As more workplaces begin to reopen, OSHA is reminding employers that worker safety remains a priority amid both coronavirus and common workplace hazards.
In all phases of reopening, employers need to plan for potential hazards related to the coronavirus, as well as those stemming from routine workplace processes. Employers should be aware that the pandemic might increase employee stress, fatigue and distractions and should consider these factors in planning their employees’ return to work to ensure operations resume in a safe and healthful manner. Employers should also carefully plan before attempting to increase production or tasks to make up for downtime to avoid exposing employees to additional safety and health hazards.
As part of their reopening plans, OSHA recommends employers provide workers with “refreshers” on safety and health training and address maintenance issues they may have deferred during a shutdown. Employers should also revisit and update standard operating procedures and remember that exposures to hazards may increase during shutdown and start-up periods.
OSHA is providing coronavirus-related guidance to help employers develop policies and procedures that address the following issues:
- Workplace flexibilities
- Engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment
- Training workers on the signs, symptoms and risk factors associated with the coronavirus
- Basic hygiene and housekeeping practices
- Social distancing practices
- Identifying and isolating sick workers
- Return to work after worker illness or exposure
This guidance is intended to accompany the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ previously developed Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 and the White House Guidelines for Opening up America Again.