The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published guidance on preparing workplaces for Coronavirus (COVID-19), outlining steps employers can take to help protect their workforce. OSHA has divided workplaces and work operations into 4 risk zones – these risk zones are useful in determining appropriate work practices and precautions.
1. Very High Exposure Risk
• Healthcare workers (e.g., doctors, nurses, dentists, paramedics, emergency medical technicians) performing aerosol-generating procedures (e.g., intubation, cough induction procedures, bronchoscopies, some dental procedures and exams, or invasive specimen collection) on known or suspected COVID-19 patients.
• Healthcare or laboratory personnel collecting or handling specimens from known or suspected COVID-19 patients (e.g., manipulating cultures from known or suspected COVID-19 patients).
2. High Exposure Risk
• Healthcare delivery and support staff (e.g., doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff who must enter patients’ rooms) exposed to known or suspected COVID-19 patients. (Note: when such workers perform aerosol-generating procedures, their exposure risk level becomes very high.)
• Medical transport workers (e.g., ambulance vehicle operators) moving known or suspected COVID-19 patients in enclosed vehicles.
3. Medium Exposure Risk
• Employees with high-frequency contact with the general population (e.g., in schools, high-population-density work environments, and some high-volume retail settings).
4. Lower Exposure Risk
• Employees who have minimal occupational contact with the public and other coworkers.