OSHA recently published new guidance to help organizations establish COVID-19 prevention programs, mitigate the spread of the virus, and protect employees and business operations. This 16-point guidance is an important reference point for companies seeking to reopen their workplaces and avoid infractions. Here, we provide an overview of the topics covered in the OSHA guidance, discuss the importance of two-way communications systems in prevention strategies, and offer a downloadable COVID Return-to-Work Checklist to help you prepare for a safe and healthy return to work.
The 16-Point Guidance
OSHA’s 16-point guidance, listed on the OSHA page, “Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace,” focuses on how to identify and address COVID-related risks in the workplace. This guidance includes 16 elements to consider when returning to work, including:
- Establishing COVID-19 points of contacts
- Identifying workplace risks and take measures to limit the spread of COVID-19
- Implementing protections for high-risk workers
- Developing comprehensive protocols for identifying and isolating symptomatic workers
- Educating and training workers on COVID policies and procedures
- Establishing an effective communication system that enables workers to anonymously report COVID-related concerns without fear of reprisal
- Providing employees with guidance regarding testing, screening, and vaccination
Effective workplace prevention programs should include all the elements listed in this guidance and rely on regular, reliable communication between employees and leadership.
Implementing OSHA Guidance
To limit the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace and abide by OSHA’s recent guidance, it’s important for organizations to establish comprehensive health and safety policies, clearly communicate those policies, and remain open and responsive to employee questions and concerns. These policies may cover topics such as COVID-19 symptom screening, employee paid leave, quarantine protocols, sanitization, workplace isolation, and more.
The most effective prevention strategies follow a top-down and bottom-up approach: employers regularly communicate updates, and employees easily report questions and concerns without fear of reprisal. Continuous communication is key to effective risk mitigation and COVID-19 prevention.
How LiveSafe Can Help
A valuable component of COVID-19 prevention in the workplace is deploying a reliable, two-way communications tool such as the LiveSafe Platform. LiveSafe is the industry-leading risk management solution and has been used to protect millions of people at Fortune 1,000 companies and educational institutions across the nation. With intuitive broadcast messaging and anonymous tip reporting, LiveSafe makes it easy to identify and address health and safety threats before they escalate. As you plan a safe return to work, consider how LiveSafe features can help you abide by OSHA guidelines and keep your workforce safe:
- Broadcast Messaging enables you to quickly reach employees to share updates about COVID-19 policies or novel health and safety concerns.
- Customizable Resources allows you to upload organization-specific policies and procedures that employees can access with or without the Internet.
- Tip Submit provides employees with the means to easily report health and safety concerns, such as facilities damage or improper mask wearing, anonymously if desired. These tips are routed to the appropriate official for quick response.
- Safety Map shows relevant safety locations in and around an organization, such as health centers, hospitals, and police stations. This map can also be customized to include COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites.
With these features and more, LiveSafe empowers your employees to keep your organization healthy and safe and helps security teams surface actionable early warning signs and prevent incidents from escalating.
In addition to OSHA’s newest COVID-19 guidance, always consider OSHA standards and recommendations as well as information from the CDC and similar federal/state/local authorities, keep up to date with the current science on this evolving situation, and apply current best practices.
Here are some helpful additional resources:
- CDC COVID Resources: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/
- OSHA Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace (Jan, 2021): https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/safework
- OSHA COVID Resources: https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus
- OSHA 3990 ‘Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19’ (2020): https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf
- AIHA COVID Resources: https://www.aiha.org/public-resources/consumer-resources/coronavirus_outbreak_resources
- NIH COVID Return to Work Tool: https://tools.niehs.nih.gov/wetp/covid19worker/index.cfm
- ASSP COVID Resources: https://www.assp.org/resources/covid-19/latest-resources
- Vector Solutions “Vector Cares” Free COVID Courses: https://www.vectorsolutions.com/about-us/vector-cares/coronavirus/
To begin implementing OSHA’s 16-point guidance into your workplace COVID-19 prevention strategy, download our COVID Return-to-Work Checklist. Visit the LiveSafe website to learn more about implementing LiveSafe’s risk management capabilities into your prevention plan and prepare for a safe and healthy return to work.