Protecting Retail Pharmacy Workers During COVID-19 Pandemic

Source: Sherry Yates Young/123RF

As the lockdowns are being observed all over the globe and the national level pharmacy professionals are performing frontline roles, OSHA has issued an alert and safety tips for employers and workers in the retail pharmacy industry.

OSHA recommends that retail pharmacies follow the following safety measures:

  • Encourage customers to submit prescriptions online or by phone. Allow customers to provide their insurance information verbally or virtually (e.g., through mobile apps or the pharmacy’s website);
  • Increase the use of self-serve checkouts to minimize worker interaction with customers;
  • Frequently clean and disinfect checkout and customer service counters;
  • Install clear plastic barriers between workers and customers at order/pickup counters;
  • Use signage and floor markers to keep customers at least 6 feet from the counter, other customers and pharmacy staff; and
  • Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns. It is illegal to retaliate against workers for reporting illnesses or for reporting unsafe or unhealthful working conditions.

According to the CDC, everyone entering the pharmacy should wear a face covering for source control (i.e., to protect other people in case the person is infected), regardless of symptoms.

CDC recommends persons entering public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain wear a cloth face covering especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

OSHA has also published Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, a document aimed at helping workers and employers learn about ways to protect themselves and their workplaces during the ongoing pandemic.