The US Department Of Labor (DOL) issued new coronavirus guidelines and more robust COVID-19 workplace guidance to help employers maintain workplace safety amid the pandemic. The new DOL OSHA guidance aims to mitigate and prevent a COVID-19 outbreak at the workplace.
The new worker safety guidance emphasizes a workplace-specific coronavirus prevention program to identify those at risk of exposure and outbreak. Like Cal-OSHA’s newest workplace COVID-19 Prevention Program, the DOL’s guidelines aim to protect workers and create a safe and healthful workplace.
DOL’s updated guidance and recommendations will help employers address health and safety and issues in the workplace. The newest OSHA guidelines will assist employers in providing a safe and healthful work environment. Implementing a workplace coronavirus prevention program is the most effective way of protecting workers and avoid workplace COVID-19 outbreaks.
COVID-19 Prevention Program:
Employers should create and implement a new and robust COVID-19 prevention program as per the latest DOL guidelines. This program can be integrated into the existing workplace Illness and Injury Prevention Program or introduced as new guidance.
Some of the essential elements in a prevention program include:
- Workplace hazard assessment.
- Regular workplace sanitizing.
- Mandated face covering (cloth or surgical) or protective gears as needed.
- Adopt and implement policies to manage employee absence from work due to COVID-19.
- Ensuring new workplace health policies are communicated well.
- Assisting employees with COVID-19 testing.
- Develop and implement strategies to address unhealthy conditions at the workplace.
- Provide additional COVID-19 testing when deemed necessary.
- Investigate the cause of workplace outbreak and what could have contributed to the risk of COVID-19 exposure and hazards before implementing an action plan.
- Implement protection plans for workers raising coronavirus related concerns.
- Utilize a multi-language approach to communicate workplace COVID-19 prevention program policies and procedures with employees.
Managing Workplace Infection:
The new guidance details key measures for limiting coronavirus’s spread. Some of the key highlights of this guidance will include:
- Performing extensive workplace sanitizing after detection of a workplace infection.
- Ensuring infected or potentially infected people are working from home.
- Implementing and following strict physical distancing protocols at the workplace.
- Enforcing usage of surgical masks or cloth face coverings at commonly used areas.
- Promoting workplace hand hygiene, usage of personal protective equipment as deemed necessary.
- Working on improving ventilation, good hygiene, and routine cleaning.
The Roles of Employers and Employees in Responding to Workplace COVID-19:
Employers are responsible for implementing a response program to create a safe and healthy workplace free from recognized hazards and possible viral outbreak based on the new guidance.
In addition to the general guidelines, employers may work towards:
- Eliminating the potential of a workplace outbreak by sending home infected or potentially infected people from the workplace.
- Installing barriers at the workplace where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- Promoting face masks to suppress the spread of the hazards.
- Using applicable PPE to protect workers from possible exposure.
- Providing necessary supplies for good hygiene practices.
- Performing routine cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfection.
Read more about the DOL’s guidelines here.
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