Many employers have asked employees to return to work. As the COVID-19 pandemic still continues to evolve, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a new mandate for employers. The COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requires employers to take steps to protect and minimize the impact to workers from exposure to the virus. This is a general summary of guidelines that should not be considered as medical advice.
The ETS includes provisions for engineering and administrative controls, personal protective equipment, and medical surveillance. Employers must also develop and implement a written COVID-19 exposure control plan.
The ETS is effective immediately and will remain in effect until the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. OSHA will continue to monitor the situation and update the ETS as necessary.
The guidelines for employers to develop and implement an effective COVID-19 exposure control plan are as follows:
1. Assess the workplace and identify potential sources of exposure to COVID-19.
2. Identify and implement engineering and administrative controls to minimize exposure.
3. Implement personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines.
4. Establish and maintain a respiratory protection program.
5. Implement work practice and hygiene controls.
6. Educate and train employees on the exposure control plan.
7. Monitor compliance with the exposure control plan.
8. Evaluate the effectiveness of the exposure control plan and make modifications as needed.
Here are some most frequently asked questions
1.Is COVID-19 vaccine mandatory by OSHA. Since when and how to enforce it?
There is no federal mandate from OSHA (as of January 2023) requiring employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19. However, some states and localities have adopted their own mandates. Employers may require employees to be vaccinated as a condition of employment.
Note: The influenza vaccine has been mandatory by OSHA since 1980. The vaccine must be administered annually.
2. What is OSHA doing to protect workers from exposure to COVID-19?
There is currently no specific OSHA standard for protecting workers from exposure to COVID-19. However, OSHA’s existing personal protective equipment (PPE) standards require employers to provide workers with PPE to protect them from workplace hazards, such as respiratory infections. In addition, OSHA has published guidance on protecting workers from exposure to COVID-19, which recommends that employers take steps to protect workers from exposure, such as implementing engineering and administrative controls, providing PPE, and establishing and maintaining a respiratory protection program.
3. What are the guidelines for employers to protect their workers from COVID-19?
There are many guidelines employers can follow to protect their workers from COVID-19. Some of these guidelines include:
-Encouraging workers to stay home if they are sick
-Encouraging workers to wash their hands often
-Encouraging workers to avoid touching their face
-Encouraging workers to cough or sneeze into their elbow
-Encouraging workers to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
-Providing workers with personal protective equipment (PPE)
-Encouraging workers to practice social distancing
4. What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
This is a developing topic due to the mutating nature of the virus and new variants continue to evolve. Best to redirect employees to official recommendations from CDC here
5. What should workers do if they think they have been exposed to COVID-19?
Best to redirect employees to call the medical provider for any symptoms that are severe or concerning.
6. What should employers do if they have workers who have been exposed to COVID-19?
If employers have workers who have been exposed to COVID-19, they should have them self-isolate and get tested for the virus. Follow CDC guidelines and seek attention from the medical provider.
7. What are the guidelines for employers to clean and disinfect their workplaces? What are the guidelines for workers to protect themselves from COVID-19?
The CDC has released a series of guidelines for employers to clean and disinfect their workplaces. The guidelines include:
1. Identifying and cleaning high-touch surfaces regularly.
2. Encouraging employees to clean their workstations and equipment.
3. Providing employees with the proper cleaning supplies.
4. Implementing proper ventilation in the workplace.
5. Monitoring employee health and providing prompt medical attention if needed.
8. What are the guidelines for workers to protect themselves from COVID-19?
9. What are the guidelines for employers to provide personal protective equipment to their workers?
OSHA requires employers to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to their workers if the workers are exposed to hazards that could cause injury or death. PPE includes items such as gloves, safety glasses, and earplugs
10. What are the guidelines for employers to conduct health and safety training for their workers?
OSHA has established guidelines for employers to conduct health and safety training for their workers. The guidelines include the following topics:
• Health and safety hazards in the workplace
• Safe work practices
• Personal protective equipment
• Emergency procedures
The guidelines for employers to develop and implement an effective COVID-19 exposure control plan
The first step is to create or update your exposure control plan. This should include a list of all job tasks and corresponding exposure risks. Once you have identified the tasks and risks, you need to determine how to eliminate or minimize the exposure. This may include implementing engineering controls, work practice controls, and personal protective equipment. Once you have determined the controls, you need to train your employees on how to properly use them.
Educate and train employees on how to properly use personal protective equipment
Educate and train employees on how to safely work with and around bloodborne pathogens and how to clean up.
Educate and train employees on how to safely dispose of contaminated materials
Educate and train employees on how to safely handle and dispose of needles and sharps
Educate and train employees on the importance of getting vaccinated against hepatitis B
Educate and train employees on the importance of reporting any exposure to bloodborne pathogens
Educate and train employees on the importance of following the exposure control plan.
There is no proven method to effectively train employees about COVID-19 prevention. The commonly used measures include using clear and concise communication, providing employees with opportunities to ask questions and receive feedback, and using a variety of training methods (such as online resources, in-person training, and hands-on demonstrations) to cater to different learning styles.
We wish you and your employees a very happy new year and look forward to having a successful return to work. If are looking for a platform to train employees, please checkout CircleHD.com
If you’d like to learn more about how CircleHD can help support your training and team enablement efforts, we’d love to speak with you. Get in touch here.