By James L. CurtisBrent I. ClarkDaniel R. Birnbaum, Patrick D. JoyceAdam R. Young, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: OSHA has issued a new alert and guidance document on COVID-19 suggesting ways for employers to minimize and manage risks to their workforces.

Following the CDC, OSHA has now issued guidance intended to “reduce the impact of COVID-19 outbreak conditions on businesses, workers, customers, and the public.”  OSHA’s guidance, which draws heavily on information available through the CDC, is intended to help employers plan for a potential COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.  The guidance puts the burden on employers to identify risks specific to their workplace settings and to determine the appropriate control measures to implement.

OSHA’s guidance also identifies jobs that it considers very high or high risk, medium risk and lower risk.  Very high or high risk workers include those who interact with potentially infected travelers from abroad, including those involved in healthcare, travel, or waste management.

OSHA provides examples of how to reduce the risk of obtaining the virus, including washing hands with soap and water, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.  Additionally, the guidance includes discussion on appropriate engineering or administrative controls.

OSHA has also indicated that while no specific standard covers COVID-19 exposure, some OSHA requirements may apply to preventing occupational exposure, including OSHA’s personal protective equipment standards and OSHA’s general duty clause.  However, the guidance document does not discuss what, if any, enforcement activities OSHA may undertake.

For more information on this or any related topic, please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) or Workplace Counseling & Solutions Teams.