The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), has released guidance associated with the COVID-19 outbreak. According to OSHA, the Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 is designed to help employers provide a safe and healthy work environment. Some key points from the guidance:
- Implement good hygiene and infection control practices, including frequent and thorough handwashing, encouraging sick workers to stay home, respiratory etiquette to cover coughs and sneezes, and regular housekeeping. Institute flexible worksites where applicable.
- Develop policies to identify and isolate those who are sick, including requiring employees to report it when they are sick or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Policies should also be developed for isolating those suspected of having the virus and protecting those who will be in close contact with a sick person for a prolonged period or repeatedly. These policies may include the use of engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and/or personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Communicate with providers of contract or temporary employees about the importance of sick employees staying home.
- Consider eliminating the requirement for employees to provide a doctor’s note to return to work, since healthcare providers may not be able to provide this documentation in a timely manner.
- Consider allowing employees to stay at home when a family member is ill.
- Implement engineering controls to reduce exposure, such as high-efficiency air filters, increased ventilation, physical barriers (such as plastic sneeze guards), drive-through windows, or specialized ventilation.
- Implement administrative controls such as social distancing, adjusting shift schedules to reduce the number of employees in a facility at a given time, discontinuing nonessential travel, and training on PPE and other protective behaviors.
- Establish safe work practices including providing supplies such as tissues, no-touch trash cans, hand soap, hand sanitizers, disinfectants, and disposable towels.
- Ensure the proper PPE is accessible and employees are trained appropriately.
- Follow existing OSHA standards. All current standards remain in effect, including those for PPE and bloodborne pathogens, and the General Duty Clause, which requires all employers to provide each worker "employment and a place of employment, which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm."
- Classify risk for each employee—very high, high, medium, or low—and ensure proper controls and PPE are in place that accommodate the employee’s risk classification. OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 report can help you classify employees and evaluate necessary or suggested controls specific to each employee’s risk category.
To download OSHA's Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, visit https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf#page=9&zoom=100,65,61
Also, on March 14, OSHA released temporary guidance on healthcare respiratory protection annual fit-testing for N95 filtering facepieces. Due to the supply shortage of N95 filtering facepiece respirators, OSHA is recommending that all healthcare providers take measures to conserve supplies of respirators while safeguarding themselves. OSHA will use discretion enforcing the annual fit testing requirement, as long as employers take proper precautions. To read the full OSHA memo, visit https://www.osha.gov/memos/2020-03-14/temporary-enforcement-guidance-healthcare-respiratory-protection-annual-fit
To read more about OSHA's standards in relation to COVID-19, visit https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/standards.html.
If you have questions or would like to discuss COVID-19’s effect on you or your business, contact a member of the HBK CPAs & Consultants team.