Are you wondering how the federal government’s workplace safety agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), classifies your specific risk to the coronavirus?
Here’s how OSHA ranks jobs by risk levels (Very High Exposure Risk, High Exposure Risk, Medium Exposure Risk, and Lower Exposure Risk):
- You’re at Very High Exposure Risk if your job has a high potential for exposure to known or suspected sources of COVID-19 during specific medical, postmortem, or laboratory procedures. Workers in this category include:
- 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).
- Morgue workers performing autopsies, which generally involve aerosol-generating procedures, on the bodies of people who are known to have, or suspected of having, COVID-19 at the time of their death.
- You’re at High Exposure Risk if there is a high potential for exposure to known or suspected sources of COVID-19. Workers in this category include:
- 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.
- Mortuary workers involved in preparing (e.g., for burial or cremation) the bodies of people who are known to have, or suspected of having, COVID-19 at the time of their death.
- You’re at Medium Exposure Risk if your work requires frequent and/or close contact with (i.e., within 6 feet of) people who may be infected with SARS-CoV-2, but who are not known or suspected COVID-19 patients. In areas without ongoing community transmission, workers in this risk group may have frequent contact with travelers who may return from international locations with widespread COVID-19 transmission. In areas where there is ongoing community transmission, workers in this category may have contact be with the general public (e.g., in schools, high-population-density work environments, and some high-volume retail settings). Workers in this category include:
- Airport workers.
- Retail cashiers and clerks of virtually every kind, whose separation from customers is often just 12-36 inches.
- For-hire drivers (Uber, Lyft, cab drivers)
- Service workers (delivery drivers, floor associates, pet store employees, real estate agents, law enforcement and firefighters, teachers, lawyers, therapists and counselors, and others who work in large undivided offices, such as government employees).
- You’re at Lower Exposure Risk if your job is one that does not require contact with people known to be, or suspected of being, infected with SARS-CoV-2 nor frequent close contact with (i.e., within 6 feet of) the general public. Workers in this category have minimal occupational contact with the public and other coworkers.
We will continue to frequently post informational bulletins during the coronavirus crisis. Our next article will contain suggestions on how to demand safe workplaces from your employer. That article should be posted in the next 24 hours. If you have questions about your workplace, please call us, free, at 800-663-7999. The flood of inquiries from concerned employees continues to alarm us, and suggests that most employers still are not providing anything even remotely close to adequate protection for their workforces.
And that is unlawful.
Categories: Coronavirus COVID 19