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 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

Cleaning and disinfecting your facility

Keeping your facility clean is a foundational element to protecting your employees, vendors and customers.

Wear disposable gloves and gowns for all tasks in the cleaning process, including handling trash.

  • Additional personal protective equipment (PPE) might be required based on the cleaning/disinfectant products being used and whether there is a risk of splash.
  • Gloves and gowns should be removed carefully to avoid contamination of the wearer and the surrounding area.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.

  • Always wash immediately after removing gloves and after contact with a person who is sick.
  • Hand sanitizer: If soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol may be used. However, if hands are visibly dirty, always wash hands with soap and water.

Additional key times to wash hands include:

  • After blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • After using the restroom.
  • Before eating or preparing food.
  • After contact with animals or pets.
  • Before and after providing routine care for another person who needs assistance (e.g., a child).

Hand Washing Video CDC Guidance for Cleaning & Disinfecting

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.

Mask Safety

If masks are worn, it’s important to note they must be properly used. Be mindful of not touching your face as some people actually touch their faces more when wearing a mask. 

Cloth face coverings should:

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops
  • Include multiple layers of fabric
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Download the PDF  Mask Safety Video

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
  • 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.

Supporting a Remote Workforce

As individuals begin to settle into working remotely it’s important to consider the following information to ensure a safer and more optimized workspace.

Workstation ergonomics:

  • Shoulders should be low and back, not reaching forward, causing strain on the neck.
  • Wrists should be flat and not resting on a hard surface.
  • Lower back should be supported with good posture and placing the contour of the chair in line with the lumbar.
  • Feet should be flat on the ground. If they are not in contact with the ground, a footrest should be utilized.
  • Knees should be angled between 90 and 120 degrees. Hips should be slightly higher than the knees.
  • Elbows should be angled at 90 degrees or greater to reduce nerve compression.

Stretching is a great way to reduce the risk of sprain and strain injuries. A simple reminder is the 15/15/15 rule; every 15 minutes, take a 15 second break by looking 15 feet away.

Workstation setup:

  • Adjust position and height of monitor(s) to reduce glare and eye strain.
  • Adjust chair to proper height for feet and knees and align the back for lumbar support.
  • Adjust keyboard position to alleviate elbow and wrist strains.
  • Adjust mouse placement so wrist is straight and in line with your keyboard height.

Remember, integrate movement into the workday. Try to move 3-5 minutes every hour. You can use Outlook or your phone for reminders. Don’t forget to stand when using the phone.

Here are some helpful tips:

Policies and Procedures

It’s important to review existing policies and procedures. Consider what continues or what may need to stop. Examples include policies related to:

  • Travel
  • Returning to work
  • Guests and visitors
  • Working from home

Print off your Ready Bag checklist

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Reopening the Workplace

Creating a Safe Workplace

Managing Well-Being

Sharing Practices

Resources by Industry

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Healthcare Information

Review information about COVID-19 symptoms, ways to protect yourself, answers to frequently asked questions, articles from our Parkview Health experts, and more.

Vaccine Information


Indiana COVID-19 Data Report

Indiana COVID-19 Testing Sites

How to Wear a Mask Properly

The Importance of Social Distancing

Stop the Spread of Germs


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.