How should you prepare your facilities for the coronavirus? OSHA offers guidance

by Brianna Crandall — March 23, 2020 — The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19” to help companies respond in the event of coronavirus in the workplace. The guidance was developed in collaboration with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19” document, available on the OSHA website, provides practical guidance for preventing the spread of COVID-19, a type of coronavirus also known as the novel (new) coronavirus, and contains information on safe work practices and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) based on the risk level of exposure.

Sections of the document of particular relevance to facilities managers (FMs) cover:

  • Developing a preparedness and response plan
  • Basic infection prevention measures
  • Identifying and isolating sick people
  • Policies and procedures, communications
  • Facility, engineering and workplace controls
  • Classifying worker exposure by risk level of tasks performed, and what to do for each type

This guidance is part of the Department of Labor’s ongoing efforts to educate workers and employers about the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • In addition to the guidance, OSHA recently launched a COVID-19 webpage that provides infection prevention information specifically for workers and employers, and is actively reviewing and responding to any complaints regarding workplace protection from the novel coronavirus, as well as conducting outreach activities.
  • The Wage and Hour Division is providing information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19, including effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs has also published guidance for federal employees and outlines Federal Employees’ Compensation Act coverage as it relates to the novel coronavirus.
  • OSHA has also issued new temporary guidance regarding the enforcement of OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard. This guidance is aimed at ensuring healthcare workers have full access to needed N95 respiratory protection in light of anticipated shortages.

The “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19” document is available on the OSHA website.

For further information about Coronavirus, visit the HHS’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.