It’s probably what many of you have been waiting for: OSHA has issued guidance, all in one document, on returning employees to the workplace safely.
OSHA recommends a 3-phase approach:
- Phase 1: Make telework available when possible. Limit the number of people in the workplace to maintain strict social distancing. Accommodate workers at higher risk of severe illness, including those older than 60 or who have serious underlying health conditions. Extend accommodations to workers with household members at higher risk of severe illness. Non-essential business travel should be limited.
- Phase 2: Continue to make telework available where possible. Non-essential business travel can resume. Limitations on the number of people in the workplace can be eased. However, moderate to strict social distancing should continue. Continue to accommodate vulnerable workers as described in Phase 1.
- Phase 3: Resume unrestricted staffing at work sites.
One major goal
OSHA says the goal is to prevent a resurgence of coronavirus cases. Such a resurgence could lead to increases in the number of sick employees, more contact tracing of people who visited a workplace, enhanced cleaning and disinfection, or even a temporary closure of the business.
When do you re-open? OSHA says reopening should coincide with lifting of stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders and other specific requirements of the federal, state or local governments.
The recommendations include nine guiding principles:
- Hazard assessment: Determine how employees might be exposed to the coronavirus.
- Hygiene: Encourage hand washing, use of hand sanitizer and target high-traffic areas for enhanced cleaning and disinfecting.
- Social distancing: Limit business occupancy, mark flooring for social distancing, post signs to remind workers to maintain six feet between one another.
- Identification and isolation of sick employees: Ask employees to evaluate themselves for coronavirus symptoms and establish a protocol for managing people who become ill in the workplace.
- Return to work after illness or exposure: Follow CDC guidance for discontinuing self-quarantine and ensure workers who’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19 receive monitoring.
- Controls: Use physical barriers/shields, increase ventilation, stagger work shifts, replace in-person meetings with video-conferencing, and ensure workers wear cloth face masks.
- Workplace flexibilities: Consider new or revised policies on telework and sick leave, and let employees know the options available to them.
- Training: Provide training about properly wearing cloth face masks in the workplace and all your policies and actions to prevent coronavirus infections.
- Anti-retaliation: Ensure workers understand no adverse or retaliatory actions will be taken against them for raising workplace safety and health concerns, including those about the coronavirus.
The guide includes FAQs covering worksite testing and temperature checks.
Click here to access OSHA’s Guidance on Returning to Work document.