he following federal resources and guidelines are designed to help combat the spread of COVID-19 and help employers and employees understand new laws and safety compliance issues.
Contract Tracing and Monitoring
State and local public health officials and policy makers can compare three contact tracing strategies using COVIDTracer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "The tool allows you to vary estimates of the potential effectiveness of each strategy, the average number of contacts per case, and the time needed for case interviews and contact follow-up activities. COVIDTracer provides you with estimates of the number of personnel needed to conduct case investigations, contact tracing, and case and contact monitoring," as well as other information.
CDC Decision Tools
Expanded Testing for COVID-19
The Department of Health and Human Services has expanded COVID-19 testing capacity by delivering $11 billion in new funding for states, territories and tribes. "This funding from the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act will provide critical support to develop, purchase, administer, process and analyze COVID-19 tests, conduct surveillance, trace contacts and related activities," according to a CDC press release May 18.
Loading Dock/Stock Workers
OSHA has issued safety tips in English and Spanish to protect stockroom and loading dock workers in the retail industry, including information on:
- Stocking during slow periods or when stores are closed
- How to stock while stores are open
- Social distancing and limiting the number of customers
- Coordinating with vendors to minimize stockroom and loading dock worker contact with delivery drivers
OSHA and CDC issued joint Interim Guidance for Agriculture Workers and Employers.
OSHA launched a new webpage with coronavirus-related guidance for construction employers and workers, including information on:
- Using physical barriers, such as walls, closed doors or plastic sheeting, to separate workers from other individuals
- Keeping in-person meetings short, limiting the number of workers in attendance and social distancing
- Screening calls when scheduling indoor work to assess potential exposures risk
- Requesting home environments or other construction areas in occupied buildings have good air flow
- Staggering work schedules to reduce the number of employees on a job site at any given time
Meat and Poultry Processing Workers
OSHA, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, issued Interim Guidance for Meat and Poultry Processing Workers and Employers for those involved in beef, pork and poultry operations.
Critical Infrastructure, Recording COVID-19, Benefits Information
- Critical Infrastructure Industries: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency's Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce identifies industries that have a responsibility to maintain a normal work schedule during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not an exhaustive list; state and local officials and critical industry partners should use their own judgment in balancing public safety and continued delivery of services.
- COVID-19 Worker Safety and Support: CDC offers this information hub for employers. Topics include maintaining healthy business operations, complying with OSHA requirements, coping with job stress, safety steps for specific industries and more.
- COVID-19 and Equal Employment Opportunity Laws: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides comprehensive information on COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and Other EEO Laws. Topics include disability-related inquiries and medical exams, confidentiality of medical information, hiring and onboarding, pandemic-related harassment, furloughs and layoffs, and more.
- Recording Cases of COVID-19: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration May 19 issued updated enforcement guidance for recording cases of COVID-19. This memorandum will remain in effect until further notice.
- Interim Enforcement Response Plan: OSHA also announced May 19 an updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan to provide instruction to OSHA area offices and compliance safety and health officers on handling coronavirus-related complaints, referrals and severe illness reports. The memorandum will remain in effect until further notice.
- Challenges in Complying with OSHA Standards: On April 16, OSHA issued a Memorandum on Discretion in Enforcement when Considering an Employer’s Good Faith Efforts During the COVID-19 Pandemic, which will remain in effect until further notice. Widespread business closures, restrictions on travel, limitations on group sizes, facility visitor prohibitions, and stay-at-home or shelter-in-place requirements may limit availability of employees, consultants or contractors who normally provide training, auditing, equipment inspections, testing and other essential safety and industrial hygiene services. During inspections, OSHA Area Offices will assess an employer's efforts to comply with standards that require annual or recurring audits, reviews, training or assessments and evaluate whether the employer has made good faith efforts to comply and, in situations where compliance was not possible, to ensure employees were not exposed to hazards for which they were not prepared or trained.
- Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave: The U.S. Department of Labor announced action April 1 on how workers and employers will benefit from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. FFCRA helps combat workplace effects of COVID-19 by reimbursing employers with fewer than 500 employees for the cost of paid leave for reasons related to COVID-19. Listen to a recorded webinar and get more information about FFCRA.
OSHA has issued an alert listing steps employers can follow to implement social distancing in the workplace and to help protect workers from exposure to the coronavirus. Safety measures employers can implement include:
- Isolate any worker who begins to exhibit symptoms until they can either go home or leave to seek medical care
- Establish flexible worksites (e.g., telecommuting) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts) if feasible
- Stagger breaks and re-arrange seating in common break areas to maintain physical distance between workers
- In workplaces where customers are present, mark six-foot distances with floor tape in areas where lines form, use drive-through windows or curbside pickup, and limit the number of customers allowed at one time
- Move or reposition workstations to create more distance, and install plexiglass partitions
- Encourage workers to bring any safety and health concerns to the employer’s attention.
The new alert is available for download in English and Spanish.
Face Covering and PPE Best Practices During COVID-19
Shortages in personal protective equipment and other supplies have led to interim guidelines that should be practiced when necessary as a crisis strategy to ensure availability for all workers.
From the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
NIOSH shared the following journal articles as they pertain to a SAFER Task Force discussion on face shields June 24.
From the Federal Emergency Management Agency
From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
From the Occupational Safety and Health Administration:
Additional Health and Safety Guidance
- If you've had COVID-19, when can you be around others? Ending home isolation depends on specific factors and situations. CDC has recommendations based on various scenarios.
- Frequently Asked Questions: The CDC provides this extensive list of FAQs on topics including how COVID-19 spreads, how it affects children, symptoms and testing, and much more.
- Managing Fatigue During Times of Crisis: CDC released this Guidance for Nurses, Managers and Other Healthcare Workers on managing fatigue due to increased physical, emotional and mental demands, and lack of sleep.
- Running Essential Errands: The CDC has provided these guidelines on how to safely go grocery shopping, get take-out or gas, do your banking and visit the doctor.
- Apple Inc.: In partnership with federal government agencies, Apple released an app and website that guides Americans through questions about their health and exposure to determine if they should seek care for COVID-19 symptoms. Visit apple.com/covid19.
- OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 discusses preventing the spread of COVID-19, safe work practices and personal protective equipment based on risk of exposure. Available in English and Spanish.
- Preventing Workplace Exposure: The CDC offers strategies for businesses and employers to prevent workplace exposure and create an infectious disease outbreak response plan. CDC also has information for target audiences, including healthcare professionals and public health officials, as well as general briefings and health alerts. For questions, contact 800-CDC-INFO, submit a web form inquiry or visit the CDC webpage on COVID-19.
Air Travel Toolkit for Airline Partners
CDC created a Communication Toolkit for Airlines to help them reach travelers and employees with COVID-19 prevention information.
How to Help
- To combat the spread of COVID-19, FEMA has established a website that includes information on how to donate excess medical supplies or equipment. To donate your company's non-medical goods or services, please submit your inquiry to the Department of Homeland Security Procurement Action Innovative Response Team.
- How to Donate Personal Protective Equipment: To combat the shortage of PPE, a grassroots citizen group has set up DonatePPE.org, to collect gear to send to hospitals and to assist with student donation drives. The group is collecting N95 masks, face masks, isolation gowns, face shields, goggles, disposable head covers, PAPRs, P100 respirators, scrubs, shoe-covers, disinfectant wipes and liquids, general purpose hand cleansers and more.
- Request or supply equipment through ProjectN95, a national clearinghouse for critical PPE and medical supplies.