OSHA is assessing and responding to numerous complaints about employee protection from the spread of COVID-19. In an effort to keep everyone informed, OSHA has launched a website that provides information on prevention of COVID-19, specifically for employers and workers. The website is being updated as more information is learned about the virus and spread of same.
While there is no specific OSHA standard to address COVID-19, there are general standards (Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Bloodborne Pathogens) that are relevant to protecting workers from the spread of COVID-19. This is a good time to review your policies and to make sure you are operating in compliance with your policies to minimize the spread of the virus.
In addition, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace, free of recognized hazards. As such, employers must stay informed of the risks associated with COVID-19 and address any known hazards. It is advisable to develop a COVID-19 plan to address hazards and implement precautions at the worksite. This may include but is not limited to restrictions on travel, allowing for increased worker absenteeism, options for working remotely, staggered shifts, etc. There is no specific requirement for any of these measures, and each employer must assess its workplace and workforce and implement a plan that protects its workers.
One final but important note: While colds and flu are generally exempt from recordability, COVID-19 is a recordable illness when a worker is infected on the job.