November 13, 2020

With a second wave of COVID-19 potentially on its way, employers should be prepared to help employees stay safe and healthy this flu season. OSHA has released guidance to help employers understand what personal protective equipment (PPE) they’re required to provide. Basically, it depends on the level of exposure risk of the employee’s position. At a minimum, employers are obligated to provide all workers with the proper equipment needed to help them stay safe while working.  

OSHA defines the level of exposure risk in the following ways and requires the following types of PPE: 

  • Very high exposure risk. This includes workers with high risk for being exposed to COVID-19, including medical and health care workers handling COVID-19 patients, laboratory workers handling COVID-19 specimens, or postmortem workers. Per OSHA, these types of employees should wear gloves, gowns, face shields or goggles, and either face masks or respirators.  
  • High exposure risk. These types of employees include those who may be exposed to COVID-19, including health care or medial support staff, ambulance operators and other medical support staff, and mortuary support workers. Per OSHA, they require the same equipment as employees in the Very High Exposure Risk category.  
  • Moderate exposure risk. These employees are in frequent contact with the general public and other coworkers, so may come into contact with COVID-19. They include retail and restaurant staff, and any employees working in public businesses. They require any combination of gloves, masks, gowns and/or face shields or goggles. 
  • Low exposure risk. Employees in this category have little or no contact with the public or other coworkers, and include work-at-home or “telework” employees. Employers are not required to provide PPE to low exposure risk workers.  

Social distancing, deep cleaning and sick time 

For details about other recommended ways to keep employees safe, please refer to the OSHA publication.   

Other rules to check 

State and local authorities may have issued other mandates to abide by during the COVID-19 pandemic. This differs state to state and possibly town to town. Check with your local or state officials for more details on policies for keeping workers safe.  

Your staffing agency can help 

If you’re unsure of the rules and regulations and want to be sure you’re in compliance, your staffing agency can provide details. And if you’re in search of a staffing partner, check out Inter-Connect. To learn more, contact us today!  

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