OSHA guidelines for protecting returning employees from COVID-19

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.

Post Pandemic Learning Engagement Roadmap for 2023 and beyond.

When the pandemic first hit, many organizations were scrambling to figure out how to keep their employees learning and developing despite the disruptions. Many turned to online videos as a way to keep employees engaged in learning.

Now that we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s time to take a look at how we can learn and develop in the post-pandemic world. Here are a few ideas:

1. Use videos to deliver just-in-time training.

In the past, employees might have been sent to off-site training courses that were expensive and time-consuming. With videos, you can provide employees with training on demand, whenever they need it. This is especially helpful for employees who are working remotely.

2. Create microlearning videos.

With attention spans shorter than ever, it’s important to keep learning videos short and to the point. Microlearning videos are a great way to do this. They can be used to deliver bite-sized pieces of information that employees can easily digest.

3. Make use of video analytics.

With video analytics, you can track who is watching your videos and how long they are watching for. This information can be used to improve the content of your videos and ensure that employees are getting the most out of them.

4. Use videos to promote social learning.

Videos can be used to facilitate social learning, which is when employees learn from each other. This can be done by creating videos that show employees working together to solve problems or by sharing video testimonials from employees about their experiences with a certain product or service.

5. Use videos to create a learning community.

A learning community is a group of employees who share a common interest in learning. You can use videos to create a learning community by sharing videos that employees can discuss and provide feedback on. This is a great way to create an environment where employees can learn from and support each other.

CircleHD is the perfect enterprise video learning platform for businesses who want to provide their employees with the best possible learning and development opportunities. Our platform is easy to use and provides access to a wide range of video content that can be used for training, development, and education purposes. We also offer a variety of features that make our platform the perfect solution for businesses of all sizes.

If you’d like to learn more about how CircleHD can help support your sales training and team enablement efforts, we’d love to speak with you. Get in touch here.

How to Get More from Your Customer and Partner Training

When it comes to scaling your business, customer and partner training should be at the forefront of your mind. Your company can have the greatest product or service around but it won’t matter if the learning curve is so steep that adoption is difficult.

Once upon a time, writing an absurdly large manual, coupled with a week-long, on-site seminar was the way customer and partner training was conducted. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to easily understand why this method is ineffective, difficult to scale and prohibitively expensive. 

Providing adequate training for your partners and customers is the first line of defense against lost business and it has been shown time and time again to reduce churn. Today’s next-gen enterprises are taking new approaches to increase knowledge retention and cut down on the time it takes for customers and partners to become familiar with their product. Webinars, consulting sessions, and seminars are all popular choices but more and more companies are turning to Learning Management Systems (LMS). 

At first glance, these platforms may seem to have all the bells and whistles your organization needs but, in truth, an LMS may not always be the best fit for information that needs to be shared with an external audience. 

A Bit About Learning Management Systems (LMS)

LMS have a long history of being used for higher education and was built with students in mind, rather than customers. Most systems are designed to be used internally to deliver training modules to the users and while they do provide tracking and quizzing capabilities, it can make things for your customers difficult for a number of reasons. 

Your Customers Are Not Your Students

LMS was instrumental in bringing the offline college experience online and allowed instructors to digitize courses, course catalogs, and other instructor-led materials. But “time is money” and with ever-shortening attention spans, businesses no longer have the wherewithal to handle long, complicated training sessions before the product becomes useful to them. 

In an increasingly online world, people have turned to platforms like YouTube when they need to learn a new skill or want help with a certain product feature. Instead of wasting time to search for the appropriate training module, people can simply search for what they need, click to watch the content, and get on with their day. 

Long Implementation Times

Implementing an LMS at your organization comes with a significant investment in cost, time and potential disruption to your organization. Assuming you already have the resources available, an LMS can take 6-12 months to implement. You’ll have to account for:

  • Planning 
  • Project management
  • Configuration
  • Reporting
  • Systems integration

If you don’t already have content, curriculum structures, evaluations, assessments, and competencies available, you’ll need to spend extra time putting all that information together. Designing a course alone can take up to six weeks or longer, adding additional stress and down-time in your organization. 

Not only will you need to assign specific team members to take on extra work, but those people may end up wearing many different hats, which can lead to burnout and wear down engagement. It’s very likely that you may need to hire additional help, adding extra cost to the tab. 

Poor User Experience

Even if you do get through the implementation process with your LMS, there’s a high probability that your hurdles won’t end there. According to a study by Brandon Hall Group, only 33% of LMS users say they’re satisfied with their current system, and “poor user experience” is cited as the biggest reason why.

The problem is so widespread, it’s been estimated by Capterra that “as many as 80% of LMS implementations fail because leadership doesn’t make UX their top priority when evaluating systems.”

A few ways LMS usually comes up short in the user-experience area include:

  • Nightmare navigation
  • Lack of personalization
  • Inaccurate labeling and tagging
  • Annoying pop-ups
  • 15+ clicks before you can start learning
  • Video not supported natively
  • Complicated SCORM training requires multiple toolchains

Of all these UX issues, there is one, in particular, that should be singled out if you’re considering LMS for partner and customer training; There have been many reports of these platforms being difficult to update with new content, which means you’d be training customers and partners on outdated features and information. Ouch!

Subpar Mobile Experience

There’s no doubt that mobile devices touch every single part of our daily life. The average person spends 2 hours and 51 minutes per day on their mobile device. Since mobile has surpassed desktop as the primary way to access the internet and 89% of that time is spent on apps, it’s critical that your content be optimized for smartphones. If it’s not, your end-user experience will suffer and create additional barriers to adoption. 

Not only do many LMS lack dedicated mobile apps and browser compatibility, but there are plenty of vendors still using fixed and fluid mobile layouts instead of responsive ones which allow information to be wrapped and scaled based on a user’s screen size (Hot tip: if you’re reading this on your mobile device, you’re seeing an example of a responsive layout). 
What customers and partners need in an on-the-go, globally-connected world is the ability to access knowledge from their phone at a time that’s convenient for them. Mobile-optimized training allows content to be reached quickly and increases overall user satisfaction. 

Security Issues

Many traditional LMS systems require users to access training from a computer in the company’s office, and only on the company’s local network making this solution a logistical nightmare for anyone outside of your organization. Some content is exclusive to your partners, some is for the public. As such, it’s important that you can send information to certain individuals or groups using an access control feature–one many LMS don’t have.

Even if these systems allowed you to share information with your partners and customers, the chances that the information would be properly secured is pretty low.  High-profile data breaches and confidentiality leaks have become the new norm and many LMS lack even the most basic of security protocols. 

An example of this can be seen in the rise of videos in training: Many LMS vendors have antiquated support and are still using programs like Flash Player, which has major security flaws and can leave sensitive information more exposed to would-be attackers looking to exploit vulnerabilities. Definitely something you don’t want to risk at your organization.

Weak Analytics

In order to understand the impact your customer and partner training is having, robust analytics and reporting are essential. Most LMS are extremely limited in their ability to provide the insights leaders need: these systems might provide stats on quiz scores and number of users who completed a module, they don’t give you data that would help you understand:

  • What content is being accessed
  • When content is being accessed 
  • How often the content is accessed
  • Who is viewing it and for how long
  • Where additional training may be needed

Best Practices for Successful Partner and Customer Training

When you offer your partners and customers education, you’re empowering them to get the most out of your product. At the end of the day, Learning Management Systems are not designed for this use. You will be much happier if you find a solution that is focused on securely delivering training to external populations. 

When considering a customer and training program, there are a few steps and best practices you should follow:

Consider Your Strategy

Think clearly about the goals of your training program and who it’s meant to serve. You’ll want to begin by collecting information from different departments: Tap into your sales, marketing and customer service teams, as they’ll likely have some intel on common customer pain points and topics they’re interested in.

Establish KPIs

It’s all well and good to have a strategy for your training program, but you’ll also need to have a clear picture of what success looks like from an analytical perspective. Measurable goals will help you accurately evaluate your training program and keep the team on track.

Create Easily Consumed Content

Like many other functions in the business enterprise (we’re looking at you, marketing), content is king. But it’s not enough to just build the content, it also needs to be compelling and engaging. Be sure to:

  • Keep It Short: From course length to sentence structures, keep as much as you can brief and concise. 30 minutes should be the maximum amount of time it takes to get through a training section. If you’re able to, 3-5 minute “micro-learning” modules can be a great knowledge builder for customers who are constantly on-the-go or who are strapped for time. If you have a more complex topic to cover, consider breaking it down over several sessions.
  • Add a Human Element: Whether they’re accessing training from behind a computer or via their mobile device, your customers are still human. Write content like you would express it in a formal classroom session. Keep your sessions engaging by saying no to buzzwords and telling relevant stories or anecdotes.

  • Embrace Non-Traditional Content Types: According to Forrester Research, people are 75% more likely to watch a video than to read documents, emails, or web articles. And no wonder since the human brain processes video 60,000 times faster than it does text. Not only is this format more engaging for the end user, but retention levels rise to an impressive 65%.

“Non-traditional content” doesn’t need to stop at video, though. Many companies are also successfully using podcasts to engage their workforce, customers and partners. And since listening is more of a passive action than watching a video or reading, it’s much easier to do while multitasking or on-the-go

Choose Your Solution

The solution you choose can make or break the success of your customer and partner training. As mentioned, LMS isn’t a great solution for an external-facing program so you should look for something that allows you to:

  • Store content on an intuitive, interactive platform, rather than folder-based file storage
  • Decide whether content should be shared with one person or multiple people and set appropriate access controls
  • Share content securely, even if it’s outside of your organization
  • Support multiple types of text, video, slide, and podcasting modules in one place
  • Integrate the system seamlessly with your existing tech stack
  • Take advantage of robust security features like SSO and encryption in transit/at rest
  • Use advanced search capabilities
  • Access an extensive analytics suite 

CircleHD provides an all-in-one secure system that can centralize your internal resources, external customer training, and gated partner content on a singular platform. Not only does CircleHD grant you complete control over every piece of your training program, it also integrates with systems your company is likely already using such as Hubspot, Marketo, Google Analytics, and Salesforce. 

Help Everyone Get With the Program

Putting together an effective customer training program is easier when you get support from other parts of your organization. You’ve already brought other teams on board to provide intel in step one, so be sure to tap into those resources for further information.

Be sure to link your training to customers and partners when they are onboarding and add links in any and success emails. Your sales and support teams can also help you identify any problem areas, which you can use to develop new content. 

Measure Success

As with any organizational initiative, strategy should never be static. You should always be evolving to meet the needs of your audience and adjust your program to provide more value. A robust analytics suite will give you insight into what modules are most popular, what users may be struggling with and what features you may want to develop more content around. 

Using a strategic approach to training can keep your partners and customers on the same page and driving results is simple. By shrugging off LMS you open your enterprise up to creating a modern customer and partner enablement program that will help you improve your product, increase satisfaction, and grow your bottom line. 


Do you want to learn how CircleHD can power up your enterprise with more effective partner and customer training? We’d love to hear from you