Creating a Safe Workplace


Controlling exposure to COVID-19 is key to protecting workers. The idea behind this hierarchy is that the control methods at the top of the graphic are potentially more effective and protective than those at the bottom. Following this hierarchy normally leads to the implementation of safer systems, where the risk of illness or injury has been substantially reduced.

hierarchy of controls in a pandemic


workplace controls


Elimination

Elimination controls involve removing the hazard from the workplace. This is the most effective step to reduce risk.

Examples of elimination controls for COVID-19 include:

  • Preventing ill employees from working
  • Performing frequent handwashing
  • Cleaning work areas more frequently

EPA Approved Disinfectants


Follow these guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Many business sectors have well-defined and ongoing guidelines for the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). For those industries that have no PPE requirements, common questions are those around the use of masks.

Recent studies show that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms and that even those who eventually develop symptoms can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.


Engineering Controls

Engineering controls involve isolating employees from work-related hazards. In workplaces where they are appropriate, these types of controls reduce exposure to hazards without relying on worker behavior and can be the most cost-effective solution to implement.

Engineering controls for COVID-19 include:

  • Installing high-efficiency air filters
  • Increasing ventilation rates in the work environment
  • Increasing ventilation rates in the work environment
  • Installing physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards
  • Installing a drive-through window for customer service
  • Specialized negative pressure ventilation in some settings, such as for aerosol generating procedures (e.g., airborne infection isolation rooms in healthcare settings and specialized autopsy suites in mortuary settings)

Administrative Controls

Administrative controls require action by the worker or employer. Typically, administrative controls are changes in work policy or procedures to reduce or minimize exposure to a hazard.

Examples of administrative controls for COVID-19 include:

  • Encouraging sick workers to stay at home. 
  • Minimizing contact among workers, clients, and customers by replacing face-to-face meetings with virtual communications and implementing telework if feasible. 
  • Establishing alternating days or extra shifts that reduce the total number of employees in a facility at a given time, allowing them to maintain distance from one another while maintaining a full onsite work week. 
  • Discontinuing nonessential travel to locations with ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks. Regularly check CDC travel warning levels at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers
  • Developing emergency communications plans, including a forum for answering workers’ concerns and internet-based communications, if feasible. 
  • Providing workers with up-to-date education and training on COVID-19 risk factors and protective behaviors (e.g., cough etiquette and care of PPE). 
  • Training workers who need to use protective clothing and equipment how to put it on, use/wear it, and take it off correctly, including in the context of their current and potential duties. Training material should be easy to understand and available in the appropriate language and literacy level for all workers.

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The information contained in this website is for informational purposes only in the context of declared public health emergencies related to COVID-19. Guidelines regarding COVID-19 change frequently and Parkview urges all organizations to consult with their own legal advisors and be aware of and follow all federal, state, and local guidelines as well as all guidelines, policies, and laws related to your specific industry or business sector.