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Minimizing COVID-19 Exposure In The Workplace

Best Practices for COVID-19 in the Workplace
Best Practices for COVID-19 in the Workplace

UPDATE:Our Complete Infectious Disease Control Training Program Is Now Available

Are you taking these precautions to help workers stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic?

There are thousands of workplaces still operating – many at peak capacity – during the coronavirus pandemic. These include food production facilities, warehouses, shipping companies, hospitals, physician offices and factories producing much-needed medical equipment like ventilators and protective masks. Many others are looking at what practices to implement when they return to work from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Here are some COVID-19 best practices and training tips that will help mitigate risk factors in your workplace. If you already have a robust pandemic safety and training program, these recommendations can make it even stronger.

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. As of April 14th, it has already infected more than 588,300 people in the U.S., causing nearly 25,000 deaths.

Some business owners already have pandemic safety training plans in place for influenza outbreaks, but this crisis requires additional COVID-19 safety training in accordance with labor law best practices for coronavirus safety.

Symptoms of COVID-19

The most common symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. But an estimated 25% (perhaps even more) of infected people may not exhibit any symptoms at all. These people can nonetheless still spread the disease.

According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

How COVID-19 Spreads

People can get COVID-19 by being in close proximity to an active carrier or by touching a surface that has the virus on it, then touching their mouth, nose or eyes.

Impact On The Workplace

The potential for workplace coronavirus is already having these effects on businesses across America:

Greater absenteeism – Some workers can’t report because they have the illness, while others are caregivers for children in locations where schools and daycare centers have been closed.

Reduced or altered hours – Some businesses (like grocery stores) are reducing hours of operation so that facilities can be sanitized overnight.

The Importance Of Communication

American workers are both frightened and confused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Company-wide communication can bring calm and clarity. For example, The Department of Labor has created a fact sheet about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that gives all federal workers greater paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave during the COVID-19 crisis.

Pandemic Planning For Businesses

Establishing A Response Plan

If your organization doesn’t currently have an infectious disease preparedness plan, now is the time to implement one. Pandemic training can help business owners and managers deal with the current outbreak and any future ones.

Key considerations include:

  • Determining where and how workers might get exposed to COVID-19 at your site
  • Assessing your workers’ risk factors (e.g., age, chronic health conditions, pregnancy, etc.)
  • Discovering whether coronavirus handwashing best practices are being followed
  • Developing a plan for higher rates of worker absenteeism
  • Determining which employees have the ability to work remotely
  • Implementing multiple shifts or staggered hours to reduce the number of employees working at any given time
  • Cross-training employees to cover the duties of those who are ill or providing childcare

Preventive Measures To Minimize Infection

These recommendations can greatly reduce the rate of infection:

  • Advise employees to stay home if they’re feeling ill
  • Provide all employees with places to wash their hands with soap and hot water
  • Train workers in cough and sneeze etiquette (covering a cough or sneeze to prevent airborne transmission)
  • Distribute hand sanitizers at numerous locations in the workplace
  • Reorganize workflow to allow for social distancing of six feet between workers
  • Use disinfectant products to frequently clean desktops, work areas, computer keyboards, etc.
  • Discourage employees for using other workers’ computers or tools
  • Encourage employees to wear gloves, protective face masks or bandanas if appropriate

Modifying The Workplace

Infection rates can also be reduced by augmenting the workplace with:

  • High-efficiency air filters
  • Sneeze guards
  • Drive-through windows for customer service

Additional Resources On COVID-19 Exposure In The Workplace

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the latest information about COVID-19:

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also provides COVID-19 updates at

Your Most Trusted Safety Compliance Resource

If you need help with any type of safety compliance training, National Safety Compliance can help. We offer hundreds of safety training resources for all industries, such as our DVD, USB, or Digital Access Safety Training Kits which empower employers to train all of their employees at one low cost, our safety training and labor law posters, and our Online Training Courses that can be assigned to employees remotely.

5 thoughts on “Minimizing COVID-19 Exposure In The Workplace

  1. Our governments need to concentrate on EDUCATION of staying safe outside the workplace. Open our economy and let the smart and cautious thrive and those that don’t will then be “educated”. We can live in a vacuum and keep telling everyone it is alright….because the down turn in our economy has much bigger and longer lasting consequences than any Covid-19 pandemic will.

    Facts: 40,231 deaths in 2017 and 40,327 deaths in 2016. national safety council as a source

    Add those two numbers and when have we acted so hastely and took cars away from “ALL”.

    Please people….over 80,000 deaths with cars and we never talk about it and its just something we accept….so we are not going to accept Covid-19 and take away my civil liberties and lively hood. Please read and absorb before just saying people will die. Look at the real statistics I posted above.

    1. Thanks for your comment. It is a difficult time and it is equally difficult to know what the best path forward can be. We are struggling along with most every other company out there. Currently we are working with a skeleton crew and treading water in an effort to come out the other side still alive. The effects of the current actions being taken are going to cause some real problems: There is no denying that. And it definitely seems like we could implement some common sense guidelines to start opening up businesses and schools and get the economy up and moving. I realize people are dying from this and do not mean to imply in any way that it isn’t something we should just blow off. I do think we can address both the virus and the economy in a smart and effective manner. These are just my opinions. I wish you the best.

  2. I have used National Safety Compliance for years and the training courses have certainly made my training even stronger. I have been showing the same Hazard Communication video for the last several years.. since GHS compliance. However, I’m wondering if you’ve come up with a newer video. I’m finding that not a lot of your programs are updated frequently.
    Becky Nichols
    Universal Products
    Goddard, KS
    HR/Safety Manager

    1. Hey Becky, Thank you for your comment. We appreciate your use of our training programs. You are partially correct in your statement about the updates. We have over the years made minor updates to our programs in an effort to keep the video portion of the training accurate and current. Unfortunately, the process and cost of creating a new video every three or four years can be a little prohibitive. And when the regulation on which the program is based remains unchanged it isn’t always necessary. Having said that I would like to say our company was bought out just over a year ago by a group of investors who are working towards updating many of our programs and improving other product lines. We immediately ended our contract with an outside source and brought our Labor Law Posters in-house. We’ve made changes to our 1926 and 1910 CFRs to accommodate users. And concerning our training programs, we have released brand new training programs for Bloodborne Pathogens for both general industry and healthcare, Forklift for general and construction industries, and Aerial & Scissor Lifts (three different training programs.) We are currently working on a new sexual harassment programs with Hazcom on the horizon. The current state of affairs has thrown a little bit of a monkey wrench into the whole process. Like most companies we are working with a shorten staff and some plans are currently on hold. We hope things will return to some sort of “normal” soon enough and we can resume working on new programs. We hope you will continue to keep us in mind for your training needs. And if you have suggestions we are more than happy to listen. We wish you the best. Stay safe.

  3. […] The days of routine janitorial cleanup are over. Every business must now take extra steps to ensure that the workplace remains clean and disinfected. […]

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