OSHA’s new general guidance suggests the following to safeguard unvaccinated effectively and at-risk employees:
- Providing paid time off for employees to get vaccinated;
- Staying home from work for infected people, unvaccinated employees who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, and all workers with COVID-19 symptoms;
- In communal work settings, using physical separation rules for unvaccinated and at-risk staff;
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as face coverings and surgical masks is provided to unvaccinated and at-risk employees.
- Using simple formats and language to educate and train personnel about COVID-19 policies and procedures;
- Advising third unvaccinated persons (such as clients, visitors, and guests) to wear facial coverings in the workplace or business;
- Ventilation system maintenance;
- Cleaning and disinfecting the workplace regularly;
- COVID-19 infections and deaths must be recorded and reported.
- Employees will be protected from retaliation if they raise concerns about COVID-19-related hazards and establish an anonymous reporting method.
Vaccination is deemed to be ‘optimal.’
According to OSHA, getting vaccinated against coronavirus is “the ideal step” in protecting the workplace. OSHA advises employees to obtain the immunization, emphasizing that the FDA-approved vaccines are quite effective. The amended OSHA guidance also includes safety recommendations for particular work situations at a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure or transmission. These include places where unvaccinated or at-risk workers are more likely to be in close contact with other workers or the general public for long periods. OSHA recommends that businesses develop rules requiring workers to get vaccinated or to submit to frequent COVID-19 testing—in addition to mask-wearing and physical separation—if they are unvaccinated. “
Regulations and standards in environment, health and safety (EHS) necessitate an integrated approach to avoiding risks that could put people in danger.
The following are some of the most important aspects of the EHS process:
- Developing a safety strategy
- Making checklists for inspections
- Performing risk analyses
- Keeping an eye on the situation
- Setting out time for appropriate training
Employees should remember that while cleaning and disinfecting surfaces to avoid the spread of COVID-19, they should simultaneously be safeguarding themselves and others from chemical exposure.
Chemical exposure can irritate the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and respiratory system, particularly prolonged or repeated. Therefore, the CDC recommends the following safety precautions when cleaning to avoid chemical exposure:
- For each cleaning chemical used on-site, keep an up-to-date safety data sheet (SDS). All personnel should be familiar with the SDSs for the items they use, which outline the requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE) and first aid. Use personal protective equipment (PPE) to the extent needed by the SDS or more if your supervisor requires it.
- If possible, use a fan or an open window to ensure that the cleaning area is thoroughly aired.
- Store cleaning supplies in their original marked containers. If you’re transferring to a new school, you must label the new container with the common name of the secondary container.
- If you are exposed to a chemical or hazard, inform your supervisor immediately and dial 911 for emergencies. If possible, obtain the SDS for the chemical transported to the site at the time. To assist medical staff with treatment alternatives, go to an emergency room or see a doctor.