Share Published In August 2020 Electrical Contractor
Toolbox Talk is a series of informational guides designed to help contractors hold short safety meetings on the job site. Use the provided discussion questions to help start a safety conversation.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)CoV-2 virus. The current mutation is a new strain of the SARS virus, and no individual has any immunity prior to an exposure. While a vaccine is being developed, for now, everyone should prepare and plan for possible impacts resulting from COVID-19.
OSHA, the CDC and the World Health Organization have websites with the latest information on coronavirus. While no new specific employer requirements related to COVID-19 are going into effect, general rules, universal precautions and other work practices should be implemented to address worker and public concerns.
OSHA’s “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, OSHA Publication 3990” provides details for worker protection. Employers and workers should follow these general practices to help prevent exposure to coronavirus:
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and running water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Employers of workers with potential occupational exposures to coronavirus should follow these practices:
- Assess the hazards to which workers may be exposed.
- Evaluate the risk of exposure.
- Select, implement and ensure workers use controls to prevent exposure. These include physical barriers to control the spread of the virus, social distancing and appropriate PPE, hygiene and cleaning supplies.
Employers should review company policies and contracts on sick leave, family and medical leave and other federal regulations protecting employer and employee rights. Additional recommended practices related to COVID-19 include providing hand wash stations and hand sanitizer where hand wash stations do not exist. Also, providing tissue—to cover the mouth and nose during coughing and sneezing—and proper trash receptacles helps isolate germs and protect additional workers from exposure.
Workers should remember, if you are sick or show any signs of fever or other symptoms, you should stay home (except to seek medical care from a licensed healthcare provider). Also, avoid public areas, public gatherings and public transportation. Isolate yourself from your family and also pets that could transmit viruses to others. Clean and disinfect surfaces regularly, including items you touch repeatedly and, if possible, use disposable cups and glasses to minimize exposures. Wear a cloth face covering in public settings; it is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
- What is the best technique for washing and sanitizing hands?
- What are universal precautions related to communicable exposures in the workplace?
- What should an employee do if they experience fever or show signs of respiratory issues before going to work?