OSHA COVID-19 Safety Guidelines

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a series of guidelines and recommendations for keeping workers safe. While some general standards have been developed that can be applied to nearly all industries, OSHA has also developed industry-specific guidelines. Consider some of the following recommended OSHA COVID-19 safety guidelines and reach out to our law firm directly if you have questions specific to your industry or if you’ve contracted COVID-19 at work.

 Key OSHA Standards for COVID-19

Key standards for COVID-19 are found online at OSHA.gov. These standards are designed to prevent occupational exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Some of the most important standards relate to the use of PPE. In general industry and construction, OSHA requires the use of:

  • Gloves
  • Eye and face protection
  • Respiratory protection (when job hazards warrant it)

If respirators are necessary, they must be used in accordance with the respiratory protection standards.

Long-term Care Facility Workers

 For workers in long-term care facilities, respiratory protection is especially important, and OSHA has designed a set of guidelines for these workers. Recommendations include:

  • Not using cloth face coverings in place of an FDA-cleared or authorized surgical mask;
  • Using a NIOSH-approved N95 FFR or equivalent or higher-level respirator when in close contact with a long-term care facility resident with suspected or confirmed COVID-19; and
  • Choosing eye and face protection that can be worn safely together, ensuring that the choice of eye and face protection does not interfere with the seal of the respirator.

Construction Workers

 OSHA recommends that construction businesses take precautions to prevent the spread of the disease. These precautions include erecting plastic sheets as barriers when workers need to occupy an indoor space and are in close contact (within six feet); training and educating employees on the spread of the disease; closely following all recommended infection prevention measures; ensuring that shared spaces have good airflow; and more.

Retail Operations Workers

 Workers in retail may be at a high risk of contracting COVID-19 based on the fact that they have increased exposure with the public, and may be deemed essential workers who continue to go to work during the pandemic. This includes food retail workers. Recommendations for protecting these workers include:

  • Using physical barriers, such as plexiglass screens, when possible to separate retail workers from the general public (such as at checkout lines);
  • Providing waiting areas for customers waiting to check out that are at least six feet from the register and the retail worker;
  • Directing customers to self-checkout whenever possible to minimize contact with workers;
  • Establishing protocols for sanitation, including wiping down surfaces and credit card terminals;
  • Increasing the number of short breaks provided to retail workers during a shift in order to allow time for proper handwashing;
  • Ensuring that workers have access to adequate PPE for their jobs, which may include providing gloves, eye, and additional face protection for some workers for certain tasks.


 Guidance for COVID-19 protection and prevention for farmworkers, as indicated by OSHA, should not only consider the worksite itself, but also the workers’ housing and transportation, too. OSHA recommends:

  • Grouping workers together in small cohorts in an attempt to prevent spread;
  • Maximizing opportunities to place workers who are residing together in the same vehicles for transportation;
  • Providing basic information about the COVID-19 disease and how it is spread to workers in their own language; and
  • Creating a COVID-19 assessment and control plan in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines as well as state and local health departments.

Additionally, workers should be screened and monitored for symptoms, and workers with symptoms, including a fever, should not be allowed to enter the workplace.

Rights of Workers During COVID-19

If you are working during the COVID-19 pandemic, you have the right to workplace protections. If you have questions about the specific protections to which you are entitled, please call our OSHA Injury Attorney. COVID-19 is a very serious disease that can lead to severe complications and, in serious cases, death. If you believe that your employer is violating your rights and is failing to implement recommended safety guidelines, call an attorney immediately.

If you contract COVID-19 at work, you have certain rights. In some cases, you may have the right to workers’ compensation insurance. You cannot be retaliated against for not coming to work if you test positive for the disease. To learn more about these and other rights, call our firm. Our priority is to make sure that workers understand their rights and how to stay safe in the workplace.

OSHA Injury Attorney’s Mission

COVID-19 is scary and, for workers who are continuing to work in-person during the pandemic, there may be many questions about the risks of contracting COVID-19 and one’s rights. If you have questions, believe your employer is violating your rights, or if you have contracted COVID-19 at work, you need an OSHA injury lawyer on your side. If you have concerns about your employer’s failure to meet COVID-19 safety guidelines or if you have been injured on the job, please complete our contact form and we will forward your information to a qualified workplace injury attorney.

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