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OSHA Advice During COVID-19

26 March, 2020

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While many contractors and painters are staying home, there is still some opportunity for others to work, depending on state or municipal policies. OSHA doesn’t have any specific standards covering operation during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the organization noted that there are some OSHA requirements that employers can apply towards preventing occupational exposure to COVID-19. Vigilant enforcement of some regulations already in place is a good start toward stopping the spread of the virus.

Among the most relevant are OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standards, which require using gloves, eye and face protection, and respiratory protection. “When respirators are necessary to protect workers, employers must implement a comprehensive respiratory protection program in accordance with the Respiratory Protection standard,” they say. It’s also important that respirators fit properly. More information on selecting and fitting respirators is available in this article from an earlier edition of APC.

Another issue is disinfection. As cleaning and disinfection take on more importance, be aware that some common sanitizers and sterilizers can contain hazardous chemicals, and that painters need to be protected from exposure to these chemicals.

OSHA recommended that business owners check into the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard rule under the California division of OSHA. “While the Cal/OSHA ATD standard is only mandatory for certain healthcare employers in California, it may provide useful guidance for protecting other workers exposed to COVID-19,” they said.

It may be a good idea to remind your crew of the following guidelines; while they’ve been said plenty, things can be forgotten in the quest to get a job done.

  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and running water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands that are visibly soiled.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

For interior work, make sure to ventilate the area as much as possible to increase the flow of outside air. OSHA’s guidelines for safe business practice are available here...

OSHA also included an anti-discrimination reminder. “Do not make determinations of risk based on race or country of origin and be sure to maintain confidentiality of people with confirmed coronavirus infection.”

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