There is no evidence at this time of widespread transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States. Most USA workers are not at significant risk of infection since there is no sustained human-to-human transmission. Regardless, it may still make sense to pause and consider developing or revising your contagious disease policy as well as ensuring that contagious disease epidemics are considered as an important component of your business continuity plan.
In addition, there are concerns in organizations with elevated exposure risk due to employees interacting with potentially infected travelers from abroad, including those involved in:
- Travel to areas, including parts of China and other countries, where the virus is spreading
- Airline operations
Investigation continues regarding transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19. What is known is that Infected individuals can spread COVID-19 via respiratory secretions similar to the transmission of the flu and other respiratory infections such as from coughing or sneezing, when in close contact, about 6 feet. Unlike other transmissible infections, it is currently unknown if a person can contract COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that is contaminated with the virus and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
It is advisable to consider the risk level at your organization and the impact if something occurs. We encourage developing a contagious disease control policy with a broader objective than COVID-19 alone. Components of your policy might include,
- The impact to employees, customers, processing, your supply chain
- Roles and Responsibilities
- A Severity Response Matrix
- Methods of Control
Also, consider OSHA standards that apply to protecting employees from disease exposure. Of note is that this includes 29CFR 1904 Recordkeeping. Although 29CFR 1904 exempts the spread of colds and flu in the workplace from being OSHA recordable, COVID-19 is considered a recordable illness when an employee is infected while on the job.
Please contact us if you have any questions or for assistance in developing your organization’s policy and/or business continuity plan.