Earlier this month, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published information on novel coronavirus (COVID-19) hazard recognition, medical information, potentially applicable OSHA standards, control and prevention, and additional resources. The guidance notes that without sustained human-to-human transmission, most U.S. workers remain at low risk of exposure and infection. However, OSHA has identified commonsense practices for all workers and employers to help prevent worker exposure to COVID-19, including proper handwashing with the use of an alcohol-based rub (hand sanitizer). OSHA also cautions workers to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands and to avoid close contact with sick people. The guidance lists additional precautions for workers involved in health care, deathcare, laboratories, airline operations, border protection, and solid waste and wastewater management. OSHA’s guidance is available here.
Similarly, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (commonly known as Cal/OSHA) also recently issued guidance related to COVID-19, which is an airborne infectious disease covered by Cal/OSHA’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) standard (codified at Cal. Code Regs. tit. 8, section 5199). The ATD standard requires employers in health care facilities, laboratories, public health services, police services, and other locations where employees are reasonably anticipated to be exposed to confirmed or suspected cases of aerosol transmissible diseases, to protect workers from diseases and pathogens transmitted by aerosols and droplets. The standard requires covered employers to have an ATD Exposure Control Plan that includes procedures to identify COVID-19 cases, descriptions of control measures, and procedures to communicate with employees, among other things. Covered employers must also provide COVID-19 training to employees, including information related to the signs and symptoms, modes of transmission, methods to prevent exposure, and personal protective equipment. Cal/OSHA’s guidance is available here.