April 13, 2020

Managing the Healthcare Workplace During the COVID-19 Outbreak

By Karen M. Buesing, Esq., Akerman LLP, Tampa, FL, and Martin R. Dix, Esq., Akerman LLP, Tallahassee, FL

Healthcare providers have special concerns for their employees during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global health pandemic.

Because COVID-19 spreads primarily as a result of close exposure to an infected person, healthcare employees are at higher risk of infection. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a standard to protect employees from the spread of bloodborne pathogens1 and requires that employers provide employees personal protection equipment (PPE),2 it currently has no standard for the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19. However on March 9, 2020 OHSA issued  its Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, a 32-page document offering recommendations for keeping workplaces safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. OSHA noted in the preface that the guidance "is not a standard or regulation." However, it reminded employers of their general duty under OSHA to provide a workplace "free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm."

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