11.10.2020

OSHA Guidance for Workplace Safety During a Pandemic

Workplace safety has always been important. But when COVID-19 restrictions began, employers had to focus even more on keeping workers safe. As businesses begin to reopen, the focus on workplace safety during a pandemic is still important. We can refer to the OSHA guidelines to see how critical it is.

Understanding COVID-19 and Workplace Safety

By this point, we all know what COVID-19 is, whether you call it COVID or coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2. We have seen the death rates and may even know someone who has tested positive. Many people will have mild symptoms, but it is still best to avoid exposure if at all possible.

It’s challenging to discuss workplace safety in broad terms. Some jobs are at a higher risk of exposure than others. However, using OSHA guidance, we can get a good picture of how employers and business owners should be protecting their workers and customers.

Develop a Plan to Promote Workplace Safety During a Pandemic

It could all start with a plan. Your company has other plans for emergencies, so why not create a plan that includes pandemic-related information. Protocols can be tailored to your particular industry.

Use Basic Infection Prevention Measures

Here are some ways that might help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and improve workplace safety:

  • Promote frequent hand washing.
  • Provide hand sanitizer, tissues, and nearby trash cans.
  • Tell workers to stay home if they are sick, especially if they have coronavirus symptoms.
  • Promote social distancing.
  • Request or even provide face masks.
  • Allow employees to telecommute when possible.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces frequently.

Know How to Identify and Isolate Sick People

Encourage employees to self-monitor, but also train supervisors to notice signs of COVID-19 infection. If you suspect a worker is ill, move them to an isolated room as soon as possible. Limit or restrict contact with other employees. Also, advise anyone who has worked with the infected employee to get tested or self-quarantine.

Employers Should Consider Workplace Flexibilities and Protections

Sometimes just getting employees out of the office can help stop the spread of the disease. Telecommuting has become common, with technology helping ease the transition. Many meetings can be held through online platforms like Zoom instead of gathering together in-person in a conference room.

Companies need to be extra aware of employee concerns about:

  • Taking care of children who attend virtual schools.
  • Sick leave, PTO, and vacation policies.
  • Staying home to care for a sick family member or to self-quarantine.

Implement Workplace Controls for Workplace Safety

Some companies may not be in a position to eliminate the risk of exposure completely. OSHA suggests using the following control methods to ensure workplace safety during a pandemic:

  • Engineering controls, including increasing air quality and installing physical guards between employees and customers.
  • Administrative controls, like alternating shifts, reducing the number of employees, discontinuing business travel, training workers to use protective equipment and clothing.
  • Safety work practices, like promoting personal hygiene and using hand sanitizers.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), like gloves, face shields, masks, and respirators.

Employers Should Follow Existing OSHA Standards

OSHA already promotes workplace safety. Business owners and employers can continue complying with current regulations as they learn to implement newer guidelines.

It’s Crucial to Understand the OSHA Guidance for Workplace Safety Now More Than Ever

Some workers might be injured because their employer did not follow OSHA guidelines. If so, you might have a workers’ compensation claim.

The process for filing and receiving approval of workers’ compensation claims in Pennsylvania is complicated. Claimants are required to provide a long list of information in the form of medical records and other necessary documentation. This information must be collected, organized, and presented within certain procedures and deadlines. Powell Law has represented injured workers for 115 years and has a distinguished reputation throughout northeastern Pennsylvania for adhering to the highest standards in serving those injured on the job. Contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE, and you don’t pay unless we win!

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