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Osha And Cdc Guidance To Employers Regarding The Coronavirus

Both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) published guidance for employers on planning for and protecting their workplaces from exposure to and infection from COVID-19, or coronavirus.

Employees in most types of workplaces have a low risk of exposure and infection. However, OSHA warns that certain industries, including healthcare, deathcare, airline, border protection, laboratory, and international business travelers have a higher risk of exposure and infection.

The CDC recommends that employers adopt the following protocols to help limit employee exposure and possible infection of others in the workplace:           

1.      Encourage sick employees to stay home and ensure that employees are aware of sick leave policies. Employers should ensure their sick leave policies are flexible, and given that employees may experience delays in getting a doctor’s appointment, the CDC encourages employers to consider flexibility with any requirement that an employee provide a doctor’s note before returning to work;

2.      Separate sick employees upon arrival or as they begin to display acute respiratory illness symptoms;

3.      Emphasize sanitary work practices by displaying posters educating employees about staying home when sick, coughing and sneezing etiquette and hygiene, and providing tissues, hand sanitizer and no-touch trash receptacles for employee use;

4.      Perform routine environmental cleaning of all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace and consider providing disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces can be wiped down by each employee before use; and

5.      Prepare employees who travel on business for preventing the spread of coronavirus.

For additional information regarding each of these protocols, please see CDC Interim Guidance at

If an employee is confirmed to have the coronavirus infection, the CDC recommends that employers inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to the virus. In this circumstance, it is critical that employers maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  Employees exposed to a co-worker with confirmed coronavirus should refer to CDC Guidance on how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.