The OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, OSHA 3990-03220 was released on March 10, 2020.  It provided advisory recommendations to help employers reduce the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on businesses, workers, customers, and the public.  The focus is to help employers plan and prepare for continuity in light of expected worsening outbreak conditions. 

In planning and preparing for the COVID-19 Pandemic, employers should focus on infection prevention and traditional industrial hygiene practices including engineering, administrative, and work practice controls.  Personal protective equipment (PPE) should also be considered, especially for building service and cleaning personnel.

Develop or updated an existing Infections Disease Preparedness and Response plan.

  • Consider where, how and what sources of COVID-19 exposures might impact workers.
  • Take into consideration individual risk factors
    • Age
    • Medical conditions
    • Pregnancy

The response plan should include basic infection prevention measures. 

  • Train all employees on the Universal Precautions and encourage strict adherence.
  • Ensure supplies of sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, cleaners and PPE are not depleted.
  • Develop and implement policies for identification and isolation of sick employees.
  • Encourage employees to self-monitor and report any signs or symptoms promptly.

Develop contingency plans for increased absenteeism, working remotely, downsizing operations, staggering work shifts, and other measures to reduce exposures.

  • Focus on maintaining essential operation.
  • Include cross-training to do more with less.
  • Do not forget to evaluate potentially interrupted supplies and delayed deliveries.


RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CLEANING/DISINFECTING WORKPLACES FOR COVID-19

The following recommended disinfection procedures are based on the CDC’s Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations for US community facilities with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. 

When designing cleaning and disinfecting protocols, the primary concern is the route of transmission. Current knowledge of COVID-19 is that spread of the virus occurs person-to-person via respiratory droplets (e.g. coughing and sneezing). It is unknown how long virus particles will remain viable on surfaces where the droplets may deposit, but it most likely is only hours, depending on the droplet size, type (saliva or mucus), humidity, temperature, and surface type. However, it is imperative to note that transmission of COVID-19 to persons from surfaces contaminated with the virus has not been documented.

Given the limited route of transmission, disinfection should be curtailed to areas reasonably expected to catch droplets, (e.g. surfaces within about six feet of an infected individual’s path through the facility or in proximity to their workstation). The aim of these procedures is to kill all surface-deposited virus within identified areas suspected of contamination. 

First, a period needs to elapse to allow potential contaminated droplets to settle to surfaces. The CDC recommends waiting up to 24 hours. However, this should occur rapidly, within seconds to an hour or so, even for very fine aerosols. The CDC also recommends opening outside doors and windows to increase circulation during this delay period.

The second most important consideration for COVID-19 potential infection and seriousness of disease is age and health of personnel. It is strongly recommended that cleaning staff be under 65 years of age and without underlying health conditions. This population has been shown to have infection rates much higher than younger individuals and more serious outcomes.

Third, all cleaning staff must be trained on COVID-19 exposure routes, symptoms, and proper PPE. PPE must be provided to all staff performing disinfection prior to performing duties. Cleaning and disinfecting measures can be divided into two main actions: routine or daily actions, and enhanced actions implemented following notification of an ill person or a confirmed COVID-19 case.

For more information regarding Cleaning and Disinfection for Community Facilities, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

Stay informed and plan ahead.  For more information about health issues and emergency preparedness, please visit the following websites:

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