As COVID-19 infections continue to swell across the country, employers are becoming increasingly concerned with managing the risk of workplace infection. While not all workers are exposed to the same level of threat, understanding where your general industry and specific business falls can help you plan how to most effectively protect your employees.
A Tool for Evaluating Exposure Risk
The week, OSHA released a worker exposure risk classification tool that breaks down the likelihood of workplace infection into four risk categories: very high, high, medium, and low. This tool breaks down risk by industry based on the likelihood of exposure to infected individuals and the frequency of close person-to-person contact.
As you might suspect, the very high-risk occupations are those in the healthcare and deathcare fields who have close contact with individuals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections. High-risk occupations include workers in these same two industries with less direct contact with those infected, working in roles like medical transport or other support services. Those at medium risk involve jobs with a high density of coworkers or customers. This involves occupations in high-volume retail settings like grocery stores, schools, or construction sites where close contact is unavoidable. Most workers will fall into the last group, the low-risk category. Low-risk occupations include those working in office and clerical, public sector, as well as most construction settings.
Create a Comprehensive Plan
Assessing the potential risk of infection makes it easier to most effectively create a comprehensive plan for protecting your workers. Instituting new workplace policy and procedures involving social distancing measures, providing protective barriers or PPE as needed, and modified scheduling can all be tools employers use to protect workers during this challenging time.
See OSHA’s in-depth resource that provides guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19.