The toll that COVID-19 has taken on America has been a steep one. With over 400,000 dead and millions out of work, this pandemic is testing the resilience of US companies and the labor force that supports them.
In an effort to better protect workers from the dangers the virus poses in the workplace, OSHA has recently issued stricter, more thorough guidance for employers.This newly released information contains actionable steps that companies can take to fulfill their legal obligation to provide employees with a safe and healthy work environment that’s free from known hazards. Here are the key takeaways.
Designate a COVID-19 safety lead
Appoint someone in your company who’ll be responsible for all COVID-19 related safety issues. This person will lead the development and implementation of safe workplace initiatives.
Conduct a COVID-19 hazard assessment
With input from workers, complete a company-specific hazard assessment that seeks to identify ways workers could be exposed at work.
Pinpoint actionable way to limit COVID-19 spread
Slowing the spread of COVID-19 at work involves more than just providing and enforcing the use of PPE. A variety of measures including engineering controls like improving ventilation, administrative policies like isolating employees who show symptoms at work, and routine cleaning and disinfecting can have a direct impact on limiting workplace spread.
Implement supportive policies for vulnerable employees
Workers who are older or have complex health issues are more likely to become severely ill if they are infected with COVID-19. When possible, offer them the ability to work remotely or in a part of the building with fewer people or better ventilation.
Establish clear policies for isolating when ill
Create company policies that stress the importance that workers isolate at home if they are displaying symptoms of COVID-19. Providing access to paid sick leave can increase the chances that those who are feeling ill won’t come to work just because they can’t afford not to.
Enforce strict safety policies in place, even for vaccinated employees
Requiring the use of face masks and social distancing remains important for everyone in the company, even after they’re vaccinated. Those who have been vaccinated, while protected from illness, can still spread the virus to others.
OSHA’s Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace offers a wealth of information on how employers can limit the spread of the virus at work and fulfill their obligation to protect their people while on the job.
If your company could use assistance with developing a COVID-19 safety program, or help with growing an existing safety program and culture, give us a call at (864) 979-6676 to learn more.