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OSHA issues coronavirus guidance

Providers advised to follow CDC-based recommendations, establish workplace controls

March 13, 2020

By Jennifer Garvin

Coronavirus icon
Image courtesy of CDC/Alissa Eckert, Dan Higgins.

Washington — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued new guidance for health care providers to prepare workplaces for COVID-19.

According to an alert from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the agency said it developed the guidance based on traditional infection prevention and industrial hygiene practices. The recommendations are consistent with those from the Centers for Control and Disease Prevention.

Steps employers can take to reduce workers’ risk of exposure to coronavirus include:
• Develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan.
• Carry out basic infection prevention measures such as promoting frequent and thorough hand washing, encouraging workers to stay home if they are sick and encouraging respiratory etiquette by covering coughs and sneezes.
• Put in place policies and procedures for prompt identification and isolation of sick people, if appropriate.
• Develop, implement and communicate about workplace flexibilities and protections.
• Establish workplace controls including using physical barriers to control the spread of the virus; social distancing; and appropriate personal protective equipment, hygiene and cleaning supplies.
• Follow existing OSHA standards.

OSHA also recommends that providers do the following to help prevent exposure:
• Frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol — if soap and running water are not available.
• Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

For more information, visit OSHA.gov.

The American Dental Association has created an informational webpage and handout for dentists on the coronavirus disease at ADA.org/virus.