The evolving coronavirus outbreak was first identified in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. Since its identification, this virus has spread to a growing number of other countries, including the United States. The latest situation summary updates are available on CDC’s COVID-19 webpage.
At this time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is emphasizing that the risk to individuals is dependent on exposure. Because of their proximity to infected individuals, workers in certain industries are at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19. A higher exposure risk also exists for individuals who travel to areas where the virus is spreading. According to OSHA, industries posing an elevated risk of worker exposure to COVID-19 (and other infectious or communicable diseases) include:
- Health care
- Death care
- Airline operations
- Border protection
- Solid waste and wastewater management
- OSHA considers COVID-19 infections to be a recordable illness when a worker is infected on the job.
- Employers should consider whether their workers may encounter someone infected with COVID-19 in the course of their employment.
- Employers must determine whether to train their employees about virus exposure, hazard recognition and appropriate protocols for preventing or reducing the likelihood of exposure.
Employers subject to OSHA should become familiar with OSHA’s interim guidance on COVID-19.
In addition, these employers should also:
- Continue to monitor COVID-19 developments;
- Review their workplace safety reporting and recording policies to ensure they are ready to respond to COVID-19 workplace issues;
- Determine whether and how remote work policies may affect their obligation to provide employees with a safe and healthy work environment; and
- Review employee anti-retaliation protections for reporting workplace hazards and concerns.