Some OSHA Standards May Apply to Coronavirus
While there is no specific OSHA standard covering COVID-19, some OSHA requirements may apply to preventing occupational exposure to the virus.
Among them is OSHA’s personal protective equipment standards for general industry, which require using gloves, eye and face protection, and respiratory protection.
When respirators are needed to protect workers, employers must implement a comprehensive respiratory protection program in accordance with the Respiratory Protection standard.
OSHA has issued temporary guidance related to enforcement of respirator annual fit-testing requirements for healthcare.
The General Duty Clause requires employers to provide each worker “employment and a place of employment, which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”
A section of OSHA’s General Environmental Controls speaks to general sanitation issues, water usage, and lavatory facilities.
OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens standard applies to occupational exposure to human blood and other potentially infectious materials that typically do not include respiratory secretions that may transmit COVID-19.
However, the standard’s provisions offer a framework that may help control some sources of the virus, including exposures to body fluids, such as respiratory droplets, not covered by the standard.
OSHA recordkeeping requirements mandate covered employers to record certain work-related injuries and illnesses on their OSHA 300 log.
COVID-19 can be a recordable illness if a worker is infected as a result of doing work-related duties.
However, employers are only responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if these criteria are met:
- The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19
- The case is work-related
- The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria, such as medical treatment beyond first-aid, or requiring days away from work
For more information, contact CBIA’s Phillip Montgomery (860.244.1982).
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