The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidance regarding workers in office buildings that may be at risk for exposure to the COVID-19 virus. The guidance addresses steps that office building employers, building owners and managers, and building operations specialists can take to provide a more safe and healthy workplace and protect workers and clients.
Items addressed in this guidance include:
- Creating a COVID-19 workplace health and safety plan.
- Checking the building to verify that it is ready for occupancy.
- Ensuring that ventilation systems are operating properly.
- Increasing circulation of outdoor air as much as reasonably possible.
- Evaluating the building and its mechanical and life safety systems to determine if the building is ready for occupancy.
- Identifying where and how workers might be exposed to COVID-19 at work.
- Conducting a thorough hazard assessment of the workplace to identify potential workplace hazards that could increase risks for COVID-19 transmission.
- Identifying work and common areas where employees could have close contact (within 6 feet) with others — for example meeting rooms, break rooms, the cafeteria, locker rooms, check-in areas, waiting areas, and routes of entry and exit.
- Including all employees in the workplace in communication plans — for example management, staff, utility employees, relief employees, janitorial staff, maintenance staff, and supervisory staff.
- Developing plans to communicate with any contractors employed in the workplace, regarding modifications to work processes and requirements for the contractors to prevent transmission of COVID-19.
- Developing hazard controls using the hierarchy of controls to reduce transmission among workers, including a combination of engineering controls, administrative controls, and educational measures. Recommended considerations and controls are included in the guidance.
The guidance references other sources for more information:
- CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers (COVID-19)
- CDC General Business Frequently Asked Questions
- NIOSH COVID-19 Workplace Safety and Health Topic
- CDC COVID-19
- OSHA COVID-19
- OSHA Guidelines on Preparing Workplaces for COVID
- AIHA Reopening: Guidance for General Office Settings
- Building Owners & Managers Association International (BOMA): Getting Back to Work: Preparing Buildings for Re-Entry Amid COVID-19
- CDCINFO: 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) | TTY: 1-888-232-6348 | website: cdc.gov/info
Those providing office-place employment settings will want to consider this guidance in their continuing efforts to address COVID-19.