Help Prevent Worker Exposure to SARS-CoV-2

May 21, 2020

An Overview of OSHA’s Interim Guide for the Control & Prevention of COVID-19 for Businesses

The U.S. State Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has created an interim guidance plan to help prevent worker exposure to COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2).

What Everyone, and Every Business, Should Be Doing

Good infection prevention practices help make the workplace safer for everyone. Employing these six simple items should be a priority for everyone. 

  1. Frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    ● When soap and running water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol
    ● Always wash hands that are visibly soiled
  2. Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  3. Practice good respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes
  4. Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  5. Stay home if you’re sick
  6. Recognize that personal risk factors could make you more susceptible, such as underlying health conditions (heart or lung disease, diabetes) and advanced age.

Determine Risk of Occupational Exposure

Infection prevention strategies should be based on a thorough hazard assessment for workers, using OSHA’s Hazard Recognition chart.

Low-risk businesses and workers should be aware of the status of community infection. Any changes could warrant a need for additional precautions. Create a plan for sharing this information in the workplace.

Workers at Increased Risk of Occupational Exposure

Medium, high, or very high-risk workers and businesses, such as meat and poultry processing, grocery stores, and pharmacies, should add engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and PPE use to their infection control strategies (see below).

Five Control Measures for Medium to Very High Risk Organizations

  1. Identify and Isolate Suspected Cases
    Promptly identify and isolate potentially infectious individuals. Have them wear a facemask if they can tolerate it. They should leave work as soon as possible; severe cases may require emergency services.
  1. Environmental Cleaning and Decontamination
    Continue routine cleaning and other housekeeping practices and increase the frequency of cleaning high-touch surfaces. Use recommended EPA-registered disinfectants. For full guidance on nonhealthcare cleaning recommendations from the CDC, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html.
  1. Worker Training
    Train all employees on the risks of exposure, how it can happen, and what to do if someone has been exposed. Workers required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) must have specific training that includes what needs to be worn, how to put it on and remove it, and how to dispose of and/or maintain it.
  1. Workers with Increased Susceptibility for SARS-CoV-2 Infection or Complications
    Consider adjusting responsibilities or locations of workers who are more susceptible to coronavirus, such as those with diabetes, heart or lung issues, other immunocompromising health conditions, or those over the age of 65.
  1. PPE Considerations
    Use the hazard recognition chart and job duties to determine the type of PPE workers may need. If there are shortages of PPE, they should be prioritized for high-hazard activities.

Please visit the OSHA Control & Prevention web page for complete information and additional links for job-specific recommendations for the COVID-19 pandemic.





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