Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is impacting every industry and business across the world. As a result, many workplaces are being forced to change policies and searching for the best methods to keep their business running smoothly during COVID-19 outbreaks. National Safety Compliance has formatted the Occupational Safety and Health Associations recommendations into a handy booklet titled OSHA: Preparing Workplaces For COVID-19 for easy use by business owners and trainers.
Some businesses are affected by the interruption of supplies and deliveries from other geographic areas, while others are experiencing absenteeism as many workers are home sick, caring for loved ones, or unable to work due to being at-risk or fearful of potential exposure. Most are seeing a change in patterns of commerce as consumer interest increases in items used for infection prevention and shopping habits change to reduce person-to-person contact.
While it is not possible to entirely stop these consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers can reduce the effect it has on their business, workers, customers, and the public by planning and preparing for traditional infection prevention and industrial hygiene practices. They can do so by implementing engineering, administration, personal protective equipment (PPE), and work practice controls. Giving employees COVID-19 safety training and implementing COVID safe work practices can significantly reduce the impact and spread of COVID in your workplace.
These methods may change as new information becomes available. COVID-19 outbreak conditions change and evolve, making it vital that employers keep up with new information on the transmission and impacts of the virus. They should consistently be mindful of potential risks in the workplace and any new control measures to enforce.
Employers should continually remind themselves and others to stay home from work if symptoms of COVID-19 appear. These symptoms include cough, fever, and shortness of breath and they will appear between 2 and 14 days after exposure. Employers cannot rely on symptoms alone, as many people are asymptomatic, meaning they experience no symptoms at all.
People are most contagious when their symptoms are at their worst, but it is possible for the virus to spread before any symptoms show. It is thought to spread mainly from people in close contact with one another through respiratory droplets that are inhaled or land in another’s mouth or nose.
How Employers Can Reduce Workers’ Risk of Exposure
To reduce the risk of exposure, follow these basic steps:
Develop an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan:
Develop a guide on protective actions against COVID-19 that incorporates recommendations from state and local health agencies. This should address the need for social distancing, exposure-reducing measures, and controls necessary to address those risks.
Prepare to Implement Basic Infection Prevention Measures:
This should place an emphasis on employers enforcing basic infection prevention and implementing good hygiene and infection control practices. This includes encouraging workers to stay home when sick, practicing frequent disinfection, respiratory etiquette, and not using others’ workspaces.
Develop Policies and Procedures for Prompt Identification and Isolation of Sick:
Employers should inform on symptoms and develop policies for employees to self-monitor for symptoms. Any confirmed cases of the virus should be isolated from the worksite and their workspace should be marked off with a temporary barrier.
Develop, Implement, and Communicate about Workplace Flexibilities and Protections:
Encourage employees to stay home when sick by allowing leave policies to be flexible, developing non-punitive leave policies, and not requiring a note from a healthcare provider. This also includes being understanding about workers taking care of sick family members, being aware of their health and safety concerns, and working with insurance companies on providing information about medical care in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Implement Workplace Controls:
To eliminate the hazards a combination of control measures including engineering controls, administrative controls, and safe work practices is necessary to effectively protect workers from exposure.
Different Forms of Control:
Engineering Controls: Isolate employees from work-related hazards where appropriate to avoid relying on worker behavior. These can include high-efficiency air filters, ventilation rates, and physical barriers.
Administrative Controls: This includes any changes in workplace policy and procedures that reduce exposure to a hazard like minimizing contact, establishing alternating shifts, and providing workers with up-to-date training and education on COVID-19.
Safe Work Practices: Administrative control that include procedures for safe and proper work to reduce the duration and frequency of exposure to a hazard by providing resources on personal hygiene, requiring regular handwashing, and supplying disinfectants. This can also be done with Coronavirus awareness training and awareness classes to further educate your employees on COVID-19 safety.
Personal Protective Equipment: PPE like gloves, goggles, face shields, and masks should be used in addition to, rather than in place of, the above workplace controls to prevent certain exposures. Make sure to provide PPE Safety Training if needed.
Classifications of Exposure
Worker risk of occupational exposure to COVID-19 is classified into very high, high, medium, or lower (caution) risk. The risk level is determined by the industries’ need for workers to be within 6 feet of someone suspected of being infected.
This helps employers determine the appropriate precautions for their workplace depending on which category they fall into.
Very High Exposure Risk:
These employees have the highest potential for exposure to known or suspected sources of COVID-19. This can include healthcare workers performing procedures on COVID-19 patients, laboratory personnel collecting specimens from patients, or morgue workers performing autopsies on the bodies of those known to have COVID-19 at the time of their death. Employers for very high exposure risk jobs should require all forms of engineering controls, administrative controls, and all safe work practices available, as well as all PPE including respirators.
High Exposure Risk:
These employees are at a high risk of exposure because they are in direct contact with suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19. This includes those working with COVID-19 patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and emergency response facilities. Employers of high exposure risk workers should follow the same guidelines as those given to very high exposure risk, though this is only a recommendation instead of a requirement.
Medium Exposure Risk:
These are people in a workforce who are required to be in close contact with other people who may be exposed including their co-workers. This includes places with ongoing community transmission, travel, and contact with the public in settings like schools, food processing, and high-volume retail centers. Employers for medium risk exposure workers should install physical barriers like sneeze guards, offer face masks to employees and customers, keep informed on symptoms of COVID-19 and not allow anyone experiencing those symptoms in the workplace, limit public access to only certain places, minimize face-to-face contact and select a combination of PPE to protect workers specific to their workplace.
Low Risk (Caution):
The majority of American’s make up this category with jobs that don’t require any contact with the public or any suspected of being infected, in addition, this means minimal contact with coworkers and the public. Employers for workers within this category should follow safety protocols and basic steps to reduce the risk of exposure and they are not recommended to require any additional engineering control or PPE other than what is required by the CDC and state and local laws.
Employees Living or Travelling Abroad
Businesses with employees traveling internationally or living abroad take on a different set of risks not associated with any one level. To combat these risks, employers should communicate to workers abroad that travel into or out of a country may not be possible or medically advisable due to COVID-19 outbreak conditions.
Employees abroad also need to be aware that the U.S. Department of State (DOS) cannot provide Americans traveling or living abroad with medications or supplies. It is likely that governments will respond to an outbreak by imposing public health measures that restrict domestic and international movement, meaning that the U.S. government’s ability to assist Americans in these countries would be even more limited.
For more information to further educate yourself on international travel during an outbreak, consult the section of OSHA’s website on “Business Travelers”, consult CDC travel warnings, and DOS travel advisories.
Assistance and Services
Staying informed on the latest developments and recommendations is critical for employees because specific guidance may change based on new information that arises. Follow federal, state, and local government agencies for communication on guidelines that apply to you in your area.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers have the responsibility to provide safe work environments for their employees. OSHA helps ensure that health and safety standards are enforced for all of America’s working men and women by setting proper guidelines and providing training, education, and assistance.
Additional OSHA Services:
Compliance Assistance Specialists: They work to provide information to employers on OSHA standards with educational programs and information on compliance assistance resources.
No-Cost On-Site Safety and Health Consultation Services for Small Business: Offer confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses with priority to high-hazard worksites.
Cooperative Programs: Allows businesses and labor groups to work cooperatively with OSHA.
Strategic Partnerships and Alliances: Provides a chance for OSHA to partner with employers, associations, labor organizations, and others to develop tools and resources to share with workers to educate on their rights and responsibilities.
Voluntary Protection Programs: The VPP recognizes those who have effectively implemented safety and health programs in the private sector and federal agencies.
Occupational Safety and Health Training: Delivers courses on OSHA standards and health and safety topics to students.
OSHA Educational Materials: OSHA has many materials to assist workers in finding and preventing any hazards including QuickTakes, newsletters, and publications.
Order our booklet Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 for a complete outline of everything you need to know about keeping your employees and workplace safe, efficient, and compliant according to current OSHA guidelines. These low-cost booklets will receive an automatic bulk discount in your cart when you buy 10 or more.
As mentioned earlier, we also have an Infectious Disease Training Program to help employers train for COVID-19 and future pandemics, which was newly created for Summer 2020. This program is available on DVD, USB, or via Instant Digital Access. It includes a trainer’s guide, compliance manual, PowerPoint presentation, employees quizzes, answer keys, supplemental documents, completion certificates, and wallet cards. These documents are all in digital form, so employers can print them for as many employees as they need at no additional costs.
National Safety Compliance is dedicated to helping employers identify and amend any job hazards to improve their safety and health programs. Our safety training programs are designed to help employers comply with their responsibilities under OSHA regulations and substantially reduce the number and severity of workplace illnesses. If you have any questions, please call us a 877-992-7233, reach us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment below.
The impact of COVID-19 has left no aspect of daily life untouched. Everything from going to the airport or showing up to work every day has been completely altered as COVID-19 shows its effects on all financial markets and industries. This pandemic has revealed the need for specialized training, so National Safety Compliance has developed a complete infectious disease control training program to help protect your business, employees, and clients from further danger or disruption.
Businesses have been constantly working towards reducing the impact of COVID-19 by planning and preparing as far in advance as possible for the safety of employers, workers and customers.
Many are concerned about the potential risk for exposure, how to control sources of exposure and slow down the transmission of the disease. If employers move forward without proper planning and training employees, these concerns may become a reality.
Lack of continually planning and preparing will result in the consistent failure of employers’ attempts to address the challenges of the pandemic. In order to succeed in your efforts to keep your employees safe, you must have both sufficient resources and adequate training for your employees to perform their jobs under pandemic conditions.
Proper pandemic planning should be based on infection prevention, industrial hygiene practices and personal protective equipment (PPE) use. Moving forward, employers and employees should be mindful of this training guidance to identify any risks in workplace settings, determine the appropriate measures to implement and take the necessary steps to ensure a safe workplace for all.
Having an In-Depth Understanding of COVID-19
In order to understand how to prevent the spread of the disease, you have to first have a better understanding of the disease itself. There is a constant flow of new information as researchers discover more about the disease.
Here is what we currently know about the disease. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person when they are in close contact with one another or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
While infected surfaces and objects are not the primary way of acquiring the disease, it is possible to procure the virus by touching an infected surface or object and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
It is believed that those who are infected are most contagious when they are most symptomatic. Meaning, the more symptoms you show, the more contagious you are. But people can also carry and spread the disease while they are asymptomatic.
Symptoms often appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and include a cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell and many other potential symptoms.
It is important to stay up to date with current conditions during the pandemic. Many assume once they know the basic methods of prevention and symptoms to watch out for they are educated enough, but new information about the virus may require changes in how you operate your workplace.
Looking ahead, new information is still being sought about the virus to help understand the disease. It is vital that employers continue to stay up to date on all aspects of COVID-19 to better understand how to protect against infection, treat cases and provide safe workplaces as the economy continues to open back up.
Utilize valuable resources like the CDC, OSHA and local and state governmental agencies in order to stay up to date on new information.
Implementing Pandemic Preparedness Plan
The first step to safety for your employers during this outbreak is to develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan. While making this you should be mindful of current regulations and recommendations from local agencies to incorporate into your plan.
Your plan should prepare your business for increased worker absenteeism, change in commerce patterns, delivery and supply disruptions, the need for social distancing and conducting essential operations with a reduced workforce and cross-training.
You should also consider the level of risk associated with various job tasks and which controls may be necessary to address them. For instance, it is important to determine how and where your employees can be exposed, as well as each individuals risk factors.
These risk factors will be different for each employee. Protection and PPE should be provided for customers who come in close contact with others.
You should also gauge the health of your employees consistently and encourage them to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of disease. This can be done by putting policies into place that ensure employees report if they are experiencing any symptoms and designating a room to close off so they can be isolated until medical help can arrive.
Workplace Controls and OSHA Standards
The best way to control hazards is to systematically remove them from the workplace. A combination of control measures is necessary to reduce exposure.
One form of this is engineering controls. This can include installing high-efficiency air filters, ventilation rates, physical barriers like sneeze guards and pressure ventilation.
Another form is administrative controls which should be included within any workplace plan. Consider including policies like encouraging sick employees to stay home, minimizing contact between any people within the building, establishing flexible worksites, discontinuing non-essential work travel and providing employees with up to date education and training on pandemic risk factors.
You should also be mindful of safe work practices which is a form of control measures that emphasizes good hygiene and infection control practices. This includes frequent hand washing, respiratory etiquette and routine housekeeping procedures to clean and disinfect.
And the final form of control measures is to provide proper PPE. This can include gloves, masks, face shields and goggles. Beyond simply providing PPE, employers should also provide training on proper use of PPE by having them properly fitted, regularly inspected and properly removed, cleaned and stored.
A combination of all of these forms is the perfect method for eliminating any risks to your employees. Businesses must also be mindful of OSHA guidelines on PPE, the General Duty Clause and Bloodborne Pathogens.
OSHA has divided job tasks into four risk exposure levels in the shape of a pyramid to represent probable risk. This ranges from very high exposure risk which would include healthcare or morgue workers to lower exposure risk which includes jobs that don’t require any contact with people suspected of being infected and minimal contact with the public.
Overall, the best workplace control to put into place is to communicate openly with your employees about the current situation of the workplace, provide training as needed and ensure employees are informed of safety precautions being taken.
At National Safety Compliance, we offer a number of different ways to train your employees on infectious disease training and planning. Here on OSHA-Safety-Training.net we offer complete infectious disease training programs with videos, trainers guides, PowerPoint presentations, quizzes, printable completion certificates, wallet cards, and more on DVD, USB, or Digital Access. We also offer complete online training modules on our OSHA Online Training site. Also, make sure to purchase posters in our series of informational COVID-19 safety posters.
If you have any further questions, please comment below, reach out to us via e-mail, or call us at 877-922-7233.
At National Safety Compliance, we understand the need for current OSHA-based training videos to help you maintain a safe and compliant workplace. Therefore, we are excited to announce the release of our new 2019 Forklift Safety training video kit. Available for both the general industry and the construction industry, our newest program provides up-to-date training to help you meet the classroom training requirements of 29 CFR 1910.178.
As with all our training kits, Forklift Safety is available in English or Spanish and in a variety of formats including DVD, USB, digital access and LMS.
National Safety Compliance is excited to announce the current, updated versions of the OSHA Code of Federal Regulations 1926 and 1910 are now available. Stay up-to-date and current with OSHA’s Construction and General Industry Regulations. Order your books today.
With little or no warning an emergency or disaster can strike. OSHA defines a workplace emergency as a situation which threatens workers, customers, or the public; disrupts or shuts down operations; or causes physical or environmental damage. According to an article written by the National Safety Council, in 2017 there were 59,985 weather events resulting in 592 deaths and 4,270 injuries.
Employers and employees should be prepared to deal with such situations and plan how to respond. The best way is to prepare a response before an emergency occurs. That is why the National Safety Council has chosen Emergency Preparedness as their Safety Spotlight topic for the month of May. It can be difficult to think clearly and logically during a crisis situation. Preparing before an emergency event occurs plays a vital role in ensuring employers and employees have the right equipment, know where to go when it happens and know how to keep safe. Being prepared saves lives and prevents injuries.
Creating an Emergency Action Plan for your business or organization will help provide a safe place for employees. Organizations with 11 or more employees are required by OSHA to have a written Emergency Action Plan and to post it in an easily accessible location.
National Safety Compliance can help you with our new Emergency Planning Training program which includes the training video, PowerPoint presentation, Emergency Action Plan manual, and printable items such as employee quiz & answer key, employee training certificate, program outline and other items. The training program covers the following aspects of an Emergency Action Plan:
Development and implementation
Training and plan review
Fight or flee
Fire, rescue and medical services
Visit us online at www.osha.ws or call us at 1-877-922-7233 to order your training program today.
National Safety Compliance also has available the latest edition of the CAL-OSHA regulations that are specific to workplaces in California. The most recent edition of these CAL-OSHA books is April 1, 2018. Please visit this link for more information.