[Updated 3/19/20] The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published "Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19" to help companies respond to possible coronavirus occurrences in the workplace. The document provides practical guidance for preventing the spread of the disease and contains information on safe work practices and appropriate personal protective equipment based on the risk level of exposure. The guidelines follow the Centers for Disease Control's most current recommendations.
The guidance is not a standard or regulation and creates no new legal obligations for employers, but it contains recommendations and descriptions of mandatory health and safety standards. The guidance stresses that employers may need to develop plans that address specific exposure risks at workplaces, sources of exposures, and routes of transmission. The guidance also outlines the numerous ways COVID-19 could impact workplaces, including increasing worker absences, changing patterns of commerce, and interrupting supply and delivery.
“Protecting the health and safety of America’s workforce is a key component of this Administration’s comprehensive approach to combating the coronavirus,” principal deputy assistant secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt said in a news release. “This guidance outlines practical ways that employers and workers can address potential health risks from the coronavirus in their workplaces.”
In addition to the guidance, OSHA recently launched a COVID-19 website providing infection prevention information for workers and employers. OSHA is also actively reviewing any complaints regarding workplace protection from coronavirus and conducting outreach activities.
The Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division is providing information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to coronavirus, including effects on wages and hours worked and job-protected leave.