Protecting the Safety and Health of Workers - Transcript

Protecting the Safety and Health of Workers: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Using OSHA/CDC Guidance to protect workers as we bring workplaces online

All employees, including those already working (except healthcare workers, first responders, and others already trained in infection control, personal protection/universal precautions), must complete, and employers must document, this training on mandatory health and safety requirements, or another training program that meets or exceeds this VOSHA-provided training.

What is Novel Coronavirus?

  • Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause illness in people. Coronaviruses circulate among animals, including camels, cattle, and cats.
  • SARS-CoV-2, the seventh known human coronavirus and the virus that causes COVID-19,

How Does COVID-19 Spread?

  • The virus is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person.
  • The virus spreads by droplets made when people who are infected cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby or be inhaled into their lungs.
  • Not everyone who becomes infected has symptoms. People who are infected but do not show symptoms are still able to spread the virus to others.
  • It may be possible that a person can get the coronavirus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
  • Source: CDC

Signs and Symptoms of Infection

  • Not everyone infected with the COVID-19 virus has symptoms. When present, symptoms may be mild to severe and most often start 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
  • Symptoms include: Fever or chills, Cough, Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, Fatigue, Muscle or body aches, Headache, New loss of taste or smell, Sore throat, Congestion or runny nose, Nausea or vomiting, Diarrhea.
  • If you are having symptoms of COVID-19, call your provider. If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the hospital.
  • CDC’s Self Checker Tool:

Current Pandemic

If You Have Been Exposed/Infected

  • Prior to seeking treatment, alert your healthcare provider or occupational health clinic if you think you may have COVID-19.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have been exposed to someone with the virus and have signs/symptoms of infection, as well as about any recent travel to areas where COVID-19 has spread.
  • If you are having trouble breathing, or have any other concerning symptoms call 911 for immediate help.

Vaccines and Testing

  • Testing remains the most widely available and recommended way to determine whether someone has contracted SARS CoV2.
  • Under Emergency Use Authorization, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved multiple vaccines for used in the United States.
  • It is highly recommended that people become vaccinated.

Occupational Exposure Risks

  • OSHA is closely coordinating with CDC, including the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), and other agencies to monitor the ongoing pandemic.
  • The risk of exposure in many workplaces likely reflects the risk to the general public in the community where the workplace is located.
  • Risk can increase when workers have frequent, close contact with the general public or other co-workers.

Occupational Exposure Risks

  • Workers in some sectors may have increased risk of occupational exposure to COVID-19, including in:
    • Healthcare and Laboratories
    • Emergency response
    • Mortuary services and other deathcare
    • Airline operations
    • Border protection and passenger screening
    • Critical retail operations (e.g., grocery stores, pharmacies)
    • Current information on Occupational Safety Measures can be accessed at

Existing OSHA Standards Protect Workers from Exposure

  • Follow existing OSHA standards to help protect workers from exposure to the virus and infection with COVID-19.
  • Employers should also remember that OSHA can use the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1), of the Occupational Safety and Health Act to ensure that workers are protected from recognized safety and health hazards that may cause serious harm.

Sectors with Exposure Risk – VERY HIGH

  • Healthcare workers (e.g., doctors, nurses, dentists, paramedics, EMTs) performing or present for aerosol-generating procedures (e.g., intubation, cough induction procedures, bronchoscopies, CPR, some dental procedures and exams, invasive specimen collection) on known or suspected COVID-19 patients.
  • Healthcare or laboratory personnel collecting or handling specimens from known or suspected COVID-19 patients.
  • Morgue workers performing autopsies on the bodies of people who are known to have or suspected of having COVID-19 at the time of their death.

Sectors with Exposure Risk – HIGH

  • Healthcare delivery and support staff (e.g. doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff who must enter patient rooms) exposed to known or suspected COVID-19 patients. (While NO aerosol generating procedures are being performed.)
  • Medical transport workers (e.g., ambulance vehicle operators) moving known or suspected COVID-19 patients in enclosed vehicles. 
  • Mortuary workers involved in preparing the bodies of people who are known to have or suspected of having COVID-19 at the time of their death.

Sectors with Exposure Risk – MEDIUM

  • Jobs that require frequent (i.e., more than a few minutes) and/or close (i.e., within 6 feet) contact with people who may be infected, but who are not known or suspected COVID-19 patients.
  • Examples include:
    • Critical retail workers, such as those in pharmacies and grocery stores.
    • Transit workers, such as bus drivers, subway operators, and taxi drivers.
    • Workers in other transportation operations.

Sectors with Exposure Risk – LOW (Caution)

  • Jobs that do not require contact with people known to be or suspected of being infected, nor frequent close contact with (within 6 feet) of the general public.
  • Workers in this category have minimal occupational contact with the public and other coworkers.

MANDATORY HEALTH AND SAFETY REQUIREMENTS FOR ALL BUSINESS, NON-PROFIT & GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS. All businesses must follow Vermont Department of Health and CDC Guidelines and VOSHA Standards

Mandatory Requirements

  • Employees shall not report to, or be allowed to remain at, work or job site if sick or symptomatic. The following is a list of symptoms:
    • Fever/Chills
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath/Difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle/Body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste/Smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion/Runny nose
    • Nausea/Vomiting
    • Diarrhea

Mandatory Requirements

  • COVID-19 positive workers, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not, are not allowed on site.
  • Any unvaccinated worker(s) who have close contact with a person who is diagnosed with COVID-19 are required to quarantine for 14 days with the option to test out of quarantine on day 7 or later.
  • See What to do if you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 for more information on quarantine.

Mandatory Requirements

  • Signs must be posted at all entrances clearly indicating that no one may enter if they have symptoms of respiratory illness.
  • To the extent feasible, prior to the commencement of each work shift, prescreening or survey shall be required to verify each employee has no symptoms of respiratory illness (fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath), including temperature checks.

Mandatory Requirements

  • Temperature checks
  • A temperature of 100.4°F/38°C or higher, is considered a fever, as according to the CDC
  • Noncontact Thermometers should be used for this

Mandatory Requirements

  • All employees must observe strict physical distancing of 6 feet while on the job, unless noted, and should refrain from touching their faces.
  • No congregation of employees is allowed

Mandatory Requirements

Mandatory Requirements

  • At the entrances of the designated common area or room the employer shall clearly post the policy limiting the occupancy of the space, and the minimum physical distancing, hand washing/hand sanitizing and space cleaning requirements.

Mandatory Requirements

  • The employer shall limit occupancy of designated common area or room in accordance with the current phase of the Vermont Forward Plan. The Employer shall enforce the occupancy limit.

Mandatory Requirements

  • Employees shall be required to wipe down their area prior to leaving -or there shall be cleaning of the area at regular intervals throughout the day
  • Hand washing facilities and/or hand sanitizer shall be immediately available at entrances of designated common area or room.

Mandatory Requirements

  • When working inside, open doors and windows to promote air flow to the greatest extent possible and limit the number of people occupying a single indoor space.

Mandatory Requirements

  • Employees must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when in the presence of others. In the case of retail cashiers, a translucent shield or “sneeze guard” is acceptable in lieu of a mask.

Mandatory Requirements

  • All common spaces and equipment, including bathrooms, frequently touched surfaces and doors, tools and equipment, and vehicles must be cleaned and disinfected, at least once per shift.

Mandatory Requirements

  • Employees must have easy and frequent access to soap and water or hand sanitizer during duration of work, and handwashing or hand sanitization is required frequently including before entering, and leaving, job sites.

Mandatory Requirements



Have a Plan

  • Start with assessing the hazards in your workplace
  • Just as in all other hazards, the “Hierarchy of Controls” is an important concept


  • Tasks should be evaluated for the possibility of working remotely
  • Meetings/conferences and trainings should be done via the internet/virtually
  • Client/patient services should be done via the internet/virtually
  • Employee-to-employee contact should be eliminated by spreading out workstations
  • Employees should be encouraged to stay home if they feel ill in any way. THIS SHOULD BE UNIFORMLY COMMUNICATED
  • If feasible, temperature screening employees should be done

Engineering Controls

  • Consider physical barriers to prevent spread;
  • i.e. workstation barriers
  • i.e. sneeze guards for cashiers
  • Isolation of tasks should be considered where possible
  • Ventilation patterns and air change rates can assist in lessening contamination

Administrative and Work Practice Controls

  • Work Practice Controls can be very effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19
  • Understand the basic principles of prevention:
  • Physical Distancing:  Physical distancing is when people are able to maintain a minimum of 6 feet apart.
  • Personal Cleanliness: Hand washing facilities and hand sanitizing must be provided, readily available, and their use must be encouraged.
  • Work Surface Cleanliness: Employers should implement protocols for regularly cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces in the work environment.
  • Wipe down surfaces such as door push bars, shopping carts, points of sale machines, chairs in waiting areas, and other areas that customers, visitors, or workers frequently touch.

Employee Training

  • Train all workers about their risk of occupational exposure to COVID-19 as well as on what to do if they have been exposed to possible cases.
  • For workers at particular risk of exposure (e.g., in healthcare sectors), discuss:
  • Sources of exposure to the virus and hazards associated with that exposure.
  • Appropriate ways to prevent or reduce the likelihood of exposure, including use of engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and PPE.
  • Some OSHA standards (e.g., BBP, PPE) require worker training.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Make sure there is a good understanding of what is and what is not considered PPE.
  • Examples of PPE are:
    • Masks vs. Respirators: Know the difference in masks versus respirators and apply appropriately

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Gloves: various gloves protect against varying hazards, most commonly, medical grade
  • Nitryl or latex gloves are used to protect against pathogenic hazards

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Body Protection: Most often varying forms of protective suits are worn to protect from pathogenic hazards.
  • In the case of facilities with direct contact of known or suspected COVID-19 infectious subjects, Tyvek, full body suits can be worn.
  • However! To be impervious to the maximum of the design, all seems should be sealed

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Eye/face protection: Eye protection should also be worn for those involved in the direct contact of known or suspected COVID-19 infectious subjects. Eye protection should provide side protection at the least. Face shield make excellent protection, especially when used in conjunction with eye protection



Know the Plan

  • Your employer should have a plan to protect you from spread of COVID-19 and as an employee you should ask and understand this plan.
  • The plan will encompass the following concepts to protect workers from COVID-19:
    • Modifying the workplace (shields/barriers, moving workstations)
    • Physical Distancing
    • Cleanliness
    • Personal Protective equipment
    • Face coverings

Physical Distancing

  • Physical distancing means keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home and is an important means of protection from exposure and spread.
  • Stay at least 6-feet from other people.
  • Do not gather in groups.
  • Any face-to-face contact less than 6-feet should only be done in conjunction with wearing a mask.
  • More on physical distancing from the CDC:

Stay Home, Stay Safe

Hand Washing/Hand Sanitizing

  • Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick.
  • For all workers, regardless of specific exposure risks:
  • Practice good and frequent hand hygiene.
  • Follow good cough/sneeze etiquette
  • Avoid touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Use hand sanitizer when you can’t use soap and water
  • More on handwashing from the CDC:

Hand Washing/Hand Sanitizing

  • Follow these five steps every time.
  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Masks and Face Coverings

  • Masks are an important tool in protection from the spread of COVID-19 virus. In addition to the Governor’s Executive Order, the CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • Employees must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when in the presence of others.
  • In the case of retail cashiers, a translucent shield or “sneeze guard” is acceptable in lieu of a mask.


Links to Helpful Documents

For Continual Updates


  • *By completing the certificate, you certify that you have completed this training and understand the safety guidance provided.
  • Please complete the fillable certificate and provide a copy to your employer. Keep a copy for your record as well.
    • *See next slide for instructions on how to save a copy of your certificate to your computer*
  • To download your Certificate of Completion for this training, please visit:

Contact Information

COVID-19 Update: Department of Labor offices are currently closed due to COVID-19. Please contact the Department by phone.

Vermont Department of Labor
5 Green Mountain Drive
P.O. Box 488
Montpelier, 05601-0488
(802) 828-4000

Department Directory