6. Follow Existing OSHA Standards

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the latest information about COVID-19 and the global outbreak: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov.

The OSHA COVID-19 webpage offers information specifically for workers and employers: www.osha.gov/covid-19.

For the specifics please click below to read the full guidance:

https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf