What Is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Coronaviruses are a group of related viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. In humans, coronaviruses cause respiratory tract infections that are typically mild, such as some cases of the common cold (among other possible causes, predominantly rhinoviruses), though rarer forms can be lethal, such as SARS, MERS, and COVID-19. (From Wikipedia)
On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan, China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease.There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused be a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. (From the CDC’s Coronavirus FAQ)
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General Guidance & Best Practices
- It is critical that individuals NOT report to work while they are experiencing illness symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, body aches, chills, or fatigue.
- Individuals should seek medical attention if they develop these symptoms.
- Create habit to not touch one’s face and cover when coughing/sneezing
- Disinfect common surfaces regularly such as: tables, door handles, handrails, desk, etc.
- Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%-95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
- Increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning
- Do not host large group meetings. CDC recommends that we avoid gatherings of 10+ people; and when meeting, that we keep a 6-foot distance between people. Perform meetings online or via conference call whenever possible.
- To limit the number of people on a jobsite, allow non-essential personnel to work from home when possible.
- Stop Handshaking, use other methods of greetings
Jobsite / Office Practices:
- Stop Handshaking, use other methods of greetings
- Increase cleaning of office spaces
- Plan for office staff to have the ability to work from home.
- Use other means of meetings when possible (examples: Skype, Facetime, Zoom, etc.)
- Limit the amount of travel for employees during this time
- Encourage frequent hand washing and disinfectant of workspaces.
- Limit food sharing
- If employees are feeling sick or have a sick family member at home; ask them to work from home
- Communicate key CDC recommendations (and post signage where appropriate) to your staff and tradespeople:
- Place posters that encourage staying home when sick, cough and sneeze etiquette, and hand hygiene at the entrance to your workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen.
- Supervisors should ask the following questions to all employees prior to entering the jobsite. If they answer “yes” to any, they should be asked to leave the jobsite immediately. Anyone asked to leave should not return to work until 24-hours after they are free from a fever or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medication.
- Have you, or anyone in your family, been in contact with a person that has tested positive for COVID- 19?
- Have you, or anyone in your family, been in contact with a person that is in the process of being tested for COVID-19?
- Have you, or anyone in your family traveled outside of the U.S. within the last two weeks?
- Have you been medically directed to self-quarantine due to possible exposure to COVID-19?
- Are you having trouble breathing or have you had flu-like symptoms within the past 48 hours, including: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, body aches, chills, or fatigue?
- Instruct employees to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60- 95% alcohol or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
- Provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained. Place hand rubs in multiple locations or in conference rooms to encourage hand hygiene.
- Do not congregate in lunch areas.
- Do not share tools or any multi-user devices and accessories such as iPads, laptops, hand-held radios, computer stations, etc.
- Limit the exchange/sharing of paper documents by encouraging use of electronic communication whenever possible.
- Do not share personal protection equipment (PPE).
- Sanitize reusable PPE per manufacturer’s recommendation prior to each use.
- Ensure used PPE is disposed of properly.
- Utilize disposable gloves where appropriate; instruct workers to wash hands after removing gloves.
- Disinfect reusable supplies and equipment.
- Identify specific locations and practices for daily trash such as: paper, hand towels, food containers, etc. Instruct workers responsible for trash removal in proper PPE/hand washing practices.
- Provide routine environmental cleaning (doorknobs, keyboards, counters, and other surfaces).
- Do not use a common water cooler. Provide individual water bottles or instruct workers to bring their own.
- Utilize shoe sanitation tubs (non-bleach sanitizer solution) prior to entering/leaving jobsite).
- Instruct workers to change work clothes prior to arriving home; and to wash clothes in hot water with laundry sanitizer.
- Don’t stack trades if possible.
- Utilize disposable hand towels and no-touch trash receptacles.
- Request additional/increased sanitation (disinfecting) of portable toilets.
- Avoid cleaning techniques, such as using pressurized air or water sprays that may result in the generation of bioaerosols.
- Clean surfaces of service/fleet vehicles, steering wheel, gear shift, instrument panels, etc.; use aerosol sanitizers inside closed cabs.
- Regarding shuttling employees, ensure distancing and encourage workers to provide their own transportation where possible.
Managing Sick Employees
- Actively encourage sick employees to stay home. Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not return to work until they are free of fever (100.4° F [38.0° C] or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants). Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
- Separate sick employees. CDC recommends that employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately.
- Communicate your company’s Human Resources practices for managing sick time related to COVID-19.
OSHA COVID-19 Recordability
As explained on OSHA’s COVID-19 Standards page, “COVID-19 can be a recordable illness if a worker is infected as a result of performing their work-related duties. However, employers are only responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if all of the following are met:
- The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19 (see CDC information on persons under investigation and presumptive positive and laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19);
- The case is work-related, as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and
- The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR 1904.7 (e.g. medical treatment beyond first-aid, days away from work).”
Helpful Online Resources
- Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19
- Interim Guidance for Businesses & Employers
- What You Need to Know About COVID-19 (One-page PDF)
- What to Do if You Are Sick with COVID-19 (One-page PDF)
- CDC: COVID-19 Risk Assessment & Management Planning Flow Chart (PDF)
- CDC Guidance: Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19
- CDC: Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Been Exposed to COVID-19
- OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
- OSHA Standards for COVID-19
- Worker Exposure Risk to COVID-19
- DOL: Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employer Paid Leave Requirements
- OSHA Enforcement Guidance for Use of Respiratory Protection Equipment Certified under Standards of Other Countries or Jurisdictions
- Expanded Temporary Enforcement Guidance on Respiratory Protection Fit-Testing for N95 Filtering Facepieces in All Industries During COVID Pandemic
- DOL Reminds Employers That They Cannot Retaliate Against Workers Reporting Unsafe Conditions During Coronavirus Pandemic
- OSHA Announces Interim Enforcement Response Plan for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19
- OSHA Enforcement Guidance for Recording Cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)