WASHINGTON, D.C. (KRQE) – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published, on Monday, a thirty-five-page “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 to help reduce the impact of COVID-19 outbreak conditions on businesses, workers, customers and the public. 

Depending on the severity of COVID-19’s international impacts, outbreak conditions—including those rising to the level of a pandemic—can affect all aspects of daily life, including travel, trade, tourism, food supplies and financial markets. The guide contains information on safe work practices and appropriate personal protective equipment based on the risk level of exposure.

How a COVID-19 Outbreak Could Affect Workplaces:

  • Absenteeism: Workers could become sick, caring for sick family members, staying home due to daycare or school closings
  • Change in patterns of commerce: Consumers may also change shopping patterns because of a COVID-19 outbreak. Consumers may try to shop at off-peak hours to reduce contact with other people, show increased interest in in-home delivery services, or prefer other options, such as drive-through service, to reduce person-to-person contact. 
  • Interrupted supply/delivery: Shipments of items from geographic areas severely affected by COVID-19 may be delayed or canceled with or without notification.

Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.

In addition to the guidance, OSHA recently launched a COVID-19 webpage that provides infection prevention information specifically for workers and employers and is actively reviewing and responding to any complaints regarding workplace protection from novel coronavirus, as well as conducting outreach activities.

The Wage and Hour Division is providing information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19, including effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.   

The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs has also published guidance for federal employees and outlines Federal Employees’ Compensation Act coverage as it relates to the novel coronavirus.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees.