HR Tidbit - COVID and OSHA
June 1, 2021The Roles of Employers and Workers in Responding to COVID-19
Under the OSH Act, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
Implementing a workplace COVID-19 prevention program is the most effective way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at work.
The most effective COVID-19 prevention programs engage workers and their representatives in the program's development and implementation at every step, and include the following elements:
- Assignment of a workplace coordinator
- Identification of where and how workers might be exposed to COVID-19 at work.
- Identification of a combination of measures that will limit the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, in line with the principles of the hierarchy of controls.
- eliminating the hazard by separating and sending home infected or potentially infected people from the workplace;
- implementing physical distancing in all communal work areas [includes remote work and telework];
- installing barriers where physical distancing cannot be maintained;
- suppressing the spread of the hazard using face coverings;
- improving ventilation;
- using applicable PPE to protect workers from exposure;
- providing the supplies necessary for good hygiene practices; and
- performing routine cleaning and disinfection.
- Consideration of protections for workers at higher risk for severe illness through supportive policies and practices. Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions.
- Establishment of a system for communicating effectively with workers and in a language they understand.
- Educate and train workers on your COVID-19 policies and procedures using accessible formats and in a language they understand.
- Instruct workers who are infected or potentially infected to stay home and isolate or quarantine.
- Minimize the negative impact of quarantine and isolation on workers.
- Isolating workers who show symptoms at work.
- Providing guidance on screening and testing:
- Recording and reporting COVID-19 infections and deaths:
- Implementing protections from retaliation and setting up an anonymous process for workers to voice concerns about COVID-19-related hazards:
- Making a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccination series available at no cost to all eligible employees.
- Not distinguishing between workers who are vaccinated and those who are not:
- Other applicable OSHA Standards: All of OSHA's standards that apply to protecting workers from infection remain in place.
Workers who have or likely have been exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine until they meet CDC guidelines for exiting quarantine.
More guidelines can be found on OSHA.gov.
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