UPDATE: Mitigation & Prevention of COVID-19 in the Workplace
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently published additional COVID-19 guidelines for the protection of workers. In the newly released guidance, OSHA details the different levels of remediation that should occur in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the workplace. The updated guidance reflects developments in scientific research, best practices and industry standards.
Control Measures to Implement in the Workplace
- Establish COVID-19 prevention program: Your COVID-19 prevention program should include a step-by-step on how to keep workers safe – including things like teleworking, flexible scheduling, personal protective equipment (PPE) and face coverings.
- Face coverings: Not all face coverings are the same; the CDC recommends that face coverings be made of at least two layers of a tightly woven breathable fabric, such as cotton, and should not have exhalation valves or vents. Face coverings do provide a level of respiratory protection and can also reduce risk of infection in certain circumstances. OSHA clearly states that, ‘wearing a face covering is complementary to and not a replacement for physical distancing.’
- Social distancing: Ensure people practice social distancing, staying 6 ft apart.
- Enhanced cleaning: Regularly clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces.
- Daily temperature checks: Take employee/volunteer temperatures before they enter the building each day.
- Emphasis on Good Hygiene: Encourage frequent hand washing.
- Minimize touch points: Implement no-touch trash receptacles.
- Revise building layout: Restructure building layout to encourage one-way traffic and spread out desks/tables.
- Clear communication: Install signage that encourages social distancing and new safety measures.
What Should You Do if You Have a Confirmed Case of COVID-19?
If someone who has been in the workplace is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, the business should follow the CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations.
Cleaning and disinfection protocols include:
- Restrict access to areas used by the potentially infected person for enhanced cleaning.
- Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the impacted area.
- Wait 24 hours before cleaning or disinfecting the area.
- Ensure all immediate work areas and equipment used by the potentially infected person are cleaned and disinfected. This includes office space, bathrooms, shared tools and workplace items, tables or work surfaces, and shared electronic equipment like tablets, touch screens, keyboards, and remote controls.
- Vacuuming the space. A vacuum equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter is recommended and should be done when the area is unoccupied.
- Those cleaning should don PPE. Disposable gloves, safety glasses or goggles, aprons, etc. Additional equipment might be required based on the cleaning/disinfectant products being used and splash risk.
- Use of an appropriate EPA-registered disinfectant on List N: Disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2 after cleaning the area.
- Following OSHA Standards and requirements (29 CFR 1910.1200 and 1910.132, 133, and 138) for hazard communication and appropriate PPE.
It’s important to note that once an area has been thoroughly and properly disinfected, it can be reopened to staff. According to OSHA, ‘Workers without close contact with the potentially infected person can return to the area immediately after disinfection. If it is more than 7 days since the infected person visited or used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary. Continue routine cleaning and disinfection, described.
Your Obligations as an Employer
General Duty Clause, 29 USC 654, section 5(a)(1) requires that employers protect their employees from recognized hazards.
“Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”
Additionally, COVID-19 is not listed as an exception to recording an occupational illness in 29 CFR 1904.5(b)(2). If an employee contracts COVID-19 from another employee or through occupational exposure on a cleaning job, the illness is recordable on the OSHA log for that business. The business would also be required to contact OSHA to actually report a fatality or hospitalization from workplace exposure. In the case of a death, an OSHA inspection and investigation would follow and could result in a fine if a business didn’t take proper measures when they knew about it and should have.
Peace of Mind: Enduring Protection with Antimicrobial Shield
Antimicrobial shield has been shown to be effective by independent studies to prevent bacteria, fungus and/or certain viruses (e.g. influenza), from growing and living on the coated surface for a period of time.
While many companies can “clean” your facility, only Aftermath Services can disinfect and independently verify through scientific testing the efficacy of its disinfection process — the key to risk mitigation. On the front end, it can alert you of an infection, on the back end, it can audit the thoroughness and effectiveness of disinfection. Combined with proper on-going disinfection and antimicrobial shield application, surface testing provides an extra layer of measurability and accountability and is imperative to both proactive controls and the efficacy of containment measures.
Your Partners in Remediation When You Have a Confirmed Case
Aftermath Services has years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work that regular janitorial staff perform on a daily basis. Our biohazard professionals are trained to perform a proactive cleanup that involves facility/structure disinfection using our proprietary disinfectants coupled with verifiable surface testing.
Every infectious disease case is a biohazard situation, and every biohazard situation can include infectious disease. COVID-19 is an extremely serious situation and we understand that the health and safety of you, your family, and employees are on the line. Contact us at 877- 695-7054 today to discuss our COVID-19 cleaning methods or to schedule an appointment.