Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety
IN THIS ISSUE: Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) just published a new document: “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19”.In the past, both OSHA and the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) have made similar publications during flu, ebola, SARS, and infectious disease outbreaks. OSHA developed this COVID-19 planning guidance based on traditional infection prevention and industrial hygiene practices. It focuses on the need for employers to implement engineering, administrative, and work practice controls and personal protective equipment (PPE). It provides information about what is Corona Virus is, how it originated, how it is spread, and the history of similar viruses. The guideline has sections that include:
- Develop an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan
- Prepare to Implement Basic Infection Prevention Measures
- Develop Policies and Procedures for Prompt Identification and Isolation of Sick People, if appropriate
- Develop, Implement, and Communicate about Workplace Flexibilities and Protections
- Implement Workplace Controls such as:
- Engineering Controls
- Administrative Controls
- Safe Work Practices Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Follow Existing OSHA Standards
It also gives guidance on how to evaluate risk to best classify worker exposure as very high, high, medium, and low risk and the controls needed for each one. OSHA also has a COVID-19 webpage which offers information specifically for workers and employers.
NIOSH and the Centers for Disease Control also provide information for employers to help deal with the illness in the “Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)”. “The following interim guidance may help prevent workplace exposures to acute respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, in non-healthcare settings, where it is unlikely that work tasks create an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19. The guidance also provides planning considerations if there are more widespread, community outbreaks of COVID-19”. At this time, there is much we need to learn about this new pandemic facing the world. However, there are steps at home and work that can be taken to lessen its impact and lead to eventual control. These guidelines provide information that can help employers and workers best deal with it at work.
OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.
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