While there are no specific Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) standards covering COVID-19 (coronavirus), OSHA has published guidance intended to help employers protect their workers from exposure and prevent COVID-19 from spreading.
Under the General Duty Clause, employers are required to furnish workers with a place of employment that is free from recognized hazards that are causing, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm. OSHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following initiatives to best safeguard your work environment from COVID-19.
Engineering controls: Isolate employees from the hazard using high-efficiency air filters or increasing ventilation rates.
Administrative controls: Change workplace procedures to reduce or minimize a hazard by encouraging sick employees to stay home and developing emergency communication plans (i.e., social distancing).
Safe work practices: Reduce the duration, frequency or intensity of exposure to the hazard by providing tissues and no-touch trash cans and require regular hand washing or use of alcohol-based hand rubs.
Personal protective equipment (PPE): Minimize exposure by requiring correct use of PPE, such as respiratory protection, goggles or gloves. The appropriate type of PPE should be selected based on the hazard to the employee, regularly inspected and properly cleaned.
Travel guidelines: Restrict unnecessary travel and require precautions for those who must travel.
For more examples on how to protect your employees and what your company can do to prepare the workplace for COVID-19, visit Bricker & Ecklers COVID-19 Resource Center and COVID-19 webpage.
Bricker & Eckler, 17 March 2020