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It’s strange to think how many months have passed since the coronavirus pandemic began. And yet, the pandemic soldiers on, and so do workplaces. If anything, workplaces have risen to the challenge of the pandemic, instituting new safety protocols to protect workers and customers.
But as our understanding of the pandemic evolves, so has the guidance issued to protect workers. And for employers, it can be tricky to keep track of everything.
With that in mind, we’re taking a closer look at two key pieces of health and safety legislation and guidance on the coronavirus pandemic.
One of the most recent items of OSHA guidance is the national news release in early October covering the use of tight-fitting powered air purifying respirators. It is part of the Department of Labor’s overall push to ensure that such respirators are available throughout the pandemic.
The new policy permits the use of NIOSH-approved tight-fitting air purifying respirators for protection against the coronavirus in instances where initial or annual fitting is infeasible. Unfortunately, this situation is increasingly common due to respirator shortages.
This guidance only applies to NIOSH-approved respirators and only covers respirators used by workers at high risk of COVID exposure. It does not cover any respirators used to protect against other hazards, nor does it cover loose-fitting respirators that do not require fit testing.
The alert offers guidance on preventative measures employers can take to limit employee exposure and ensure social distancing protocols are followed. For example, employers can establish flexible worksites and flexible shifts, which in most cases means teleworking or staggered shifts.
In addition, employers should rearrange offices, especially common areas, to reinforce social distancing and maintain physical distance between workers.
In work areas where customers are present, employers should mark six-foot distances on the floor with tape, particularly in areas where lines form or drive-through or curbside pickup is used. The number of customers allowed in a space at any one time should be capped to ensure customers maintain a safe distance from each other.
Last but not least, empower your workers! All workers should be encouraged to bring health concerns to their supervisor’s attention to ensure all employees and customers have a safe space.
Few safety crises have challenged employers at the same level as the coronavirus. And with the pandemic always shifting, it’s even harder to keep up with health and safety legislation to protect your employees from harm.
Our compliance obligations software is here to make that process easier, making it easy to know where you stand, where you’re lagging, and what you need to do to catch up. Sound like the right fit? Then let’s talk. Get in touch today to learn more.
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