Every employer can take steps to reduce the risk of their employees’ exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. OSHA has provided guidance on preparing workplaces for reopening. While we have provided some of the information below, we recommend reading through OSHA’s guidelines on reopening businesses for the safety and wellbeing of your employees and customers. The CDC has also provided a tool kit created to help employers reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace when reintegrating employees into a non-healthcare workplace.
One of the most important steps is to create an infectious disease preparedness and response plan that will guide protective actions against COVID-19. It’s essential to stay up to date and follow guidelines from federal, state, local, and/or territorial health agencies and consider incorporating those recommendations and resources into workplace-specific plans.
What to consider when creating an infectious disease preparedness and response plan:
- Where, how, and to what sources of COVID-19 workers might be exposed.
- The need for social distancing may include staggered work shifts, downsizing operations, delivering services remotely, and other exposure-reducing measures.
- Consider options for conducting essential operations with a reduced workforce, including cross-training workers across different jobs to continue operations or deliver surge services.
Implement Basic Infection Prevention Measures
Basic hygiene measures to prevent infection will help protect employees, customers, and any worksite visitors.
Here are 5 ways to prevent the spread of infection:
- Promote frequent and thorough hand washing or provide hand sanitizer spray, foaming hand sanitizer, or hand sanitizer gel containing at least 60% alcohol.
- Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.
- Encourage respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.
- Provide customers and the public with tissues and trash receptacles.
- Maintain regular housekeeping practices, including routine cleaning, disinfecting surfaces, equipment, and other elements of the work environment.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE can help prevent some exposures if used correctly, but should not take the place of other prevention strategies. Employers are required to provide their workers with PPE needed to keep them safe while performing their jobs. The types of PPE should be based on the risk of being infected with COVID-19 while working. Employers should check the OSHA and CDC websites regularly for updates about recommended PPE. Examples of PPE include gloves, goggles, face shields, face masks, and respiratory protection when appropriate.
To help you better understand OSHA requirements for reopening businesses; we have provided links for specific industries below:
Our COVID-19 Resource Center is now available. It will provide answers to your FAQ, updates on government assistance, and how to navigate through this uncertain time.