What administrative controls can I use to reduce transmission of illnesses?

To reduce the transmission of respiratory illnesses in your workplace, it’s important to conduct a hazard assessment and follow the hierarchy of controls, a framework that helps to determine options for controlling workplace hazards. In this case, the hazard is an illness such as COVID-19, which is easily spread from person to person. OSHA has developed guidance for businesses and employers to respond to exposure to respiratory illness in the workplace. Their recommendations for infection prevention follow the hierarchy of controls.

The best way to control a hazard is to remove it from the workplace. In the event it’s not possible to fully eliminate the hazard, one of the most effective protective measures is to implement administrative controls. These are controls that rely on action by employers and workers to help reduce the transmission of illness. Which administrative controls you implement will depend on the level of risk of exposure to COVID-19 in your facility.

Administrative Controls for Jobs Classified at Lower Exposure Risk

The majority of workers will fall under this lower risk of exposure to illness. In this case, employers must:

  • Monitor public health recommendations by checking the CDC’s website on COVID-19, and ensure that workers have access to this information
  • Collaborate with employees to create an effective means of communicating important information on the transmission of illness

Administrative Controls for Jobs Classified at Medium Exposure RiskFor Your Safety Catch It Toss It Kill It

Jobs at medium risk are ones that require frequent close contact with people who could potentially be infected but are not known or confirmed to have an illness. This includes workers at airports and other types of international travel, high volume retail settings, and schools. In this case, employers must:

  • Consider offering face masks to contain respiratory secretions
  • Post signs about COVID-19 in stores in order to keep customers informed about illness symptoms, and ask sick customers to minimize their contact with workers
  • Consider implementing strategies that minimize face-to-face contact such as creating drive-through services, phone-based communications, or asking people to work from home 

Administrative Controls for Jobs Classified at High or Very High Exposure Risk

Jobs at the highest risk of exposure include ones in healthcare facilities, morgues, and medical transportation (ambulance drivers and other first responders). In this case, employers must:

In most cases, a combination of personal protective equipment (PPE) and hazard controls are effective in reducing the transmission of respiratory illness in the workplace.


View all Social Distancing Q&A


Free E-Book

PPE Guide

Make sure employees are properly protected with the right PPE for the job.

Other FREE Resources:

Helpful Resources