The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was called into action after the Occupational Safety and Health Act was installed by Congress in 1970. Since then, the administration has sought to protect workers from operating conditions that place them at risk, and has composed and enforced standards that companies must abide by. As part of the U.S. Department of Labor, the OSH Act provides protections for most private-sector employees and employers.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought about new COVID-19 prevention policies for the delivery industry that are now needed to keep employees safe within OSHA standards. Companies should be prepared to launch specific COVID-19 Prevention Plans and Respiratory Protection initiatives to protect workers, and the following OSHA safety tips are recommended to keep delivery industry employees safe.
Communicate With Employees About Safety
Communicating with staff about preventing virus spread is the first and most critical step in keeping workers safe. Employers should send communications that teach employees how to properly disinfect surfaces and wear PPE. It’s also vital that all staff working in facilities wear a mask or respirator that covers their nose and mouth and cover any coughs or sneezes.
OSHA signage and print materials help to create awareness around prevention practices and communicate vital information that will teach safety protocols. OSHA currently has signage in multiple languages that teach employees how to properly wear a respirator and outline ten steps workplaces can take to reduce the risk of coronavirus exposure.
Perform Daily Health Checks
Per OSHA regulations, employees should be encouraged to stay home when sick and are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. Temperature checks are a preventative measure that companies can take to help limit the spread of the virus in their workplace, and employees should be encouraged to report any safety concerns to managers without fear of repercussions.
Incorporate Enhanced Cleaning
Facility sanitation is yet another critical area in keeping workers safe. Since the coronavirus is transmitted through people, constant hand washing prevents the spread of the virus. OSHA recommends providing employees with hand sanitizer stations or alcohol-based sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol. High touch surface areas should also be regularly disinfected multiple times a day.
Promote Social Distancing
Limiting worksite access to only essential workers will help employees maintain social distancing within facilities, and those who can telecommute should do so. OSHA also recommends staggering employee shifts and discouraging workers from sharing tools, equipment, and workspaces with other co-workers. Capacity in common spaces should be limited, and employees should be encouraged to maintain six feet between other employees at all times.
Read the Labels on Cleaning Products
Not every product that can be used for cleaning will actually rid facilities of the coronavirus. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) products that specifically indicate effectiveness against the coronavirus will effectively kill live virus strains that can survive on surfaces. Sanitation teams must carefully follow all manufacturer instructions that accompany cleaning materials in order to thoroughly sanitize facilities.
OSHA has compiled a Lessons Learned list that outlines the standards many employers often do not fully comply with. Most of the missed criteria has to do with developing a documented Respiratory Protection Program and other behaviors associated with respiratory care. A few behaviors that employers should be sure to do when it comes to respirators in the workplace are:
- Perform fit tests that evaluate the fit of a respirator
- Provide no-cost medical evaluations and respirator training to employees
- Activate a formal Respiratory Protection Program that includes onsite emergency procedures
- Distribute respirators and other needed PPE to employees
- Store respirators and PPE properly
Another critical must-do that comes from OSHAs Lessons Learned list is ensuring to consistently assess workplace hazards that could increase the risk of COVID-19 exposure to workers. OSHA is continuing to put out resources that will help companies navigate the extenuating circumstances brought on by the pandemic and even offers a consulting program to help companies prepare for inspections.