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COVID-19 Pandemic

New OSHA Guidance:

  • Protecting Employees in Workplace: 2021 Guidance
  • OSHA Webpage for COVID-19 Guidance by Industry: Industries
  • CDC Guidance for Workplace Ventilation during COVID-19: Ventilation

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), COVID-19 is now a pandemic, meaning a global outbreak of disease. On March 13, 2020, the President of the United States declared the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency. The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading in communities.

In May 2020, CDC published Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The guidance states the role of businesses and employers can prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19 within the workplace. Employers should respond in a way that takes into account the level of disease transmission in their communities and revise their business response plans as needed. Employers should follow the White House Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, a phases approach based on current levels of transmission and healthcare capacity at the state or local level, as part of resuming business operations. Business operation decisions should be based on both the level of disease transmission in the community and your readiness to protect the safety and health of your employees and customers.

Getting Back to Work Resources:

Helpful OSHA Documents for Employers:

N95 Respirators:

During this National Crisis, there are unscrupulous manufacturers and distributors labeling respirators as NIOSH Approved N95 Masks. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has two webpages to assist employers and citizens with identifying a respirator that has be tested and certified by NIOSH and a page that shows counterfeit masks.

NIOSH has a Certified Equipment List, which has the manufacturer name and the type of testing completed for a respirator and the testing and certification (TC) number for the mask. 

Whistleblower Information

Workers’ Rights and Employers’ Responsibilities:

Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, 29 USC 660(c), prohibits employers from retaliating against workers for raising concerns about safety and health conditions. Additionally, OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the provisions of more than 20 industry-specific federal laws protecting employees from retaliation for raising or reporting concerns about hazards or violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, securities and tax laws. OSHA encourages workers who suffer such retaliation to submit a complaint to OSHA as soon as possible in order to file their complaint within the legal time limits, some of which may be as short as 30 days from the date they learned of or experienced retaliation. An employee can file a complaint with OSHA by visiting or calling his or her local OSHA office; sending a written complaint via fax, mail or email to the closest OSHA office; or filing a complaint online. No particular form is required and complaints may be submitted in any language.

OSHA provides recommendations intended to assist employers in creating workplaces that are free of retaliation and guidance to employers on how to properly respond to workers who may complain about workplace hazards or potential violations of federal laws. OSHA urges employers to review its publication: Recommended Practices for Anti-Retaliation Programs (OSHA 3905 - 01/2017).