Weekly Safety Training Topic No. 2032

OSHA’s COVID-19 guiding principles for returning to work

OSHA has recently released a publication regarding the issue of COVID-19 and returning to work. The CDC set forth guidelines for essential workers and their need to continue to work as well as returning to work after an employee was sick. OSHA refers to the CDC for guidance in this publication and continues to emphasize the following: assessing the hazard of COVID-19 and where employees could have potential exposures; implementing good hygiene practices for all employees and visitors; maintain social distancing for all employees and guests; monitor any employee that has had a potential exposure and send home / stay home if you are sick; follow CDC guidelines for returning to work after symptoms have subsided; and finally, install and maintain engineering controls, administrative controls and PPE usage to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Here are the additional principles to consider when tackling this situation in the workplace. Consider flexible work hours and work areas. Flexible work hours could help employees with mental stresses that are brought on by families trying to figure out childcare during the pandemic. Also, allowing employees to flex their time to work during non-peak hours will help with the family needs of the employee to ease the tension caused by canceled summer camps, classes, and/or daycares. Communication is key when allowing employees to work flexible hours or from remote work areas. Make sure everyone understands the requirements that must be met when conducting business in this manner.

Increase training for new work requirements, safety, and health responses to COVID-19 and general expectations for new training applications and interactions. Make sure employees understand their expectations when conducting, hosting or attending training via web-based training or in-person training. When training is conducted in-person, the employees should be aware of the spacing requirements and PPE necessary to attend the training. If the training is web-based, the employees should understand how to conduct themselves so that they are attentive and respectful of the presenter and the company they are representing during the training.

The final principle to adhere to is employees’ rights against retaliation from the employers. Employees should understand their rights and protection to work in a safe and healthy work environment, free from recognized hazards, and to exercise their rights without the concern of retaliation against them from their employer. Check with the CDC guidelines for your occupation and understand your employer's response to helping protect your and your fellow workers from exposure to COVID-19. Remember, guidelines concerning COVID-19 can change daily, so make sure that the communication channel is kept open between you and your employer to prevent any misunderstanding as to the requirements to keep you safe during these uncertain times.

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The information and recommendations contained in this “Weekly Safety Training Topic” have been compiled from various sources believed to be reliable and represent the best current opinion on the subject. The Builders’ Association in no way guarantees, insures, or warrants the absolute correctness or sufficiency of any information contained within. The Builders’ Association expressly disclaims all liability and assumes no responsibility therewith.