Coronavirus Protection Program Guidelines Updated by OSHA
On January 29, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace which updates guidance and recommendations to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The guidance issued by OSHA informs employers and workers outside of healthcare to help identify risks of being exposed to and/or contracting COVID-19. As many are aware, COVID-19 is highly transmissible and can be spread by people who have no symptoms.
What Workers Need To Know about COVID-19 Protections in the Workplace
The guidelines both inform workers and advise employers about the resources and policies that should be in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Workers should expect a safe and healthy workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm. The guidelines reiterate the existing procedures workers can follow to keep themselves safe.
- OSHA continues to advise that the best way to protect yourself is to stay far enough away from other people so that you are not breathing in particles produced by an infected person – generally at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths), although this is not a guarantee, especially in enclosed spaces or those with poor ventilation.
- Practicing good personal hygiene and washing your hands often helps prevent the spread of the disease.
- Face coverings are simple barriers to help prevent your respiratory droplets or aerosols from reaching others. The main function of wearing a face covering is to protect those around you, in case you are infected but not showing symptoms. Even though COVID-19 vaccinations are in the early stages of rollout, it is important to wear a face covering and remain physically distant from co-workers and customers even if you have been vaccinated because it is not known at this time how vaccination affects transmissibility.
- Employee protections are in place for workers who bring up coronavirus related concerns.
The Roles of Employers and Workers in Responding to COVID-19
Under the OSH Act, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
Implementing a workplace COVID-19 prevention program is the most effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at work, and engaging workers in the development of the program improves adoption. Examples of an effective prevention program include:
- Assignment of a workplace coordinator
- Identification of where and how workers might be exposed to COVID-19 at work
- Consideration of protections for workers at higher risk for severe illness through supportive policies and practices
- Minimize the negative impact of quarantine and isolation on workers (provide remote/work-from-home opportunities)
- Establishment of a system for communicating effectively with workers and in a language they understand
In addition, a greater emphasis on face coverings is included in the updated guidance. Key among new additions is that “Employers should provide face coverings to the workers at no cost,” and “Require any other individuals at the workplace (e.g., visitors, customers, nonemployees) to wear a face covering unless they are under the age of 2 or are actively consuming food or beverages on site,”
OSHA advises that the recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content, and are intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace. But as
We’re Here to Help
Although the COVID-19 vaccine is becoming more widely available, any workplace environment is still susceptible to an outbreak. Keep United Alliance Services in mind for the following safety service options:
COVID-19 CONSULTING BUNDLE – Written directive/policy on requirements which can be either a corporate policy or a site-specific policy.
COVID-19 TRAINING (INFECTION CONTROL WEBINAR) – We offer Open Enrollment Classes and Private Company Sponsored Classes made available at your convenience.
COVID19 TESTING – We now offer COVID-19 Testing Services For Colleges, Universities, Private Companies, And Public Agencies
If you have concerns about your workforce and coronavirus, please contact us today to learn about steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your employees.