OSHA Issues Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for Coronavirus


Bill Esler

WASHINGTON, DC – The Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published its “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19” to help companies respond in the event of coronavirus in the workplace. The guidance was developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

OSHA's PDF booklet on COVID-19 provides practical guidance for preventing the spread of COVID-19, also known as novel coronavirus, as well as best practices for a safe workplace. The booklet also describes appropriate personal protective equipment based on the risk level of exposure. 

OSHA issues such guidance as part of its charter. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

“Protecting the health and safety of America’s workforce is a key component of this Administration’s comprehensive approach to combating the coronavirus,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “This guidance outlines practical ways that employers and workers can address potential health risks from the coronavirus in their workplaces.”

The guidance is part of the Department of Labor’s ongoing efforts to educate the workers and employers about the COVID-19 outbreak. In assessing potential hazards, OSHA says employers should consider whether or not their workers may encounter someone infected with COVID-19 in the course of their duties. Employers should also determine if workers could be exposed to environments (e.g., worksites) or materials (e.g., laboratory samples, waste) contaminated with the virus.

In addition to the guidance, OSHA recently launched a COVID-19 webpage that provides infection prevention information specifically for workers and employers and is actively reviewing and responding to any complaints regarding workplace protection from novel coronavirus, as well as conducting outreach activities. 

OSHA's Wage and Hour Division is providing information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19, including effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs has also published guidance for federal employees and outlines Federal Employees’ Compensation Act coverage as it relates to the novel coronavirus. 

For further information about Coronavirus, please visit the HHS’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov.


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