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Earlier this year, OSHA issued stronger safety guidance to help protect employers and workers from COVID-19. Even if you have already taken steps to keep your workforce healthy, it’s a good idea to check out the guidance to make sure you’re doing all you can.

Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace includes these recommendations:

Conduct a hazard assessment. This identifies potential workplace hazards for COVID-19. When doing an assessment, involve workers and their representatives, as they are most familiar with the conditions they face.

Identify ways to limit the spread of the virus. This should include a combination of:

  • Eliminating the hazard by separating and sending home employees who are infected or potentially infected.
  • Using physical distancing in communal work areas (this includes remote work).
  • Installing barriers when physical distancing can’t be maintained.
  • Using face coverings.
  • Improving ventilation.
  • Using personal protective equipment.
  • Providing supplies for good hygiene.
  • Routinely cleaning and disinfecting.

Adopt policies for employee absences that don’t punish workers. This encourages potentially infected workers to remain home. When possible, allow employees to use sick leave, telework, or work in an isolated area if they are following CDC isolation or quarantine guidelines but are not ill.

Ensure that COVID-19 policies and procedures are communicated in a language that workers understand. A best practice is to create a communication system that workers can use for self-reporting of sickness and exposure and employers can use to notify workers of exposures and closures. In addition, provide basic facts about how COVID-19 spreads and the importance of hand hygiene and the use of face coverings.

Implement protections from retaliation for workers who raise COVID-19-related concerns. Make sure workers know who to contact with questions. They should understand there are prohibitions against retaliation for raising workplace safety and health concerns. Consider using a hotline for workers to voice concerns anonymously.

Provide vaccination information. Give workers information and training on the benefits and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine. We’ve been dealing with COVID-19 in the workplace for more than a year. Review the list and make sure the advice is followed to help keep your workforce safe and healthy.