New OSHA COVID-19 Guide for Manufacturers

Source: Michal Turczynowicz-Suszycki/123RF

With workers returning to manufacturing jobs, OSHA, in conjunction with the CDC, has issued a specific set of guidelines to help reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

Industry segments include apparel and footwear, battery, chemical, concrete, fireworks, food processing, lead smelters, lubricants, metal, plastics, furniture, automobile, printing, pulp and paper/paperboard mills, semiconductors, textiles and wood products.

  • Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.
  • Establish flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts), if feasible.
  • Practice sensible social distancing and maintain six feet between co-workers, where possible.
  • For work activities where social distancing is a challenge, consider limiting the duration of these activities and/or implementing innovative approaches, such as temporarily moving or repositioning workstations to create more distance or installing barriers (e.g., plexiglass shields) between workstations.
  • Monitor public health communications about COVID-19 recommendations for the workplace and ensure that workers have access to and understand that information.
  • Train workers on how to properly put on, use/wear, take-off, and maintain protective clothing and equipment.
  • Allow workers to wear masks over their nose and mouth to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Encourage respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.
  • Discourage workers from using other workers’ tools and equipment.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency-approved cleaning chemicals from List N or that have label claims against the coronavirus.
  • Promote personal hygiene. If workers do not have access to soap and water for handwashing, provide alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Provide disinfectants and disposable towels workers can use to clean work surfaces.
  • Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns.

On June 15, OSHA also reminded all employers—regardless of industry—that they should remain mindful of their other, non-COVID-19-related safety obligations.

OSHA also made a specific point of reminding employers that the law prohibits them from retaliating against workers for raising concerns about safety and health conditions.

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