The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a document on Monday that provides companies with guidance on how to respond to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in American workplaces.
OSHA’s document, “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19,” was created with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to provide information on safe work practices and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for various risk levels of exposure.
“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),” OSHA said in the guidance. “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.”
Many companies are already barring their workers from traveling internationally or domestically, and some are telling employees to work from home. Employers are encouraged in the document to develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan, put basic measures in place to prevent infections from spreading, create procedures to identify and isolate sick people, communicate with workers about protecting themselves from infections, and implement workplace controls.
The Department of Labor said OSHA’s guidance is part of ongoing efforts to educate the workers and employers about the COVID-19 outbreak.
OSHA debuted a COVID-19 webpage to offer infection prevention information for workers and employers. The website is also actively reviewing and responding to any complaints regarding workplace protection from novel coronavirus, as well as conducting outreach activities.
“Protecting the health and safety of America’s workforce is a key component of this Administration’s comprehensive approach to combating the coronavirus,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “This guidance outlines practical ways that employers and workers can address potential health risks from the coronavirus in their workplaces.”
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