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Course 638 Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Returning to Work

Risk Pyramid.
Reopening in Three Phases.

Reopening for Business

President Trump has unveiled Guidelines for Opening up America Again, a three-phased approach based on the advice of public health experts. These steps will help state and local officials when reopening their economies, getting people back to work, and continuing to protect American lives. The CDC has published Activities and initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response and the President's Plan for Opening America Up Again.

Nine Guiding Principles

OSHA provides nine guiding principles and criteria for relaxing restrictions slow the spread of COVID-19. Employers should continue to consider flexible policies including remote work (i.e., telework), and alternative business operations to provide goods (e.g., curbside pickup) and services to customers.

Click on the button to see nine guiding principles for reopening business.

Nine Guiding Principles

  • Hazard assessment, including practices to determine when, where, how, and to what sources of SARS-CoV-2 workers are likely to be exposed in the course of their job duties.
  • Hygiene, including practices for hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and cleaning and disinfection.
  • Social distancing, including practices for maximizing to the extent feasible and maintaining distance between all people, including workers, customers, and visitors.
  • Identification and isolation of sick employees, including practices for worker self-monitoring or screening, and isolating and excluding from the workplace any employees with signs or symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Return to work after illness or exposure, including after workers recover from COVID-19 or complete recommended self-quarantine after exposure to a person with COVID-19.
  • Controls, including those concerning remote work (i.e., telework) and sick leave.
  • Workplace flexibilities, Consider new or revised policies on telework and sick leave, and let employees know the options available to them.
  • Training, including practices for ensuring employees receive training on the signs, symptoms, and risk factors associated with COVID-19; where, how, and to what sources of SARS-CoV-2 employees might be exposed in the workplace; and how to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 at work.
  • Anti-retaliation, including practices for ensuring that no adverse or retaliatory action is taken against an employee who adheres to these guidelines or raises workplace safety and health concerns.

During all phases of reopening, employers should implement strategies for basic hygiene (e.g., hand hygiene; cleaning and disinfection), social distancing, identification and isolation of sick employees, workplace controls and flexibilities, and employee training that are appropriate for the particular phase.

Employers should monitor State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Government (SLTT) health department communications to understand how the communities in which their workplaces are located are progressing through the reopening phases identified in the guidelines.

1. During all phases of reopening, employers should implement strategies for each of the following EXCEPT _____.

a. basic hygiene
b. social distancing
c. progressive discipline
d. employee training

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OSHA-CDC Guidelines for Reopening

Risk Pyramid.
Reopening in Three Phases.

Criteria

The following criteria should be satisfied before proceeding to phased opening. The National Governors Association also provides a summary of the six public health criteria in gating plans.

Click on the buttons below to see the Proposed State or Regional Gating Criteria.

Symptoms

  1. Downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) reported within a 14-day period; and
  2. Downward trajectory of COVID-like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period

Cases

  1. Downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period; or
  2. Downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period (flat or increasing volume of tests)

Hospitals

  1. Treat all patients without crisis care; and
  2. Robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing

State and local officials may need to tailor the application of these criteria to local circumstances (e.g., metropolitan areas that have suffered severe COVID outbreaks, rural and suburban areas where outbreaks have not occurred or have been mild). Additionally, where appropriate, Governors should work on a regional basis to satisfy these criteria and to progress through the three phases.

Core State Preparedness Responsibilities

Under the guidelines, each state has core preparedness responsibilities for testing and contact tracing, healthcare system capacity, and planning.

Click on the buttons below to see the core state preparedness responsibilities.

Testing and Contact Tracing

  • Ability to quickly set up safe and efficient screening and testing sites for symptomatic individuals and trace contacts of COVID+ results
  • Ability to test Syndromic/ILI-indicated persons for COVID and trace contacts of COVID+ results
  • Ensure sentinel surveillance sites are screening for asymptomatic cases and contacts for COVID+ results are traced (sites operate at locations that serve older individuals, lower-income Americans, racial minorities, and Native Americans)

Healthcare System Capacity

  • Ability to quickly and independently supply sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)and critical medical equipment to handle dramatic surge in need
  • Ability to surge ICU capacity

Plans

  • Protect the health and safety of workers in critical industries
  • Protect the health and safety of those living and working in high-risk facilities (e.g., senior care facilities)
  • Protect employees and users of mass transit
  • Advise citizens regarding protocols for social distancing and face coverings
  • Monitor conditions and immediately take steps to limit and mitigate any rebounds or outbreaks by restarting a phase or returning to an earlier phase, depending on severity

CDC Proposed Phased Approach

The CDC Proposed Phased Approach to reopening is based on up-to-date data and readiness information. It mitigates the risk of resurgence, and protects the most vulnerable individuals. The approach can be implemented on a statewide or county-by-county basis at the governors' discretion.

2. Who determines if the CDC Three-Phase approach is implemented on a county-by-county or statewide basis?

a. City mayors
b. State governors
c. The President
d. Department of Homeland Security

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OSHA-CDC Three-Phase Approach

Isolation room.
Yes, we're open!

Guidelines for All Phases: Individuals and Employers

Click on the buttons below to see the CDC recommendations for individuals and employers in all phases of reopening.

Individuals

Continue to practice good hygiene.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer, especially after touching frequently used items or surfaces.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Sneeze or cough into a tissue, or the inside of your elbow.
  • Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible.
  • Strongly consider using face coverings while in public, and particularly when using mass transit.

People who feel sick should stay at home.

  • Do not go to work or school.
  • Contact and follow the advice of your medical provider.

Employers

Develop and implement appropriate policies, in accordance with Federal, State, and local regulations and guidance, and informed by industry best practices, regarding:

  • Social distancing and protective equipment
  • Temperature checks
  • Testing, isolating, and contact tracing
  • Sanitation
  • Use and disinfection of common and high-traffic areas
  • Business travel

Monitor workforce for indicative symptoms. Do not allow symptomatic people to physically return to work until cleared by a medical provider.

Develop and implement policies and procedures for workforce contact tracing following employee COVID+ test.

PHASE ONE. Click on the buttons below to see the Phase 1 business reopening recommendations for individuals and employers.

Individuals

ALL VULNERABLE INDIVIDUALS* should continue to shelter in place. Members of households with vulnerable residents should be aware that by returning to work or other environments where distancing is not practical, they could carry the virus back home. Precautions should be taken to isolate from vulnerable residents.

All individuals, WHEN IN PUBLIC (e.g., parks, outdoor recreation areas, shopping areas), should maximize physical distance from others. Social settings of more than 10 people, where appropriate distancing may not be practical, should be avoided unless precautionary measures are observed.

Avoid SOCIALIZING in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing (e.g., receptions, trade shows)

MINIMIZE NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL and adhere to CDC guidelines regarding isolation following travel.

* Vulnerable Individuals are defined as (1) elderly individuals, and (2) individuals with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and those whose immune system is compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring such therapy.

Employers

Continue to ENCOURAGE TELEWORK, whenever possible and feasible with business operations.

If possible, RETURN TO WORK IN PHASES.

Close COMMON AREAS where personnel are likely to congregate and interact, or enforce strict social distancing protocols.

Minimize NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL and adhere to CDC guidelines regarding isolation following travel.

Strongly consider SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS for personnel who are members of a VULNERABLE POPULATION.

Specific Employers

SCHOOLS AND ORGANIZED YOUTH ACTIVITIES (e.g., daycare, camp) that are currently closed should remain closed.

VISITS TO SENIOR LIVING FACILITIES AND HOSPITALS should be prohibited. Those who do interact with residents and patients must adhere to strict protocols regarding hygiene.

LARGE VENUES (e.g., sit-down dining, movie theaters, sporting venues, places of worship) can operate under strict physical distancing protocols.

ELECTIVE SURGERIES can resume, as clinically appropriate, on an outpatient basis at facilities that adhere to CMS guidelines.

GYMS can open if they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols.

BARS should remain closed

PHASE TWO. Click on the buttons below to see the Phase 2 business reopening recommendations for individuals and employers.

Individuals

ALL VULNERABLE INDIVIDUALS should continue to shelter in place. Members of households with vulnerable residents should be aware that by returning to work or other environments where distancing is not practical, they could carry the virus back home. Precautions should be taken to isolate from vulnerable residents.

All individuals, WHEN IN PUBLIC (e.g., parks, outdoor recreation areas, shopping areas), should maximize physical distance from others. Social settings of more than 50 people, where appropriate distancing may not be practical, should be avoided unless precautionary measures are observed.

NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL can resume.

Employers

Continue to ENCOURAGE TELEWORK, whenever possible and feasible with business operations.

Close COMMON AREAS where personnel are likely to congregate and interact, or enforce moderate social distancing protocols.

NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL can resume.

Strongly consider SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS for personnel who are members of a VULNERABLE POPULATION.

Specific Employers

SCHOOLS AND ORGANIZED YOUTH ACTIVITIES (e.g., daycare, camp) can reopen.

VISITS TO SENIOR CARE FACILITIES AND HOSPITALS should be prohibited. Those who do interact with residents and patients must adhere to strict protocols regarding hygiene.

LARGE VENUES (e.g., sit-down dining, movie theaters, sporting venues, places of worship) can operate under moderate physical distancing protocols.

ELECTIVE SURGERIES can resume, as clinically appropriate, on an outpatient and in-patient basis at facilities that adhere to CMS guidelines.

GYMS can remain open if they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols.

BARS may operate with diminished standing-room occupancy, where applicable and appropriate.

PHASE THREE. Click on the buttons below to see the Phase 3 business reopening recommendations for individuals and employers.

Individuals

VULNERABLE INDIVIDUALS can resume public interactions, but should practice physical distancing, minimizing exposure to social settings where distancing may not be practical, unless precautionary measures are observed.

LOW-RISK POPULATIONS should consider minimizing time spent in crowded environments.

Employers

Resume UNRESTRICTED STAFFING of worksites.

Specific Employers

VISITS TO SENIOR CARE FACILITIES AND HOSPITALS can resume. Those who interact with residents and patients must be diligent regarding hygiene.

LARGE VENUES (e.g., sit-down dining, movie theaters, sporting venues, places of worship) can operate under limited physical distancing protocols.

GYMS can remain open if they adhere to standard sanitation protocols.

BARS may operate with increased standing room occupancy, where applicable.

Employers should continue these practices to the extent possible to help prevent COVID-19 from emerging or resurging in their workplace. Such a resurgence could lead to increases in infected and sick employees, the increased need for contact tracing of individuals who visited a workplace, enhanced cleaning and disinfection practices, or even a temporary closure of the business.

3. The CDC guidelines state employers may continue unrestricted staffing _____.

a. during all phases
b. during phase 1
c. during phase 2
d. during phase 3

Next Section

Frequently Asked Questions

Isolation room.
Employers can conduct testing.

Can employers conduct work site SARS-CoV-2 testing?

  • Yes. Employers may consider implementing strategies to reduce risks to the safety and health of workers and workplaces from COVID-19 that include conducting SARS-CoV-2 testing. Neither the OSH Act nor OSHA standards prohibit employer testing for SARS-CoV-2, if applied in a transparent manner applicable to all employees (i.e., non-retaliatory).

What if employees test negative for SARS-CoV-2?

  • Employers should not presume that individuals who test negative for SARS-CoV-2 infection (i.e., the virus that causes COVID-19) present no hazard to others in the workplace. Employers should continue to implement the basic hygiene, social distancing, workplace controls and flexibilities, and employee training described in this guidance in ways that reduce the risk of workplace spread of SARS-CoV-2, including by asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals.

4. Which of the following statements is TRUE regarding testing for SARS-CoV-2?

a. Both OSHA and CDC prohibit testing
b. OSHA allows testing, but CDC prohibits it
c. Neither OSHA nor CDC prohibit testing
d. CDC allows testing, but OSHA prohibits it

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Frequently Asked Question (Continued)

Grinding paint.
Employers may take temperatures.

Can employers conduct work site temperature checks or other health screening?

  • Yes. Neither the OSH Act nor OSHA standards prohibits employer screening for COVID-19, if applied in a transparent manner applicable to all employees (i.e., non-retaliatory). Employers may consider implementing strategies to reduce risks to the safety and health of workers and workplaces from COVID-19 that include conducting daily in-person or virtual health checks (e.g., symptom and/or temperature screening, questionnaires, self-checks and self-questionnaires). Any such screening should consider ways to maintain confidentiality, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

What OSHA requirements must an employer follow when conducting health screening, temperature checking, or COVID-19 testing?

  • If an employer implements health screening or temperature checks and chooses to create records of this information, those records might qualify as medical records under the Access to Employee Exposure and Medical Records standard (29 CFR 1910.1020). The employer would then be required to retain these records for the duration of each worker’s employment plus 30 years and follow confidentiality requirements. However, employers need not make a record of temperatures when they screen workers, but instead may acknowledge a temperature reading in real-time.
  • Personnel administering COVID-19 tests, in-person temperature checks, or other in-person health screening must be protected from exposure to sources of SARS-CoV-2, including asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic workers who might be infected but not know it. Protection of screening and testing workers should follow the hierarchy of controls, including appropriate engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and PPE.

5. How can the employer take temperatures for COVID-19 without having to keep records?

a. Acknowledge temperature reading in real-time
b. Don't take temperatures at work
c. Have employees take their own temperatures at home
d. Place temperature-sensitive tape on the employee's hand

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Frequently Asked Question (Continued)

Isolation room.
Getting back to work will be great! Right?

When can employees who have had COVID-19, or illness consistent with COVID-19, return to work?

How do I know if employees need personal protective equipment (PPE)?

  • Employers must conduct a hazard assessment in accordance with OSHA’s PPE standard (29 CFR 1910.132), if applicable, to determine the PPE requirements for their unique work site. Employers subject to this standard must determine if PPE (such as gloves, surgical masks, and face shields) is necessary for employees to work safely after considering whether engineering and administrative controls and safe work practices (such as social distancing or the use of cloth face coverings) can effectively mitigate identified hazards.
  • Employers should consider modifying worker interaction—both among coworkers and with customers, visitors, or other members of the general public—in order to reduce the need for PPE, especially in light of potential equipment shortages.
  • If PPE is needed, but not available, and employers cannot identify alternative means to accomplish business needs safely, the work tasks must be discontinued. Consider CDC guidance for conserving and extending filtering facepiece respirator supplies in non-healthcare sectors

6. What is required if PPE is needed, but not available, and employers cannot identify alternative means to accomplish business needs safely?

a. Work while maintaining social distancing
b. The work tasks must be discontinued
c. Work may continue as long as PPE is ordered
d. OSHA has no requirements covering that situation

Check Your Work

Read the material in each section to find the correct answer to each quiz question. After answering all the questions, click on the "Check Quiz Answers" button to grade your quiz and see your score. You will receive a message if you forgot to answer one of the questions. After clicking the button, the questions you missed will be listed below. You can correct any missed questions and check your answers again.

Final Exam