Federal agencies Wholesale and retail trade Workplace exposures

COVID-19 pandemic: Retail workers focus of new OSHA alert

Photo: zoranm/iStockphoto

Washington — In an effort to protect retail employees from exposure to COVID-19, OSHA has issued a safety alert.

Released April 8, the guidance provides nine tips for employers and workers at pharmacies, supermarkets, big-box stores and other retail establishments to help reduce the risk of contracting – and spreading – the potentially deadly respiratory disease. In addition to encouraging workers to stay home when ill, OSHA recommends:

  • Regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and equipment with products listed by the Environmental Protection Agency as effective at preventing and reducing the spread of the disease.
  • Providing handwashing stations or hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Practicing physical distancing of at least 6 feet. Some retailers have marked 6-foot distances with floor tape. In cases where this is not possible, opening up every other checkout line, moving workstations apart from each other, or installing partitions between workers and customers can be effective.
  • Using a drive-thru window or curbside pickup.
  • Providing workers and customers with tissues and trash cans.
  • Educating workers about proper hygiene practices and the use of workplace controls.
  • Allowing workers to wear masks over their nose and mouth to prevent potential spread of the disease.
  • Encouraging workers to report health and safety concerns.

The alert is available in English and Spanish.

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