Blog by www.osha.gov
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 who will be responsible for COVID-19 issues on the employer’s behalf.
- Identification of where and how workers might be exposed to COVID-19 at work. This includes a thorough hazard assessment to identify potential workplace hazards related to COVID-19. This assessment will be most effective if it involves workers (and their representatives) because they are often the people most familiar with the conditions they face.
- 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.This should include a combination of eliminating the hazard, engineering controls, workplace administrative policies, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other measures, prioritizing controls from most to least effective, to protect workers from COVID-19 hazards. Key examples (discussed in additional detail below) include:
In addition to these general guidelines, more specific guidance is available for certain industries.
- 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 are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Workers with disabilities may be legally entitled to “reasonable accommodations” that protect them from the risk of contracting COVID-19. Where feasible, employers should consider reasonable modifications for workers identified as high-risk who can do some or all of their work at home (part or full-time), or in less densely-occupied, better-ventilated alternate facilities or offices.