May 2020 CDC and OSHA Reopening Guidance


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have issued new COVID-19 guidance to employers as of May 2020.

The guidance applies to workplaces and employers generally and to specific industries, such as bars and restaurants, manufacturing, child care, schools, and mass transit.

CDC Reopening Guidance

The CDC provides generic “decision tools” to assist in the reopening of workplaces and specific instruction for bars and restaurants, child care programs, youth programs and camps, schools, and mass transit.  The guidance sets forth basic questions in three stages. Only by answering “yes” to all questions in each stage can the employer move to the next stage of questions and finally, reopen.

  • The first stage of questions asks if the reopening is consistent with governmental orders and if high-risk employees will be protected.
  • The second asks questions related to health and safety actions, such as handwashing, masking, cleaning and disinfecting, social distancing, and employee training.
  • The third addresses ongoing monitoring, through protocols for addressing illness in the workplace, communications with local health authorities, and flexible leave policies.

On May 6, 2020, the CDC updated its Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019  with strategies and recommendations for employers seeking to reopen, such as:

  • Conducting daily health checks.
  • Conducting a hazard assessment of the workplace.
  • Encouraging employees to wear cloth face coverings in the workplace, if appropriate.
  • Implementing policies and practices for social distancing in the workplace.
  • Improving the building ventilation system.

The CDC further provides a table outlining the engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE) that employers may use to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

CDC and OSHA Provide Joint Guidance for Manufacturing Workers and Employers

On May 12, 2020, the CDC and OSHA jointly issued Interim Guidance for Manufacturing Workers and Employers. Although targeted at manufacturing, this detailed guidance provides a good overview of reopening issues for employers in other industries.

This guidance provides information and recommendations on topics including:

  • Worker exposure risk (assessing distance, duration, and type of contact).
  • Creating a COVID-19 assessment and control plan (including the identification of a qualified workplace coordinator, communication with governmental health authorities, and establishment of workplace contact tracing).
  • Engineering controls (including changes to facilities and layouts, and production processes).
  • Administrative controls (including use of face masks, employee workplace access and scheduling, as well as leave policies and worker access to hand-washing or sanitizing facilities).
  • Education and training of workers and supervisors on reducing spread of COVID-19 (including through posters in relevant languages other than English).
  • Cleaning and disinfection.
  • Screening and monitoring for illness (including verbal screening and temperature checks), as well as returning to work after illness.
  • Determining if personal protective equipment is required, and properly training on and implementing such use.
  • Workers’ rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to be protected from retaliation for raising workplace safety concerns.

OSHA Issues Safety Alerts for Rideshare/Taxi/Car Service, Retail Pharmacies, Nursing Homes, Dental Practitioners, and Restaurant/Food and Beverage Businesses

As of May 2020, OSHA issued several alerts for the following:

These alerts list safety tips for each of the identified industries to help reduce risk of exposure to COVID-19. They are available in both English and Spanish.

The information provided by the CDC and OSHA is comprehensive.  Excelerator® offers HR guidance on how to implement CDC and OSHA instruction in your workplace.

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