Pandemic Preparedness & Coronavirus Workplace Safety
Over the last few months, the news has been filled with updates on the COVID-19 virus, more commonly known as “Coronavirus”. People in the United States and around the world are getting sick and even dying from the virus. Concerts, classes, sporting events and vacation plans are all being cancelled, and parts of the world are even on lock-down. As safety professionals, it is our responsibility to understand what OSHA is doing to help employers prevent the spread of health issues like the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
What Exactly is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
The official name of the virus is “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease that it causes is called “Coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated to COVID-19). The COVID-19 virus belongs to a much larger umbrella of Coronaviruses that are common in humans, camels, bovines, felines, and bats. It is rare for a Coronavirus to transmit between an animal and a human. In recent history we have seen the MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. All three of these Coronaviruses have been found to have origins with bats. The COVID-19 outbreak originated in the Wuhan town located in the Hubei province of China. (CDC, 2020)
Coronavirus Prevention Tips for Employers
- Do your own research. Keep up with the news on the Coronavirus issues in your area and check with the experts by visiting the CDC’s website.
- Inform employees. Let your team know that you are following the news on the Coronavirus, forward this preventative tip flyer from the CDC, and take any reasonable measures you can to help prevent COVID-19. Provide them with a Pandemic Preparedness Plan and Training. Call Lancaster Safety at 888-403-6026 for more information.
- Encourage sick employees to stay at home. Having your team members stay at home when they’re sick shouldn’t be anything new but it is worth emphasizing. Sometimes employees don’t want to use their sick days or PTO and show up to work when they should have stayed at home – this is no time to push it! If employees show up to work sick, send them home or have them work remotely if possible.
- Clean, clean, clean. Disinfect your workplace (especially frequently touched surfaces), wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, cough/sneeze into your elbow (not your hands), avoid touching your face and other surfaces where germs are likely to spread.
- Advise employees before traveling. The CDC has a dedicated webpage for travelers. This webpage allows people to research the area they are traveling to and offers recommendations and guidelines accordingly.
Is There A COVID-19 OSHA Regulation?
OSHA does not have a specific COVID-19 regulation, but keeping employees safe from COVID-19 does fall under OSHA’s General Duty Clause.
Under OSHA’s General Duty Clause, employers must keep employees safe from work related safety & health issues including the Coronavirus. Applicable standards also include PPE, Eye and Face Protection, Hand Protection, and Respiratory Protection standards. OSHA is advising employers to provide training to all workers with reasonably anticipated occupational exposure to COVID-19.
As enacted by 29 U.S.C. 651 (listed as 15 U.S.C. 651 in the Paycheck Protection Plan application) – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can require businesses to modify facilities and procedures to protect their employees. In order to apply for the Paycheck Protection Plan, employers must certify that they are in compliance with OSHA, to the best of their knowledge.
Be OSHA Ready With A Pandemic Preparedness Plan
Employers will want to treat COVID-19 with the same attention as any other safety and health hazard that may be found at their establishments. Lancaster Safety’s team has developed a Pandemic Preparedness Program that employers can implement immediately. By providing employees with a Pandemic Preparedness Program & Training, employers are showing the leadership that’s necessary in order to reduce the impact this pandemic has on our society, play a key role in lessening the spread of the virus, and protect their employees.
Our Pandemic Preparedness Plan will cover the following information:
- Pandemic preparedness overview
- Employer and employee responsibilities
- Hazard recognition and exposure
- Workplace safety controls
- Procedures for identifying and isolation of potentially infectious employees
- Employee training and documentation
It is no surprise that some contractors are already requiring this program before work may be done on a job. Contact us today to get a Pandemic Preparedness Plan for your workplace!