On July 2, 2020, the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) supplemented its prior COVID-19 guidance (Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 and Guidance on Returning to Work) with additional FAQ guidance covering topics such as best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection in the workplace, workplace testing, and worker training. Though the guidance is not a standard or regulation itself (and therefore creates no new legal obligations for employers), it provides practical answers to actual inquiries OSHA received from the public regarding COVID-19 and workplace safety, and refers to pertinent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance and applicable OSHA standards for employers to consider.
OSHA grouped the FAQs by topic for easy navigation. Several of the key FAQs for employers are summarized below.
What precautions can employers in non-healthcare workplaces take to protect workers from COVID-19?
Employers should assess worker exposure to hazards and risks and implement infection prevention measures to reasonably address them consistent with OSHA Standards. Such measures could include:
- Promoting frequent and thorough handwashing or sanitizing with at least 60% alcohol hand sanitizer;
- Encouraging workers to stay at home if sick;
- Encouraging use of cloth face coverings;
- Training employees on proper respiratory etiquette, social distancing, and other steps they can take to protect themselves;
- Considering using stanchions, temporary barriers, shields, and spacing out workstations to help keep workers and others at the worksite at least 6 feet away from each other;
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces (e.g., door handles, sink handles, workstations, restroom stalls) as much as possible, but at least daily.
Employers subject to OSHA’s PPE standard must also provide and require the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) when needed, and must conduct job hazard assessments to determine the appropriate type and level of PPE required.
The US Department of Labor and US Department of Health and Human Services’ Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 and OSHA’s Prevent Worker Exposure to COVID-19 alert provide more information on steps all employers can take to reduce workers’ risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2. Learn more about preventing the spread of COVID-19 from OSHA and CDC.
Cleaning and Disinfection
How should I clean and disinfect my workplace?
Employers should review the CDC’s updated information about cleaning and disinfecting public spaces, workplaces, businesses, schools, and homes.