OSHA released it updated Guidance, Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 last week. (https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf). The Guidance does not create new legal obligations for employers but, rather provides practical advice on measures we can take to limit the risk of exposure and infection for our employees and how to respond if an employee does become ill.
The Guidance identifies a range of levels of risk exposure: Very High – for those employees with a high potential for exposure, such as doctors or healthcare personnel who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients – to Lower Exposure Risk – workplaces which do not involve frequent contact with the public or COVID-19 patients. For each level of risk exposure, the Guidance details the steps we can implement to best manage the risk of exposure.
As a starting point, OSHA recommends that all employers develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan that complies with the latest Guidance. This will include encouraging employees to use proper hygiene practices and encouraging (requiring) sick employees to remain at home.
The Guidance is not the law or mandatory, but it is a useful tool to use in navigating through this pandemic.
Written By: Jerry L. Stovall, Jr.