COVID-19 outbreak: OSHA publishes employer guidance

Washington — In response to the outbreak of COVID-19, OSHA has published a guidance document intended to help employers protect workers from exposure to the potentially deadly illness and prevent it from spreading.

The illness reportedly is linked to a large seafood and animal market in Wuhan, China, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. As of March 10, 647 people in 36 states and the District of Columbia had been diagnosed with the illness and 25 had died, the agency states.

The document – published March 9 and developed in collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services – includes information on reducing workers’ potential exposure to the coronavirus that causes the illness, basic prevention measures and workplace controls. It also classifies possible levels of exposure for certain groups of employees, and gives recommendations for protecting workers in those situations.

“Protecting the health and safety of America’s workforce is a key component of this administration’s comprehensive approach to combating the coronavirus,” acting OSHA administrator Loren Sweatt said in a March 9 press release. “This guidance outlines practical ways that employers and workers can address potential health risks from the coronavirus in their workplaces.”