As businesses begin to open back up amid the Coronavirus pandemic many people are asking if employees need to wear face coverings or PPE, like respirators and gloves, at work. The decision to do so greatly depends on the type of work that is being performed and the rate at which that workplace is exposed to the Coronavirus. Exposure risk comes in four different categories: extremely high, high, medium, and low when calculating infection rates.
Very high exposure risk occupations often occur in the healthcare department where the presence of known or suspected cases of Covid-19 are present during specific medical procedures, like that of intubation. It is also present in postmortem and laboratory procedures. The next step down are those who work in high-risk environments. These jobs also often occur in a medical environment involving those who are healthcare and delivery support staff, ambulance vehicle operators, and mortuary workers. The need to have PPE available for use in both of these high-risk groups is essential for them to stay safe and healthy. According to the FDA, PPE such as N95 masks should be reserved for them.
Employees that work in medium risk environments often work within 6 feet of others who may have Covid-19 but are not known or suspected to have contracted it. These can be jobs such as a school environment and some high-volume retail settings. Lastly, a low risk occupation does not have the presence of other coworkers or the public in any frequency during working hours. Overall, these two categories have a much lower chance of contracting the virus, but it doesn’t mean they don’t have the option of trying to protect themselves and others even further. Facial coverings like cloth masks and utilizing proper social distancing will help mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
- What administrative controls can I use to reduce transmission of illnesses?
- What OSHA standards apply to reopening facilities?
- How should workplaces implement exposure controls?
- Do employers have a duty to prevent worker exposure to COVID-19 infection?
- How can I protect workers interacting with customers?
- What are some basic protective measures against the new coronavirus?
- What workplace safety concerns need to be addressed as employees return to work?
- How can employers best protect employees from exposure in the workplace?