About the COVIDSafe Plan

A COVIDSafe Plan is a list of health and safety actions. It is an important part of the occupational health and safety obligations of every workplace.

Preparing your COVIDSafe Plan

Every Victorian business or organisation with on-site operations should keep a COVIDSafe Plan at each workplace.

They should provide it to an Authorised Officer upon request and co-operate with any direction given by an authorised officer or WorkSafe inspector to modify the COVIDSafe plan. The plan should set out how the workplace will keep workers, customers and other attendees safe from COVID-19. It also helps to prepare for a case of COVID-19 in the workplace.

A COVIDSafe Plan should demonstrate how the business will:

  • manage a COVID-19 case at the workplace
  • address record keeping requirements, including the process for recording vaccination status of workers, if applicable to their sector
  • address relevant face mask and protective personal equipment requirements
  • take steps to mitigate the introduction of COVID-19 to the workplace
  • respond to any symptomatic worker or confirmed cases of COVID-19
  • document evidence of compliance with the COVIDSafe Plan.

Workplaces should also consider any other advice and requirements relevant to developing their COVIDSafe Plan – such as employment or occupational health and safety laws.

All workplaces should regularly review and update their COVIDSafe Plan to ensure it reflects the current COVIDSafe settings.

COVIDSafe Plan and workers

Employees should comply with the COVIDSafe Plan, so it is important they understand it. Employers should ask for their input, including from Health and Safety representatives, and provide training. Employees should be able to easily access a copy of the plan. This will ensure the plan is implemented and updated when circumstances change.

Download the Your COVIDSafe Plan template

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Business Continuity Plan

A 7-step guide to creating a business continuity plan for dealing with COVID-19.

Updated on June 25th, 2023

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A business continuity plan (BCP) is a strategic plan a business would follow to prevent and recover from major disruptions to business. Typically, businesses establish a continuity plan for natural disasters, such as floods, arson, and terrorism.

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak presented businesses with many unforeseen challenges due to its fast spread, global reach, and resulting lockdowns. This guide was created to help businesses modify and improve their business continuity plans during this time to be better prepared for the effects of the pandemic.

COVID-19 Business Continuity Plan Template

Use our general business continuity plan in Word format to help stay on task.

How to Prepare for COVID-19:

1. prioritize your employees' safety..

The well-being and health of your employees should be your top priority. Start by addressing the needs of employees who display COVID-19 symptoms. To keep your entire team safe, send any employees with flu-like symptoms home. In this scenario, ensure you maintain transparent communication with all your employees, as this will go a long way in reassuring them.

Look into remote working solutions. To do this, you'll need to determine if you have the tools, technology, and capacity to support a small or large remote team. In addition, you might need to consider introducing or expanding flexible work arrangements. Depending on your type of business and industry, businesses may also need to reorganize teams and reallocate resources.

One of the adjustments businesses have to make is to implement infection protection measures. You need to create a strategy that enables employees to continue to work without endangering them. You can do this by establishing employee well-being programs and policies that support a safe working environment.

2. Identify the risks and impact of COVID-19.

As a business, it's vital that you stay updated on the latest news and regulations put into place by government officials. This also provides you with more information to help identify the risks and overall impact COVID-19 will have on your business.

The following are possible impacts that businesses should consider:

Employees may be unable to travel to work due to travel restrictions put into place . For employees that make use of public transport, the risk of infection is much higher due to close contact with other individuals. Additionally, since schools are officially closed, many parents may be unable to attend work due to childcare issues.

Employees may be prohibited from attending work . In the case of national shutdowns, employees will be unable to enter workspaces.

A visible slowdown in sales. During a national shutdown, customers will be unable to purchase services and products, which will lead to a rapid decrease in sales.

Additional costs for hiring temporary employees . Depending on the type of business or industry you're based in, you may need to continue work during a national shutdown. This will generally require essential employees only and if essential employees are diagnosed with COVID-19, you will need to consider hiring temporary employees.

Diminished workforce performance. If your employees are forced to work remotely but do not have access to the same quality of resources and technology, you could see a decrease in productivity.

Additional cost of establishing a remote workforce. As mentioned above, you may need to put resources in place to help employees maintain the same level of functionality. However, this will cost your business as employees might require special equipment, communication devices, and software.

Your business might be forced to close down. If your business does not provide essential services and cannot afford a remote workforce, you will have to close down during lockdowns. This could result in unpaid time off, especially for businesses like restaurants, salons, and bars.

3. Establish open and transparent communication.

Employees will look towards their community leaders, government officials, and employers for guidance during these uncertain times. Therefore, it's important that you encourage open dialogue with your employees and be as transparent as possible.

Leave as little to interpretation as possible . Employees will expect clear and straightforward steps that they can follow. When setting up your continuity plan, consider the diverse perspectives of your employees and which communication platforms will best suit their needs. This will help you determine how detailed your plan should be.

Establish a communications plan that provides employees, senior management, customers, suppliers, and government regulators with regular updates . Make sure your updates stem from verifiable news sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

4. Reshape your business plans for continuity purposes.

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to reshape the way businesses operate, it's critical that you review existing business plans, including your current business continuity plan and business disaster recovery plan.

To help address the COVID-19 challenges, businesses should:

Monitor direct cost escalations . This should also include the COVID-19 impact on overall product margins, which may require businesses to renegotiate terms and conditions where necessary. Businesses may be vulnerable to financial stress and long-term implications if they are slow to react.

Consider alternative supply chain options. If your business needs to source products or materials but the supplier is based in areas significantly affected by COVID-19, consider looking for alternative options. Remember to maintain active communication with all suppliers.

Identify how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts budgets and business plans. Start by conducting assessments with multiple scenarios to understand the potential impact on your business's overall performance. After detailing how long the impact is expected to last, and how it affects suppliers and budget predictions, revise your business's plans.

Look into alternative funding. Many businesses will face the issue of short-term capital demands. Based on your findings from the business plans assessment, you might need to look at near-term capital raising, short-term liquidity, debt refinancing, or additional credit support from banks, partners, or investors.

5. Prioritize key business functions and processes.

Start by identifying the key products and services your business provides, as well as the customers they're delivered to. This will help determine which high-risk areas are vulnerable, outline dependencies, and estimate the potential financial losses your business may face. Then, prioritize which business functions require additional attention.

6. Make use of support policies and funding.

Across the U.S., local governments and organizations have implemented several financial, social insurance, and tax-related policies to help support small businesses during this time. It is important to note that government support may differ based on your location and industry.

Monitor nationwide government and business opportunities that could support your business during this period. For example, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is providing low-interest working capital loans to small businesses and non-profit organizations.

7. Review and revise your business strategy.

Once the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled, you should consider reshaping your entire business strategy. This should include an assessment of all plans, including marketing, communications, and BCP. Your current revision will be done quickly and somewhat under duress as the situation continues to change dramatically.

If your assessment reveals any deficiencies, you will need to identify:

  • Root causes.
  • Timeliness of action.
  • Lack of infrastructure.
  • Labor shortages.
  • External environment issues.

Once this is complete, consider putting new internal guidelines, plans, and policies in place based on the lessons learned. This will help you better respond to future crises and pandemics.

What is a Mission Statement?

Learn what makes a Mission Statement unique, and how to write one. Includes frequently asked questions about Mission Statements.

Mar 4, 2022

What is included in a COVID-19 business continuity plan?

  • Policies that address various types of natural disasters.
  • Processes that must be followed during this time.
  • Guidelines that detail the business processes, assets, human resources, business partners, and more.
  • An outline of the risks the business faces and how it will impact operations.
  • Safeguards and processes to help mitigate the risks.

How do I prepare my business for COVID-19?

  • Prioritize your employees' safety .
  • Identify the risks and impact of COVID-19 .
  • Establish open and transparent communication .
  • Reshape your business plans for continuity purposes .
  • Prioritize key business functions and processes .
  • Make use of support policies and funding .
  • Review and revise your business strategy .

Where can I find a COVID-19 business continuity plan template?

Download our COVID-19 business continuity plan template for free.

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COVID Safety Plan template

Maintaining a covid-safe workplace.

The RACGP has developed this COVID Safety Plan (known in some states and territories as a COVID Safe Plan) template to help practices comply with current requirements for businesses operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is best as a guide and should be adapted to suit your practices procedures and workflows.

  • practice access and patient flow
  • physical distancing
  • infection-control training
  • use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • environmental cleaning and management
  • record-keeping
  • practice team management and limiting interactions in closed spaces
  • responding to a positive case, or close contact, in the practice team.

  COVID Safety Plan template (DOCX 134 KB)

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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Action Plan

Get your free covid-19 action plan template.

Safety by Design is working hard to help you prevent a COVID-19 outbreak on your job site. That is why we have put together the following complimentary action plan to help you navigate these difficult times.

This interim guidance is based on what is currently known about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC will update their guidance as additional information becomes available.

Download Your FREE Action Plan

California Residents Download Your Action Plan Here

Simply switch out “COMPANY” with your company name, fill in the header, review the information thoroughly and adjust this as you see fit. This will be useful to share with your team and stakeholders.

COVID-19 Reopening Guide for Small Businesses

For “industry-specific reopening guidelines, as well as general reopening resources that should prove useful for all business owners,” click here to review the COVID-19 Reopening Guide for Small Businesses from Chamber of Commerce.

Please Contact Safety by Design Should You Require Further Assistance

We hope you are staying safe and healthy during these turbulent times.

Yours Truly, Lee Hart President

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COVID-19 Safety Plan Checklist

Follow these steps to manage the risks of COVID-19 and keep your workplace, staff and others safe.

A cafe worker wearing a mask

Under WHS law, all employers or businesses must manage the risk of COVID-19 to people in the workplace. This checklist can be used to create your own COVID-19 safety plan. However, use of this template isn't mandatory.

This COVID-19 Safety Plan outlines actions you can take to minimise the risk of disease spreading in your workplace and in the community. But every workplace is different. Consider how you can address the risks of COVID-19 in the context of your business.

More information for businesses is available at:

Safe Work Australia

Coronavirus and Australia’s workplace laws

Guidance in NSW

SafeWork NSW

How to use this checklist

Read the guidelines to make sure you’ve implemented the COVID-safe measures.

You can add more or alternative actions in the notes sections. Describe how you’ll apply this in your workplace.

Save the safety plan as a PDF to share it with workers and other people.

Ensure areas are well ventilated

Use outdoor areas where possible.

Open windows and doors to increase natural ventilation in indoor areas.

Optimise ventilation systems (for example, maximise the intake of outside air, avoid recirculation of air, and consult an expert).

Maintain ventilation systems to ensure they’re working well (for example, regular filter cleaning or filter changes).

Protect the wellbeing of workers and other people 

  • Encourage or request the use of face masks where it is difficult to maintain physical distance.

Consider what work can be done remotely from the premises (for instance, what work could be completed from home).

Use telephone or video platforms for meetings where possible.

Exclude workers and other people who are unwell.

Maintain good hygiene practices

Ensure hand sanitiser is available to workers and others in key locations.

Supply bathrooms with hand soap, paper towels or hand dryers. 

Avoid sharing items, equipment and workspaces. If sharing can’t be avoided, clean them between uses.

Regularly clean areas and surfaces that are frequently touched. 

Workers wear personal protective equipment when cleaning, and wash their hands before and after with soap and water.

Use disinfectant solutions at the correct strength. Use according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Ensure any rubbish is collected regularly to avoid rubbish overflow.

Maintain physical distancing 

  • Support 1.5m physical distance between people where possible. 

Avoid close groupings of people, such as between seated groups, workstations or queues.

  • Stagger bookings, start times and breaks to minimise contact.
  • Have strategies to reduce crowding or gathering outside premises.

Encourage contactless payment and delivery.

Mark out and use separate entry and exit points, if possible. 

Provide COVID-19 information and training to workers

Provide staff with information and training on COVID-19 and on how to minimise risk of COVID-19 transmission. For example, train staff about COVID-safe behaviours, or when to get a COVID-19 test and self isolate.

Encourage workers to get vaccinated.

Ensure workers understand their leave entitlements if they are sick or need to self isolate.

Encourage COVID-safe behaviour through communications

Display and communicate conditions of entry. For example, ask people to stay away if they're unwell. Communicate this on entryways, your website and social channels.

Communicate occupancy or density limits, physical distancing and hygiene measures. Do this with posters, floor markings and other signs in key areas.

Your COVID-19 policy and business obligations

  • Cooperate with NSW Health if they contact you about a positive case of COVID-19 at your workplace. Notify SafeWork NSW if a worker tests positive and is hospitalised or dies.
  • Have a plan to follow if someone with COVID-19 attended your workplace or venue.
  • You can require proof that workers and others are vaccinated, as part of your business COVID-19 policy.
  • You can require workers and other people to wear face masks, as part of your business COVID-19 policy.

I note that this web tool does not collect, store, disclose or distribute any of my personal information. This tool is to assist me with making decisions and receiving information only. The responses I provide are not collected or stored.

This web tool does not collect, store, disclose or distribute any of your personal information. This tool is to assist you with making decisions and receiving information only. The responses you provide are not collected or stored.

The PDF will contain the above guidelines, plus any notes you've added.

COVID-19 poster

Posters and signage

This toolkit contains signs, social media graphics and stickers to help your business promote COVID-safe behaviours in your workplace.

Related information

  • Guidance for businesses with a worker who tests positive for COVID-19
  • COVID-19 guidance on ventilation
  • Working from home guidance

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Prepare Your Company for the Next Covid Wave

  • Patricia Toro,
  • Jeff Levin-Scherz,
  • John M. Bremen

covid safe business plan example

Four actions to take now.

With more surges of Covid-19 highly likely, companies should have a plan in place for dealing with whatever the pandemic throws at them. It should include these measures: reduce restrictions as the situation allows, plan for another surge or outbreak now while cases are low, embrace remote and hybrid work, and effectively communicate pandemic plans.

Leaders of companies in the United States and many other parts of the world are breathing a sigh of relief as the Omicron BA.1 surge is in the past with higher community immunity, new effective treatments, and plentiful tests and vaccines. But with the Omicron BA.2 strain and its descendants becoming dominant and immunity from infections and vaccinations waning, the pandemic is not over and companies must be prepared for whatever the pandemic throws at them next. This article outlines four actions leaders can take now to increase the safety of their employees and decrease business disruption in the event of future community outbreaks.

  • Patricia Toro , MD, is a senior director in the Health Management Practice of WTW. She is trained in infectious diseases and works with payors, providers, and employers to improve the quality and outcomes of health care delivery.
  • Jeff Levin-Scherz , MD, is a population health leader of the North American Health and Benefits Practice of WTW. He is trained as a primary care physician and has played leadership roles in provider organizations and a health plan. He is an assistant professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Follow him on Twitter at @jlevinscherz .
  • John M. Bremen is managing director and chief innovation & acceleration officer at WTW. He advises boards and senior management teams on complex people, risk, and capital issues.

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Guide to developing your COVID-19 workplace safety plan

Learn how you can create a plan to help protect your workers and others from novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).

Use the Workplace Safety Plan Builder

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This guide will help you use current public health and workplace health and safety information to develop a plan and put controls into place to help make the workplace safer for everyone.

You can use the workplace safety plan builder to help create your COVID-19 workplace safety. All employers are encouraged to review and update their safety plan regularly.

As an employer it’s your responsibility under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect a worker.

Employers are not required to send their plan to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and the ministry will not provide comments on safety plans sent in. During an inspection of your workplace, an inspector or compliance officer could ask whether you have developed a safety plan and may ask to see it.

Discuss and share your safety plan with everyone at work, including:

  • supervisors
  • health and safety representatives or members of joint health and safety committees ( JHSCs )
  • contractors

This guide does not replace the Occupational Health and Safety Act or the Employment Standards Act and their regulations and should not be used as or considered legal advice. Health and safety inspectors and employment standards officers apply the law based on the facts in the workplace.

Develop your COVID-19 safety plan

Key sources of information.

It’s important that you talk to workers and your JHSC members or health and safety representatives, if any, for their input on the plan. Share the plan with all workplace parties when it is done. This will help ensure your workers and others understand how you plan to manage the risks of COVID‑19 .

Check the resources to prevent COVID‑19 in the workplace for sector-specific information and examples of controls that apply to your type of workplace. These documents may be helpful as you develop your plan. Visit the webpage regularly to check for the latest information.

Make sure you continue to follow any provincial requirements under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID‑19 ) Act and any local public health orders. Find out about the latest updates in public health measures, advice and restrictions .

Understand COVID‑19 risks

The first step to control risks in a workplace is to identify them. For COVID‑19 , the risks are related to how the virus spreads.

COVID‑19 primarily spreads from person-to-person through respiratory droplets created by a person who is infected. Respiratory droplets vary in size from large droplets that fall to the ground rapidly near the person, to smaller droplets, sometimes called aerosols. The droplets are created when a person:

The virus can also be spread indirectly through contaminated surfaces or objects.

The key risk factors for COVID-19 transmission include:

  • close proximity - working close to others
  • longer exposure - spending more time with potentially infected people
  • crowded places - having more people in a space
  • closed spaces - indoor spaces with less fresh air (working indoors is riskier than working outdoors)
  • forceful exhalation – activities that cause people to breathe more deeply, such as physically demanding work, speaking loudly and singing

Each additional risk factor in the workplace increases the risk of transmission. Not having any of these factors does not mean there is no risk of transmission.

The risk of severe health outcomes is not the same for all workers . The risk increases with age and is higher for people with certain medical conditions.

It is possible for COVID‑19 to be spread by people who do not have any symptoms, including people who have been vaccinated. Act as if everyone is infected when setting up controls.

Control COVID‑19 risks in the workplace

Control measures are the steps you take to reduce the risks to your workers. With an infectious disease like COVID‑19 your controls can help to break the chain of transmission of the virus and reduce the risk of a workplace outbreak.

Your controls should address the key risk factors for COVID‑19 transmission in your workplace.

The most effective way to stop the spread of COVID‑19 is to limit interactions between people. All workers who can work from home should continue to do so. This is an important way to both protect these workers and help protect those who do have to go into the workplace.

For workers who must be in the workplace, there are a variety of control measures to help reduce the risk of transmission. These measures help to protect workers in different ways. For example:

  • screening helps to keep people who may be infectious out of the workplace
  • good ventilation and wearing masks can help reduce the amount of virus in an indoor space
  • maintaining physical distance reduces the chance of being exposed to respiratory droplets of all sizes
  • personal protective equipment( PPE ) can help protect the wearer from exposure to the virus and may be required when other control measures cannot be consistently maintained

The best way to reduce the likelihood of transmission in your workplace is to have multiple controls in place. This is especially important in situations where one or more controls cannot be consistently maintained.

COVID‑19 vaccines may supplement, but should not replace, any workplace controls. No single action, including vaccination, is perfect at controlling risks. Workplace control measures reduce the chance of people being exposed to the virus. Vaccination reduces the chance that the person vaccinated will get sick if they are exposed to COVID‑19.

Use the hierarchy of controls

The hierarchy of controls (image and description below) can help you choose the right controls for your workplace. This applies to all workplace hazards, not just COVID‑19 .

The levels in the hierarchy of controls, in order from most effective to least effective, are:

  • elimination
  • substitution
  • engineering controls
  • administrative controls
  • personal protective equipment ( PPE )

When making your plan, always start by considering the most effective controls first. First, try to eliminate the hazard altogether. Where eliminating the hazard is not possible, use multiple engineering and administrative controls.

The higher the control appears in the diagram and the earlier it is in the list, the more effective it is. The first three types of controls are more effective because once in place they do not usually require additional action by a worker. The effective use of administrative controls and PPE requires workers and other people to implement them properly and consistently every time.

Even with the rapid and collaborative response to COVID‑19 , there are still many uncertainties about the disease. As the evidence evolves, what we know about the risks and best practices for controls may change, so it is important to stay current. The safety plan approach allows you to incorporate new information as it becomes available.

Hierarchy of controls represented as an inverted pyramid, with most effective at the top narrowing to least effective at the bottom.

Elimination

Remove the risk of exposure entirely from the workplace. For example, having everyone work from home all the time would eliminate COVID‑19 risk from a workplace.

Substitution

Replace a hazardous substance with something less hazardous (for example, replace one chemical with another). For an infectious disease such as COVID‑19 , substitution is not an option.

Engineering controls

Make physical changes to reduce or remove the hazard, for example, through ventilation or separating workers from the hazard.

Administrative controls

Make changes to the ways people work and interact, using policies, procedures, training and signage. For example, you could:

  • establish contactless curbside pickup
  • create policies to limit the number of people in a space at one time
  • schedule to stagger work shifts and breaks
  • establish new cleaning and disinfection protocols
  • provide education and training on proper hand washing technique
  • set up a screening process

Personal protective equipment ( PPE )

This is equipment and clothing worn by a worker to minimize exposure to hazards and prevent illnesses and infection. PPE is used to protect the wearer and can include such things as surgical/procedure masks and eye protection.

Correct use of PPE can help prevent some exposures, but it should not take the place of other control measures, for example, screening, hand hygiene, use of barriers and physical distancing where possible. PPE must be used alongside other control measures already in place.

Using masks as a control measure

A mask is a piece of equipment that covers the wearer’s nose, mouth and chin. It is fixed to the face with straps, ties or elastic, either behind the head or with ear loops.

For COVID‑19 protection, masks can be used as workplace control measures in two ways:

  • as source control: workers and visitors wear the mask to protect those around them
  • as personal protective equipment ( PPE ): workers wear the mask (along with eye protection) to protect themselves

Not all masks are suitable for both purposes, however, many masks that are suitable for use as PPE also work for source control. You need to consider how you will use the mask in your workplace and make sure to select a suitable type of mask. Cloth masks are not PPE .

How effective masks are as a control measure depends on:

  • the type of mask(s) used
  • masks being worn properly and consistently

It is recommended that all workers wear masks that provide source control:

  • indoors at all times
  • outdoors where physical distance cannot be maintained

To help you decide what is right for your workplace, see using masks in the workplace for more information.

Safety plan questions

There are six questions you should think through as you develop your COVID‑19 workplace safety plan. The information in this document will help you to think through the issues as you develop a plan for the unique situation in your workplace.

Question 1: How will you ensure all workers know how to keep themselves safe from exposure to COVID‑19 ?

Provide clear information and instruction to your workers. Make sure they know what they need to do to protect themselves and others. Ensure they know how to follow the work and hygiene practices in your plan, including all new safety measures.

Set up or use your current internal communication systems to provide frequent reminders and updates. Use a variety of ways to reach your workers, such as:

  • posting notices in common areas
  • virtual team meetings
  • intercom announcements

Keep up with public health and workplace safety guidance for COVID‑19 . Share new information as soon as possible.

Some actions to consider:

  • post information for workers and other people entering the workplace
  • share information in all languages spoken by your workers, if possible
  • use easy-to-understand information, such as graphics and resources from the Ontario government
  • provide information to your workers about how vaccination can help keep them safe
  • remind workers about available social and mental health supports , and encourage them to use these resources
  • share information to help your workers stay healthy while commuting and travelling as part of their work
  • train and re-train on procedures

Question 2: How will you screen for COVID‑19 ?

Screening helps keep infected workers and others from entering the workplace. This can reduce possible transmission in your workplace. Read more about workplace screening .

Make sure all workers know to stay home if they have symptoms that are new, getting worse or unexplained (for example, not caused by an existing condition). Provide information to workers on how to access health, job and financial supports that are available to them.

Know the symptoms and risk factors to look for and plan for how you will screen workers and others who enter your workplace. You must make sure that your screening process follows the instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Make sure any people working as screeners receive information and instruction on how to perform this work safely and what to do if a person must be excluded from the workplace.

Screening of workers

Employers must actively screen all workers, including those who are vaccinated, for  COVID-19 symptoms  and other risk factors before they enter the workplace at the start of their shift.

Active screening means that as an employer it is your responsibility to ensure that no worker enters the workplace unless it is confirmed they have completed the screening and the result of that screening has indicated that they are allowed to enter the workplace.

Consider what records you will keep so you can show how your active screening process works and that you have been following it.

Question-based screening

This type of screening involves using information about symptoms and exposures to determine if a person can enter a workplace.

A person has passed question-based screening if they have none of the symptoms or exposures asked about in the screening tool.

You can use the  COVID-19 worker and employee screening   tool or must make sure your screening tool includes all the same questions.

Question-based screening may be done in person or remotely, including by telephone, web tool, email or app.

Rapid antigen screening

This screening method involves collection of a sample from an individual that is analysed to see if it contains proteins from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Rapid antigen screening is used to help identify asymptomatic COVID-19 cases.

A person has passed rapid antigen screening if they get a negative result on the rapid antigen test. Individuals with a positive result obtained through a rapid antigen screening do not require a PCR test to confirm the result.

Rapid antigen screening can be a helpful step to add to a workplace screening process. If you are thinking of adding rapid antigen screening in your workplace, read more about considerations and get free rapid tests .

Self-monitoring

Encourage workers to monitor their own symptoms at all times, including while at work:

  • ensure workers know what to do if they start to experience symptoms at work
  • let workers know where to find the online COVID-19 self-assessment tool
  • ask workers to use the self-assessment tool at home if they have any symptoms and to follow the instructions

Make sure workers know who their workplace contact is and how to get in touch with them in case the self-assessment, public health or their health care provider tells the worker to self-isolate .

Screening of non-workers

Consider how you will screen clients, customers and patrons. Where possible, actively screen using the COVID-19 customer screening tool. Note that in some workplaces, there may be requirements for active screening of non-workers. Proof of vaccination may be required as part of the screening process for non-worker in some settings .

You may be able to screen non-workers:

  • by phone or online before they arrive
  • using a process similar to the one that you use to screen your workers

At a minimum, you must have passive screening of non-workers entering your workplace. This means:

  • you must post signs with clear instructions at all entrances that tell people how to screen themselves
  • the signs should include the screening questions and instruct people with symptoms or high-risk exposures not to enter the premises
  • people are assumed to have screened themselves and followed the instructions
  • you do not need to ask anyone to report the result of their screening
  • a person should be told not to enter if they volunteer the information that they did not pass the screening assessment

Screening results – next steps

If a person, worker or non-worker, passes all steps used in the screening they:

  • are permitted to enter the workplace at that time
  • must continue to follow all public health and workplace control measures, including masking, maintaining physical distance and hand hygiene
  • should continue to self-monitor and workers should follow their workplace’s reporting procedure if they develop symptoms during their shift

If a person, worker or non-worker, does not pass on any part of the screening they:

  • are NOT permitted to enter the workplace at that time
  • must follow guidance on self-isolation and return to work .

Question 3: How will you control the risk of transmission in your workplace?

COVID‑19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms even after being vaccinated. This is why it is very important to have effective control measures in the workplace.

Examples of controls to consider are provided below. You can find many other ideas in the sector-specific  resources to prevent COVID‑19 in the workplace .

To operate your business more safely and to keep it operating, you may need to make changes to the workspace and to the ways your work is done.

Maximize physical distancing and separation

The most effective way to reduce the risk of COVID‑19 transmission is to avoid in-person interactions. Where possible, workers should continue to work from home and meet virtually until public health authorities advise otherwise.

Where remote work is not possible, maintaining physical distance is an important measure to reduce the chance of transmission. To enable workers to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from other people in the workplace, use a variety of engineering and administrative controls, such as:

  • barriers, such as plexiglass, to maintain separation as a primary means of control
  • scheduling and other administrative changes to reduce the number of people who must share the same space including during shifts, lunch and other breaks
  • providing adequate space by using and repurposing all available areas inside your facility and in the surrounding outdoor space

Source control masking

Using masks as source control involves having workers, visitors and clients in the workplace wear a mask to help protect those around them. All employers should use source control masking, combined with other control measures. Masks are especially important indoors and help to reduce the risk in situations where:

  • workers spend time together or one after another in an enclosed or confined area
  • there is poor ventilation
  • a lot of people are in the same space
  • physical distancing cannot be consistently maintained

Source control masks should not be used instead of physical distancing, and physical distancing should not be used instead of source control masks – both control measures lower risk and should be used together.

Consider how effective using masks as source control may be in your workplace. This will depend on the type of mask(s) used and whether they are worn properly and consistently.

Encourage clients, customers and visitors to your workplace to wear masks to help protect your workers and to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID‑19 in your community.

In some workplaces in Ontario, wearing a mask or face covering is required by public health or other authorities. You should be aware of the most current:

  • requirements of the local public health unit
  • relevant bylaws in the municipality in which you do business
  • requirements under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID‑19 ) Act that are applicable to your business
  • directives issued by the Chief Medical Officer of Health that are applicable to your industry or business

Even with other controls in place including physical distancing and source control masking, there may be situations where PPE will be required. A surgical or procedure mask worn as part of required PPE also works as source control. Masks, including respirators, with exhalation valves should not be used for source control.

Ventilation and air flow

The risk of COVID‑19 transmission is higher in more enclosed and crowded spaces. Good ventilation can decrease the concentration of aerosols that may be suspended in the air indoors and help reduce the chance of COVID‑19 spread.

Ventilation includes:

  • dilution – opening windows and doors, increasing air exchange rates in air handling ( HVAC ) systems
  • filtration – using filters to remove viral particles from the air

At minimum, you should ensure that HVAC systems are maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Consider COVID‑19 standards for ventilation and HVAC systems, such as those from  the CSA Group  and the ASHRAE .

Additional steps you can take:

  • use portable air cleaners
  • keep windows and doors open as much as possible, including in colder weather
  • adjust HVAC systems to increase the amount of fresh air and reduce recirculation
  • continue ventilation and air exchange after regular business hours
  • run exhaust fans at full capacity (for example in bathrooms and kitchens)
  • if fans are needed for temperature control, make sure you are using them as safely as possible
  • use available outdoor space whenever possible (for example, for meetings, breaks, client interactions such as curbside pick-up)
  • consider going beyond minimum standards if possible
  • they cannot identify the presence or absence of COVID‑19 in the air

Ventilation improvements should not be used instead of other control measures, such as source control masking and other controls should not be used instead of ventilation – all control measures lower risk and should be used together. The use of other control measures is particularly important in areas where it is difficult to improve ventilation.

Reduce transmission from surfaces and objects

The virus that causes COVID‑19 may be transferred to surfaces or objects. Workers can be infected if they touch their face with contaminated hands.

Consider the policies and procedures you can put in place to make sure you are cleaning and disinfecting and keeping the workplace as free of the virus as possible. The public health recommendation is to clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces at least twice a day.

To reduce transmission:

  • identify commonly touched surfaces and commonly used areas in your workplace and put into place a schedule to clean and disinfect them
  • consider whether there are high-touch surfaces that may need to be cleaned and disinfected more often
  • assign tools, equipment and workstations to a single user if possible, or limit the number of users
  • regularly clean and disinfect any shared equipment and tools, including between users

Support good hand and respiratory hygiene

The same everyday steps recommended by public health officials to stop the spread of COVID‑19 are important in the workplace too. One of the most important things we can all do is to wash our hands often with soap and water.

Think about what you can do to make it easier for your workers to take these steps regularly at work. You can:

  • post reminders to wash hands, use proper cough and sneeze etiquette and avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth
  • provide ways to properly clean hands by providing access to soap and water and, if that is not possible, alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • ensure that workers can clean their hands frequently and whenever needed
  • have all workers and visitors properly clean their hands before entering the workplace and after contact with objects and surfaces others may have touched

Personal protective equipment

To determine when personal protective equipment ( PPE ) is needed in your workplace, you will need to assess all the relevant factors in the workplace. This includes how effective the other control measures you have in place are. Even with other controls in place there are situations where PPE will be needed.

Correct use of PPE can help prevent some exposures, but it should not take the place of other control measures – PPE must be used alongside other control measures already in place.

It’s important that any PPE workers use is appropriate for the purpose. The effectiveness of PPE depends on every person wearing it correctly and consistently. Make sure your workers are trained on the care, use and limitations of any PPE that they use.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health has provided direction to health care organizations about the minimum requirements for COVID‑19 PPE .

Where PPE for COVID‑19 is needed in non-health care settings:

  • it will likely consist of a surgical or procedure mask (or equal or greater protection) in addition to eye protection (such as face shield or goggles)
  • gloves will not usually be needed as they do not provide any more protection than hand washing or using hand sanitizer

Workers that wear PPE for protection against workplace hazards besides COVID‑19 must continue to use that PPE as required. This includes gloves for new cleaning and disinfecting products that workers use because of COVID‑19 .

Question 4: What will you do if there is a potential case of, or suspected exposure to, COVID‑19 at your workplace?

There are steps that you will need to take if one of your workers, visitors or clients has symptoms that may be related to COVID‑19 or is diagnosed with COVID‑19 :

Step 1: Exclude people with symptoms or who have been exposed from the workplace

Workers should be kept out of the workplace if any of the following are true:

  • they have they have tested positive for COVID‑19
  • they have been exposed to someone with  or who has received a positive test result (details may vary based on vaccination status and type of exposure – see  for more information)

Special requirements apply to people who live, work, attend or volunteer in high-risk settings, such as health care settings, congregate living settings, and First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities.

Clients and customers who have COVID‑19 symptoms or some types of exposures should be screened out of the workplace based on the directions in the screening guidance.

If a worker calls in sick, informs you of symptoms of COVID‑19 or informs you they had close contact with someone with symptoms, have them take the self-assessment . Ask the worker to follow any recommendations given by the tool, including being tested and self-isolating.

If anyone shows symptoms in the workplace, they should return home and self-isolate immediately. If they cannot leave immediately, they should be isolated until they are able to leave. Have a plan in place to deal with this and train supervisors on how to handle the situation.

Self-isolation and return-to-work

A person who has COVID‑19 must self-isolate so they can’t infect others, whether fully vaccinated or not. The purpose of self-isolation after exposure is to prevent a person from infecting others before they know they are infected.

As an employer, it is important for you to understand   COVID‑19 self-isolation and return to work  for your workplace. Details on requirements can be found in the provincial guidance on the management of cases and contacts of COVID‑19 .  Follow any and all public health measures and direction.

Consider how you can support workers so they are able to self-isolate and how you will manage if workers are unavailable. You could:

  • assign work-at-home tasks to workers who must
  • use flexible schedules that allow self-isolating workers to work additional hours when they return to the workplace
  • identify workers within your organization who can work additional hours or shifts as needed and make sure they are trained to do the work they might be asked to do
  • develop back-up schedules that can be quickly implemented if needed
  • make sure workers know how to access  job and financial supports  that are available to them and provide them any documentation they need 

Workers who are considered employees under the  Employment Standards Act  have the right to take job-protected  infectious disease emergency leave  if they must self-isolate because of COVID‑19.

You cannot penalize an employee in any way for taking or planning on taking an infectious disease emergency leave.

Learn about the  Ontario COVID‑19 worker income protection benefit .

Workers who must take time off from work because of COVID‑19 may be entitled to employment insurance benefits or to other federal government financial supports. For information,  visit the federal government’s website  or contact Service Canada’s Employment Insurance Automated Telephone Information Service at 1-800-206-7218 .

Workers can return to the workplace after their self-isolation period if they have no fever and their symptoms have been improving for the appropriate time period, based on the appropriate time period, based on the guidance provided by the Ministry of Health .

Workers do not need a negative COVID‑19 test to return to the workplace after self-isolating for the full required period.

Step 2: Inform any workers who may have been exposed

Let workers know if they may have been exposed in the workplace.

If available, provide information to workers about the potential exposure and where it took place. Don’t give out information that will identify the infectious person.

Having a system in place to help keep track of which people had  can help you identify who may have been exposed if someone in your workplace develops symptoms or tests positive for COVID‑19.

You could include information such as:

  • dates and times of interactions
  • approximate length and frequency of interactions
  • contact telephone numbers
  • addresses (for workers) or the name of the visitor’s business

Some businesses may be required to collect and maintain contact information. Information on minimum requirements can be found in the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID‑19) Act .

In places where active screening of patrons is not required, businesses should  and ask all clients and customers to  for COVID‑19 symptoms or exposures prior to entry to the workplace.

Step 3: Report to Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and the WSIB

If you are advised that one of your workers has COVID‑19 due to exposure at the workplace, or that a claim has been filed with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), you must give notice in writing within four days to:

  • the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development
  • the workplace’s joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative
  • the worker’s trade union (if applicable)

Additionally, you must  report any occupationally acquired illnesses to the WSIB  within three days of receiving notification of the illness.

You do not need to determine where a case was acquired and you do not need proof of a positive COVID‑19 test. If it’s reported to you as an occupational illness, you must report the case.

Question 5: How will you manage any new risks caused by changes to the way you operate your business?

Changes to work practices to prevent COVID‑19 may affect the way you manage other risks in the workplace. For example, you may have controlled the risk of injury from lifting heavy items by having two people involved. This may not be possible while workers maintain physical distance.

It’s also possible that new procedures will bring new risks or challenges. For example, if you start using a new product for disinfection, you need to know what chemicals are in the product and how to use it safely. Workers may need new training.

Other plans and protocols you have in place may also need to be adapted for COVID‑19 . For example, how will you maintain physical distance during an emergency evacuation? What will you do if workers are told to self-isolate because of exposure to COVID‑19?

Review and update your workplace violence prevention policy to address the potential for increased risks of harassment, threats and violence to workers. Have a clear process for dealing with aggressive or violent behaviours, particularly when workers are conducting screening, requiring proof of vaccination or are asked to inform customers about COVID‑19 protocols. Make sure these workers get the information and instruction they need to do their work as safely as possible.

Remote work may pose its own risks. This may include technological barriers, mental health concerns and ergonomic challenges.

New risks may be introduced by:

  • workers having been away from their work
  • changes to processes and procedures
  • use of temporary labour and inexperienced staff
  • restarting activities and machinery that have been shut down
  • stress and change – consider how this affects your workers’ mental health

If your plan introduces shift work or splits teams that would normally work together, describe what steps you’ll take to:

  • manage the impacts of shift work, including fatigue, transport, childcare and the potential dilution of skills available within a split team or rostered workgroup
  • ensure each team has access to the right skills and support to be able to work safely

Question 6: How will you make sure your plan is working?

Operating a business during the pandemic involves recovery stages will involve different ways of working. Checking to see how your plan is working will help you find the best solutions for your unique situation and adapt to any changes.

You may want to assign a manager or management team to take charge of COVID-related issues, including training for supervisors and regular dialogue with supervisors, to make sure there is compliance with all protocols. Use existing incident reporting systems. Schedule regular times to review your plan and its effectiveness.

  • Add your COVID‑19 measures and procedures to the JHSC checklist for required monthly inspections.
  • In health care workplaces the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representatives  must be  consulted.
  • What is the best way to engage your workers and workplace parties? Ask them how they would like to participate in decision making and provide feedback. Remember it may not be possible for them to complete forms or attend meetings outside of work time.
  • What can you measure and monitor so that you can evaluate how well the new protocols are being followed?
  • How will you communicate changes to processes, ensure all workers know about the changes and are trained to implement them?
  • How often will you update and share new versions of your plan?

As the COVID‑19 situation evolves what is right for your situation may change. Make sure to review and update your plan regularly.

Your COVID-19 safety plan – what you need to think about

23 April 2020

Under alert Level 3 all businesses that are permitted to resume operations need to have a COVID-19 safety plan that sets out how they’ll operate safely.

To help meet the requirements for Level 3 work arrangements, WorkSafe New Zealand has developed a template to help workplaces consider the risks introduced by COVID-19 and how they can mitigate them. The template is available on the WorkSafe website .

Head of WorkSafe’s General Inspectorate Jo Pugh said it was critical that businesses involve their workers in the development of the plan and then discuss and share the plan with everyone at work – including workers, contractors, and suppliers – before the work starts.

“The purpose of the plan is to ensure the health and safety of workers and others is not put at risk from changes that are made to work arrangements because of this pandemic. We know that for some workplaces, resumption of business in a way that minimises risk to workers is going to be hard to do and this template will support them through the process of considering risk, and controlling it.”

“It is also important that businesses continue to identify and control non-COVID-19 related risks that exist in their operations and consider whether the pandemic risks require any change to management of those pre-existing risks.

Jo Pugh outlined the key steps necessary to minimise the risk of passing on the COVID-19 virus at work:

  • supporting people with flu-like symptoms to self-isolate
  • ensuring separation distances
  • disinfecting surfaces
  • maintaining good hygiene, particularly hand hygiene and good cough/sneeze etiquette
  • keeping records to facilitate contact tracing.

“The template is not compulsory to use but businesses need to have a plan to protect their workforce and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

For businesses operating as an essential service under alert level 4, a COVID-19 safety plan is not required. However, the controls they have in place need to continue once we transition to alert Level 3.

“Our first approach with businesses will be to make sure they’re aware of the need for a plan and point them to the resources available on our and industry websites to assist them. We are making proactive calls to businesses to do just that. In the event of sustained non-compliance, we will consider our enforcement options”.

Worksafe also recommends seeking advice from industry organisations, who may have industry specific guidance and assistance available.

For more information

WorkSafe media phone 021 823 007

Last updated 24 April 2020 at 12:48

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HHS COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan and Implementation Guidance

The purpose of this document is to provide implementation guidance for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Workplace Safety Plan.  This implementation guidance applies HHS-wide to all Operating and Staff Divisions (Divisions) and puts the health and safety of all Federal employees, on-site contractor employees, visitors, and their families at the center.  This plan takes a safe, iterative, science-driven approach and replaces previously published guidance from March 2022.  This document follows Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (Task Force) guidance (updated September 15, 2022), Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum M-21-25 (issued June 10, 2021), as well as the earlier OMB Memorandum M-21-15 (issued January 24, 2021), Executive Orders 14042 and 14043 , and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance on protecting workers , as well as additional recommendations and guidance from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force .

2. Background

On January 20, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing (E.O. 13991).

On January 24, 2021, OMB issued guidance to agencies, Memorandum M-21-15, COVID-19 Safe Federal Workplace: Agency Model Safety Principles , following the release of E.O. 13991.  In accordance with E.O. 13991 and Memorandum 21-15, HHS issued its COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan and Implementation Guidance. 

On January 29, 2021, OSHA issued Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace and subsequently updated this guidance on June 10, 2021, and August 13, 2021.

On June 10, 2021, OMB issued updated guidance, Memorandum M-21-25, Integrating Planning for a Safe Increased Return of Federal Employees and Contractors to Physical Workplaces with Post-Reentry Personnel Policies and Work Environment .  

On July 29, 2021, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (“Task Force”) issued updates to COVID-19 Workplace Safety: Agency Model Safety Principles .

On September 9, 2021, President Biden issued Executive Orders on Requiring Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination for Federal Employees and on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors (E.O. 14043 and E.O. 14042 respectively). In implementing Executive Order 14042, HHS will comply with all relevant court orders and OMB and Task Force guidance.

On September 13, 2021, the Task Force issued updated COVID-19 Workplace Safety: Agency Model Safety Principles .

On September 15, 2022, the Task Force again issued updated Model Agency COVID-19 Safety Principles .  The Task Force also regularly provides additional guidance on agency COVID-19 workplace safety protocols, including through various new and updated FAQs.

Pursuant to E.O. 13991 and OMB Memoranda M-21-15, and subsequent Task Force guidance, HHS issues this updated HHS COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan and Implementation Guidance, which rescinds and supersedes the previously issued version of March 1, 2022.

Note on Implementation of E.O. 14042

One or more court orders currently prohibit the enforcement of requirements of E.O. 14042 on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors against certain parties and within certain locations. At this time, consistent with guidance from OMB and the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, DOC will take no action to enforce compliance with any contract clause implementing E.O. 14042 regardless of party or location. See the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force website for more information, including the latest guidance regarding the implementation and enforcement of E.O. 14042: For Federal Contractors | Safer Federal Workforce ..

Note on Implementation of E.O. 14043

To ensure compliance with an applicable preliminary nationwide injunction, which may be supplemented, modified, or vacated, depending on the course of ongoing litigation, the Federal Government will take no action to implement or enforce the COVID-19 vaccination requirement pursuant to Executive Order 14043 on Requiring Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination for Federal Employees. Any aspects of this Workplace Safety Plan related to the vaccination requirement pursuant to Executive Order 14043 are not in effect and will not be implemented or enforced while the injunction is in place.

3.  Updated Actions

I. HHS actions to date include:

  • Following Task Force recommendations. The Task Force comprises the White House COVID-19 Response Team, OMB, the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Protective Service (FPS), and the United States Secret Service (USSS).
  • Review of OMB Memoranda M-21-15 and M-21-25.
  • Designation of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration (ASA) as the lead for the HHS Return to Workplace Initiative, and coordination of COVID-19 workplace safety principles, protocols, and policies, for all HHS employees, on-site contractor employees, and visitors at HHS facilities and at HHS-occupied space. 
  • Establishment of a Return to Workplace (RTWP) Task Force (equivalent to a COVID Coordination Team) composed of HHS Divisions’ Chief Operating Officers and Executive Officers, the Office of Human Resources (OHR), National Labor & Employee Relations Office (LR), the Program Support Center (PSC), the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), Executive Leadership from the Immediate Office of the Secretary (IOS) or designated representatives, the Office of the General Counsel (OGC), a CDC Public Health expert, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources (ASFR), and other appropriate representatives.   

II. Pursuant to Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, OMB, OPM, and GSA guidance, HHS will take the following actions:

  • Continue to update this plan/implementation guidance when necessary.
  • Communicate this plan/implementation guidance to HHS Divisions to inform HHS employees, on-site contractor employees, and visitors at HHS facilities and at HHS-occupied space of current and upcoming policy changes.

4.  Workplace Health and Safety Principles

Workplace health and safety at HHS involves all employees at the individual level and multiple stakeholders, including leadership from all HHS Divisions’ Facility Security Committees and Designated Officials (in the case of multiple federal Agency involvement), building facility managers, HHS policy authorities, medical officers, public health experts, and ASA staff.  The principles presented here are in alignment with the latest guidance from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, CDC, and OSHA, and implement public health best practices for HHS workplaces based on our evolving understanding of COVID-19 mitigation measures.  Principles will be reassessed and updated over time, as conditions warrant.  HHS will continue proactive and iterative engagement with Federal employee unions on policies and their implementation.  The minimum standards outlined below apply unless an existing collective bargaining agreement (CBA) provides a more protective standard, in which case the CBA applies, or unless State, local, territorial, or Tribal requirements provide a more protective standard, in which case those local requirements apply.

WORKPLACE HEALTH AND SAFETY PRINCIPLES

Covid-19 community levels.

  • CDC has set recommendations related to COVID-19 Community Levels , which measure the impact of COVID-19 illness on health and healthcare systems and inform the appropriate prevention strategies to utilize at a given time. CDC provides county-level data showing the COVID-19 Community Level for each county in the United States, as determined by CDC. Divisions should utilize that data in determining the COVID-19 Community Level for a given facility by looking to the COVID-19 Community Level for the county in which the facility is located. Divisions should review the COVID-19 Community Level for each of their facilities on a weekly basis, to determine any changes that should be made to the facility’s COVID-19 workplace safety protocols for the upcoming week; for example, a Division could review the COVID-19 Community Level each Friday and implement any changes to COVID-19 workplace safety protocols due to changes in the COVID-19 Community Level starting the following Monday.

Vaccination Information

  • Consistent with CDC guidance, for most HHS workplaces, COVID-19 workplace safety protocols currently do not vary based on vaccination status or otherwise depend on vaccination information. Where this is the case, Divisions should pause any efforts to require, request, or collect vaccination status information from any individual—including employees, contractor employees, visitors to HHS facilities, or in-person attendees at HHS-hosted meetings, events, and conferences—for the purposes of implementing COVID-19 workplace safety protocols.
  • When Divisions pause requiring, requesting, and collecting vaccination status information, HHS must continue to preserve their vaccination information collection systems and the information collected to date from employees in accordance with the Federal Records Act and other records requirements. Furthermore, it is important to preserve this information as COVID-19 workplace safety protocols may change in the future, or collection of this information from Federal employees may otherwise need to resume.
  • Divisions with employee COVID-19 vaccination requirements pursuant to authorities other than E.O. 14043 may continue to require documentation of proof of vaccination from employees and potential employees subject to those requirements, as can Divisions with other setting-specific dependencies on collecting vaccination information from employees in those settings. Such Divisions should consult with the RTWP Task Force, Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, HHS General Counsel, and HHS’s Senior Agency Official for Privacy on such requirements, including related to information collection.

Mask-Wearing

  • When the COVID-19 Community Level is HIGH in a county where a HHS facility is located, pursuant to E.O. 13991 and consistent with CDC guidance, Divisions must require individuals—including HHS employees, onsite contractor employees, and visitors—who are two years or older, to wear a high-quality mask or respirator indoors in the facility, regardless of their vaccination status.  This includes Federal employees when they are interacting with members of the public as part of their official HHS responsibilities. 
  • When the COVID-19 Community Level is LOW or MEDIUM in a county where a HHS facility is located, in most settings, to be consistent with Task Force guidance, Divisions would need to communicate to individuals, such as through signage, that mask-wearing is optional, and should not otherwise require individuals to wear a mask, except where required by Federal, State, Tribal, territorial, or local laws, rules, regulations, or existing collective bargaining agreements. “High-quality” masks or respirators include respirators that meet U.S. or international standards (e.g., N95, KN95, KF94), masks that meet a standard (e.g., ASTM), or “procedure” or “surgical”-style masks.  Divisions should otherwise avoid limiting the types of masks that can be worn by individuals in Federal facilities.
  • When individuals are required to wear a high-quality mask or respirator (such as an N95): Masks and respirators should be well-fitting and worn consistently and correctly (over mouth and nose).  Masks or respirators should be worn in any common areas or shared workspaces (including open floorplan office space, cubicle embankments, and conference rooms).
  • Individuals do not need to wear masks when outdoors.  Additionally, individuals do not need to wear masks when they are alone in an office with floor to ceiling walls and a closed door, or for a limited time when an individual is eating or drinking and maintaining distance from others.
  • Mitigation measures such as mask-wearing and physical distancing in Federal buildings or on Federal land should follow Federal, State, local, Tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations.  The location of the facility determines operative guidance and not locations employees may commute from.  Where a locality imposes more protective COVID-19-related safety requirements, those requirements should be followed by Federal employees and onsite contractor employees, in Federal buildings, in Federally controlled indoor worksites, and on Federal lands within that locality.
  • Employees may procure and wear their own, self-provided respirator provided that they have reviewed Appendix D of the OSHA respiratory protection standard, are enrolled in a Division voluntary use program or a Division respiratory protection program.
  • Whenever HHS Divisions require that employees wear high-quality masks or respirators (including when all individuals in a HHS facility are required to wear high-quality masks because the COVID-19 Community Level in the county where the HHS Facility is located is HIGH), Divisions must make high-quality masks or respirators available to agency employees. Divisions may also make high-quality masks or respirators available to onsite contractor employees and visitors, such as at building entrances.
  • Notice of mask-wearing requirements and other safety measures, via written signage, will be posted conspicuously at each public entrance to HHS workplaces. 
  • A federal employee who is unable to wear a mask properly, in accordance with CDC guidance, or cannot tolerate a mask due to a medical condition should initiate a request for an accommodation by notifying their supervisor or contacting their Division’s Reasonable Accommodation office.
  • An on-site contractor employee who is unable to wear a mask properly, in accordance with CDC guidance, or cannot tolerate a mask due to a medical condition should inform their contract supervisor, who will, in turn, discuss the matter with the Contracting Officer Representative (COR) and Contracting Officer (CO). 
  • In accordance with applicable laws, regulations, policies, Executive Orders, and existing Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Commission guidance, accommodations (adaptations and alternatives) will be considered for qualified individuals with required documentation on a case-by-case basis.  Divisions should consult with their servicing Equal Employment Opportunity Office for further guidance.
  • Individuals may be asked to lower their masks briefly for identification purposes in compliance with safety and security requirements.    
  • Masks do not provide the same level of protection as respirators and should not be used in lieu of that personal protective equipment (PPE) where required or recommended for duty.
  • Divisions must require that individuals wear high-quality masks when in HHS-operated aircraft, boats or other maritime transportation conveyances, and buses with multiple occupants.  In these conveyances, occupants can remove their masks or respirators for safety reasons or for brief periods of time while eating, drinking or taking medication.  Mask-wearing is not required for outdoor areas of conveyances, if any.  Mask-wearing in these HHS-operated conveyances is not required if there is a single occupant or if the occupants are all co-habitants.  In HHS-operated vans, cars, trucks or other motor pool passenger vehicles, Divisions must recommend that individuals wear high-quality masks when there are multiple occupants.

Screening Testing

  • High-risk setting: These include certain Federal facilities—or certain specific settings within Federal facilities— where (1) COVID-19 transmission risk is high, and (2) the population present onsite is at high risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 or there is limited access to healthcare. Examples of such settings provided by CDC include, “High-risk congregate settings, such as assisted living facilities, correctional facilities, and homeless shelters, that have demonstrated high potential for rapid and widespread virus transmission to people at high risk for severe illness” and “Settings that involve close quarters and that are isolated from healthcare resources (e.g., fishing vessels, wildland firefighter camps, or offshore oil platforms).
  • Screening Testing: This is COVID-19 testing intended to identify people with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic or do not have any known, suspected, or reported exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19
  • Serial Screening Testing: This is screening testing that is repeated at different points in time within a group, such as periodic testing for everyone in a particular setting or facility.
  • Point-in-time Testing: This is screening testing that happens on a situational basis, such as before an event or visit.
  • Onsite contractor employees do not need to be included in HHS serial screening testing programs; however, Divisions may determine that it is necessary that onsite contractor employees, regardless of their vaccination status, must participate in serial screening testing, based upon operational or administrative considerations associated with particular settings, roles or functions.
  • An employee or onsite contractor employee enrolled in a serial screening testing program for an HHS identified high-risk setting does not need to be able to provide the results of a negative test each time they enter or are present in that setting.  This is in effect regardless of COVID-19 Community Levels.
  • Employees who are working remotely or who are on maximum telework do not need to undergo regular testing. 
  • Testing may be conducted at an HHS facility or offsite as determined by the Division. 
  • The test can be both self-administered and self-read by the employee if the Division has the employee certify as to when they took the test and that they received a negative result.
  • If a Division has established such point-in-time screening testing requirements for high-risk settings, then when COVID-19 Community Levels are MEDIUM or HIGH in the county where the Federal facilities with those high-risk settings are located, agencies must require visitors (except those seeking to obtain a public service or benefit), onsite contractor employees (except those individuals otherwise enrolled in an agency serial screening testing program, if any) accessing those settings, as well as in-person attendees at meetings, events, and conferences the agency is hosting in those settings (except those individuals otherwise enrolled in an agency serial screening testing program, if any), regardless of vaccination status, to be able to provide proof that they received a negative test result within 24 hours of accessing that Federal facility or high-risk setting from a viral test authorized by the FDA to detect current COVID-19 infection, pursuant to E.O. 13991 and consistent with CDC guidance.
  • For additional information, please review the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force FAQs related to testing.
  • Under OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements, if an employee tests positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection, the case must be recorded on the OSHA Illness and Injury Log if each of the following conditions are met: (1) the case is a confirmed case of COVID-19; (2) the case is work-related (as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5); and (3) the case involves one or more relevant recording criteria (set forth in 29 CFR 1904.7) (e.g., medical treatment beyond first aid, days away from work). HHS follows state and county reporting requirements and complies with state and county contact tracing efforts.

Diagnostic Testing

  • Diagnostic testing  is intended to identify current infection in individuals and should be performed on anyone that has signs and symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and/or following recent known or suspected exposure to SARS-CoV-2. 
  • HHS employees who are known to have been exposed to COVID-19 as part of their work and are onsite at an HHS workplace or interacting with members of the public in person as part of their official HHS responsibilities must receive diagnostic testing at no cost to the employee.

Workplace COVID-19 Cases

  • HHS Divisions will provide recommended CDC guidance to employees or contractors who may test positive while physically in the workplace regarding isolation and testing procedures.
  • Any information collected will be kept confidential in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Privacy Act, and the Rehabilitation Act and other EEO laws, and accessible only by those with a need to know in order to protect the health and safety of personnel.

Official Travel

  • There are no Government-wide limits on official travel (i.e., travel conducted under an official travel authorization) for Federal employees, regardless of their vaccination status. Employees should follow their Division’s travel policy.
  • Inform those employees that CDC recommends that individuals make sure they are up to date with COVID-19 vaccines before travel;
  • Recommend that those employees consider being tested for current infection with a viral test as close to the time of departure as possible (no more than three days) before travel and recommend that those employees consider being tested with a viral test after travel if their travel involved situations with greater risk of exposure such as being in crowded places while not wearing a high-quality mask;
  • Instruct those employees to adhere strictly to CDC guidance for  domestic  and  international  travel before, during, and after official travel;
  • Instruct those employees to check their destination’s COVID-19 Community Level before traveling and to wear a high-quality mask or respirator (such as an N95) while on-duty and around others indoors at their destination, if the COVID-19 Community Level in the county where their destination is located is HIGH.
  • Instruct employees to make sure they understand and follow all travel restrictions put in place by State, Tribal, local, and territorial governments.
  • Advise the traveling individual to prepare to be flexible, as restrictions, policies, and circumstances may change during their travel.
  • If an individual develops COVID-19 symptoms after official travel has been approved, then pursuant to E.O. 13991 and consistent with CDC guidance, the agency must instruct the individual to not undertake further official travel, including under that previously approved travel authorization, and to instead follow agency protocols consistent with the Task Force guidance on travel for individuals with COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Wear a high-quality mask or respirator (such as an N95) the entire time they are on-duty and around others indoors for the full duration of their travel that falls within the 10 full days after their last known exposure;
  • Not travel on public transportation such as airplanes, buses, and trains if they will not be able to wear a high-quality mask or respirator (such as an N95) when around others indoors for the full duration of their travel within the 10 full days after their last known exposure; and
  • Follow other aspects of post-exposure protocols, including the requirement for individuals with a known exposure to be tested for COVID-19 after 5 full days following their last known exposure (ideally, on or after day 6)—note that this testing may need to occur while the individual is traveling.  Divisions do not need to require that employees wait for the results of this post-exposure diagnostic test to undertake official travel, including return travel.
  • If the individual develops COVID-19 symptoms after official travel has been approved, then pursuant to E.O. 13991 and consistent with CDC guidance, the Division must instruct the individual to not undertake further official travel, including under that previously approved travel authorization, and to instead follow protocols consistent with the Task Force guidance on travel for individuals with COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Pursuant to E.O. 13991 and consistent with CDC guidance, Divisions must not approve official travel (i.e., travel conducted under an official travel authorization) for individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms and are waiting for an initial diagnostic viral test result, and Divisions must not approve official travel for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 for at least five full days after their first day of symptoms, or after the date of the initial positive diagnostic viral test for asymptomatic individuals.
  • Wear a high-quality mask the entire time they are on-duty and around others indoors for the full duration of their travel that falls within the period they are otherwise required to wear a high-quality mask or respirator after ending isolation, consistent with Task Force guidance;
  • Not travel on public transportation such as airplanes, buses, and trains if they will not be able to wear a high-quality mask or respirator when around others indoors for the full duration of their travel that falls within the period they are otherwise required to wear a high-quality mask or respirator after ending isolation, consistent with Task Force guidance; and
  • Follow other aspects of post-isolation protocols .
  • Senior Travel Officials shall implement management and supervisory controls sufficient to ensure Temporary Duty travel (TDY) is performed consistent with Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance and Agency Model Safety Principles as well as CDC COVID-19 travel-related guidance .
  • Approval for official travel is left to the discretion of the HHS Division heads, who should consider if travel is in accordance with CDC guidelines for travel and the Safer Federal Workplace Task Force travel page . 

Meetings, Events, and Conferences

  • All in-person attendees at any meetings, conferences, or events hosted by HHS must comply with relevant COVID-19 safety protocols, including as it relates to any mask-wearing when COVID-19 Community Levels are HIGH, pursuant to E.O. 13991 and consistent with CDC guidance.
  • Divisions will not require that in-person attendees at HHS-hosted meetings, events, and conferences need to be able to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test based on their vaccination status.

Symptom Screening

  • If Federal employees, on-site contractor employees, or visitors have fever or chills, or if they have other new or unexplained symptoms consistent with COVID-19 such as new or unexplained onset of cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing, new or unexplained loss of taste or smell, or new or unexplained muscle aches, they should not enter an HHS workplace. If an individual suspects that they have COVID-19, such as because they have new or unexplained COVID-19 symptoms, but they do not yet have test results, they should not enter an HHS workplace and should get tested if they have not already done so.
  • Federal employees and contractor employees working on-site shall complete symptom screening self-checks prior to entry into any Federal facilities.  
  • Federal employees shall complete symptoms screening self-checks prior to interacting with members of the public in person as part of their official HHS responsibilities.
  • Any individual who develops new or unexplained symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or who tests positive for COVID-19, while onsite during the workday must immediately wear a high-quality mask or respirator (such as an N95), notify their supervisor (contractor employees should contact their company supervisor, and follow these guidelines), and promptly leave the workplace.  A list of symptoms that may require immediate medical attention can be accessed on the CDC website here .
  • Any individual who tests positive for COVID-19 should immediately report their status to their supervisor (contractor employees should report their status to their contract supervisor). 

Post-Exposure Precautions

  • Immediately wear a high-quality mask or respirator while working indoors at an HHS workplace or interacting indoors with members of the public in person as part of their official HHS responsibilities as soon as possible after notification of exposure and continue to do so for 10 full days from the date they were last exposed, in addition, the CDC recommends testing at day 6;
  • Take extra precautions, such as avoiding crowding and physically distancing from others, when they know they are around people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 while working onsite at an HHS workplace or interacting with members of the public in person as part of their official HHS responsibilities, for 10 full days from the date they were last exposed; and
  • Watch for COVID-19 symptoms for 10 full days from the date they were last exposed.
  • For purposes of calculating the 10 full days, day 0 is the day of their last known exposure to someone with COVID-19, and day 1 is the first full day after their last known exposure.
  • HHS requires its employees and onsite contractor employees who are known to have been exposed to COVID-19 and are onsite at an HHS workplace or interacting with members of the public in person as part of their official HHS responsibilities in the ten days following their last exposure must get tested for current infection with a viral test at least 5 days after their last known exposure (ideally, on or after day 6), even if they do not have symptoms.

Isolation and Post-Isolation Precautions

  • Any individual with probable or confirmed COVID-19, regardless of their vaccination status, must not enter a HHS facility or interact with members of the public in person as part of their official HHS responsibilities, consistent with CDC guidance on isolation, and monitor their symptoms.  This includes people who have an initial positive diagnostic viral test for COVID-19, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms, and people with symptoms of COVID-19, including people who are awaiting test results or have not been tested.
  • Divisions will allow individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 and never developed symptoms to return to working onsite at their workplace or interacting with members of the public as part of their official HHS responsibilities after 5 full days following their positive COVID-19 test (day 0 being the day the individual was tested).  Individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 and had symptoms may return to working onsite at an HHS workplace or interacting with members of the public as part of their official HHS responsibilities after 5 full days from the onset of symptoms (day 0 being the day of symptom onset), once they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and their other symptoms are improving.  Note that loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation.
  • If an individual had moderate illness (if they experienced shortness of breath or had difficulty breathing) or severe illness (they were hospitalized) due to COVID-19, or they have a weakened immune system, Divisions must advise the individual to delay returning to working onsite at an HHS workplace or interacting with members of the public as part of their official HHS responsibilities for a full 10 days.  If an individual had severe illness or has a weakened immune system, they should consult their healthcare provider before ending isolation.  If an individual is unsure if their symptoms are moderate or severe or if they have a weakened immune system, Divisions should advise the individual to talk to a healthcare provider for further guidance.
  • Once an individual has returned to working onsite at an HHS workplace or interacting with members of the public as part of their official HHS responsibilities after having tested positive for COVID-19 and isolated consistent with CDC guidance on isolation, then pursuant to E.O. 13991 and consistent with CDC guidance, the Division must instruct the individual to continue to take precautions consistent with CDC guidance for at least 10 full days after their first day of symptoms, or after the date of a positive viral test for asymptomatic individuals, including wearing a high-quality mask or respirator (such as an N95) when around others, avoiding eating and drinking around others, avoiding environments such as dining facilities, gyms, or other places where they may need to be unmasked around others, and avoiding being around people who they know are at high risk for severe disease from COVID-19.
  • As it relates to mask-wearing after returning from isolation, the Divisions may also inform such individuals that they can opt to take two viral antigen tests authorized by the FDA to detect current COVID-19 infection, starting on day 6. With two sequential negative tests 48 hours apart, the individual may remove their mask sooner than day 10. If either of their antigen test results are positive, the individual should continue taking antigen tests at least 48 hours apart until they have two sequential negative results. This may mean that the individual would continue wearing a mask and testing beyond day 10.
  • If at any point their COVID-19 symptoms recur or worsen, the Divisions must instruct the individual to again not enter an HHS facility or interact with members of the public as part of their official HHS responsibilities, restarting at day 0, consistent with E.O. 13991 and CDC recommendations on isolation and the isolation protocols herein.
  • Divisions should note that in the case of healthcare workers specifically, CDC recommends more specific guidance.  Divisions should review that guidance here .
  • For additional information, please review the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force FAQs on Post-Exposure Precautions and Isolation found here: FAQs

Confidentiality

  • All medical information that may be collected from Federal employees, including COVID-19 vaccination status, test results and any other information obtained as a result of testing and symptom screening and monitoring, will be treated as confidential information in accordance with applicable law, such as the Privacy Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), the Rehabilitation Act, and other EEO laws, and accessible only by those with a need to know to protect the health and safety of personnel.
  • Accessibility of Federal employees’ medical information related to COVID-19 will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), the Rehabilitation Act, and other EEO laws.  Additional guidance may be found here .  Medical information will “be treated as a confidential medical record” and be “collected and maintained on separate forms and in separate medical files.”  29 C.F.R. § 1630.14 (c)(1).  

Workplace Occupancy

  • There are no current workplace occupancy limits related to COVID-19.
  • When COVID-19 community levels are MEDIUM or HIGH, signage must be posted encouraging individuals, regardless of vaccination status, to consider avoiding crowding and physically distancing themselves from others in indoor common areas, meeting rooms, and high-risk settings in HHS facilities.  Pursuant to E.O. 13991, CDC guidance for physical distancing in specific settings, including healthcare and high-risk congregate settings, must be followed, as applicable.
  • When COVID-19 Community Levels are MEDIUM or HIGH, Divisions may consider establishing occupancy limits for indoor common areas and meeting rooms in HHS facilities, and in high-risk settings within HHS facilities, where necessary, including where ventilation and air filtration is challenging to improve, or crowding cannot otherwise be avoided.
  • Consult with the ASA (through the RTWP Task Force) if there is a need to establish occupancy limits to meet urgent, mission-critical needs, to ensure coordination with and approval by OS, OMB, OPM, and GSA.

Physical Distancing and Avoiding Crowding

  • When COVID-19 community levels are MEDIUM or HIGH, signage must be posted encouraging individuals, regardless of vaccination status, to consider avoiding crowding and physically distancing themselves from others in indoor common areas, meeting rooms, and high-risk settings in HHS facilities. 
  • Pursuant to E.O. 13991, CDC guidance for physical distancing in specific settings, including healthcare settings, must be followed, as applicable.

Environmental Cleaning

  • In some locations, facilities personnel may conduct enhanced cleaning in common use/high touch/high-density spaces, such as lobbies, restrooms, elevators, and stairwells.  Office space that is in regular use will be cleaned regularly, and in accordance with CDC guidelines and OSHA guidelines .
  • In the event of a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in the workplace (if the individual had been in the building within the previous 24 hours), enhanced environmental cleaning and, where recommended, disinfection will be performed in accordance with CDC and GSA guidance. More frequent cleaning or disinfecting may also be indicated if certain conditions apply.

Ventilation and Air Filtration

  • Additional modifications may be considered in accordance with CDC and OSHA guidance, including as workforce density increases.  To the maximum extent feasible, indoor ventilation will be optimized to increase the proportion of outdoor ventilation, improve filtration, and reduce or eliminate recirculation.
  • Divisions are encouraged to consider making use of portable air cleaners with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in indoor common areas and meeting rooms, particularly where ventilation or air filtration is otherwise challenging to improve, where crowding cannot be avoided, or in high-risk settings.

Vaccination Related Leave

  • Employees who are isolating because they have COVID-19 symptoms and are waiting for test results, or because they have probable or confirmed COVID-19 and is unable to or does not feel well enough to telework, may request sick leave, use accrued annual leave or other forms of earned paid time off (e.g., compensatory time off or credit hours), access a voluntary leave bank, or use unpaid leave in this situation, as appropriate. Weather and safety leave would be unavailable (see Office of Personnel Management, CPM 2020-02, February 7, 2020), but to mitigate exposure in the workplace, divisions may, on a limited basis, offer up to 1 day of administrative leave to employees who have COVID-19 symptoms and are isolating while actively seeking to be tested.
  • Managers will grant leave-eligible employees up to 4 hours of administrative leave to receive any dose of FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine.  The administrative leave will cover the time it takes to travel to the vaccination site, receive the vaccine dose, and return to work.  If an employee needs to spend less time getting the vaccine dose, only the needed amount of administrative leave should be granted. Employees should obtain advance approval from their supervisor before using administrative leave for purposes of obtaining a COVID-19 vaccine dose.  Employees may not be credited with administrative leave or overtime work for time spent getting a vaccine dose outside their tour of duty.  Any employee who may be covered by a vaccine requirement will be granted duty time to receive said required vaccine doses.
  • Managers should grant up to 2 workdays of administrative leave if an employee has an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine dose—regardless of whether that dose was required or not—that prevents the employee from working (i.e., no more than 2 workdays for reactions associated with a single dose). missions by promoting the health and safety of the Federal workforce.
  • Managers must grant administrative leave to any Federal employee who accompanies any family member who is receiving a COVID-19 vaccine dose.  For this purpose, a “family member” is an individual who meets the definition of that term in OPM’s leave regulations (see 5 CFR 630.201).  Divisions would need to grant leave-eligible employees up to 4 hours of administrative leave per dose—for example, up to a total of 16 hours of leave for a family member receiving four doses—for each family member the employee accompanies.  (If an employee needs to spend less time accompanying a family member who is receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, only the needed amount of administrative leave should be granted.)  Employees should obtain advance approval from their supervisor before being permitted to use administrative leave for COVID-19 vaccination purposes. Employees may not be credited with administrative leave or overtime work for time spent outside their tour of duty helping a family member get vaccinated.  This policy applies to covered vaccinations received after July 29, 2021.  Managers must continue to comply with HHS Leave policies as promulgated by the Office of Human Resources (OHR).

5.  Points of Contact

All questions regarding the HHS COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan and Implementation Guidance may be addressed to the Return to Workplace Task Force [email protected]

Additional Information for Division Leadership to Consider:

Appendix A:  Additional Resources/Web Links

Appendix a: additional resources.

The following provides additional resources for Divisions to inform their return to normal operations:

  • General CDC Guidance
  • Vaccines for COVID-19
  • Executive Order on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors (E.O. 14042)
  • Executive Order on Requiring Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination for Federal Employees (E.O. 14043)
  • Safer Federal Workforce Task Force Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  • Safer Federal Workforce Task Force Model Agency COVID-19 Safety Principles
  • OSHA: Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace
  • OSHA: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
  • OSHA Respirator Guidance

Summary of updates:

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Control and Prevention

Given the evolving nature of the pandemic, OSHA is in the process of reviewing and updating this document. These materials may no longer represent current OSHA recommendations and guidance. For the most up-to-date information, consult Protecting Workers Guidance .

Coronavirus Illustration | Photo: CDC

Measures for protecting workers from exposure to and infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), depends on exposure risk. That risk varies based on the type of work being performed, the potential for interaction (prolonged or otherwise) with people, and contamination of the work environment. Employers should adopt infection prevention and control strategies based on a thorough workplace hazard assessment , using appropriate combinations of engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent worker exposures. Some OSHA standards that apply to preventing occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 also require employers to train workers on elements of infection prevention and control, including PPE.

The general guidance below is meant to inform all U.S. workers and employers, but does not alter compliance responsibilities for any particular industry. Depending on where their operations fall in OSHA's exposure risk pyramid , workers and employers should also consult additional, specific guidance for those at either lower (i.e., caution) or increased (i.e., medium, high, or very high) risk of exposure. The exposure risk pyramid and a workplace hazard assessment , can help workers and employers identify exposure risk levels commonly associated with various sectors.

All employers should remain alert to and informed about changing outbreak conditions, including as they relate to community spread of the virus and testing availability, and implement infection prevention and control measures accordingly.

For the most up-to-date information on OSHA’s guidance see Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace .

hands under water | Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Defense

Interim General Guidance for All Workers and Employers

For all workers, regardless of specific exposure risks, it is always a good practice to:

  • Wear cloth face coverings , at a minimum, at all times when around coworkers or the general public. If a respirator, such as an N95 respirator or better, is needed for conducting work activities, then that respirator should be used, and the worker should use their cloth face covering when they are not using the respirator (such as during breaks or while commuting).
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and running water are not immediately available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol as active ingredients and rub hands together until they are dry. Always wash hands that are visibly soiled.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Practice good respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes or coughing/sneezing into your elbow/upper sleeve.
  • Avoid close contact (within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with people who are visibly sick and practice physical distancing with coworkers and the public.
  • Stay home if sick.
  • Recognize personal risk factors. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , certain people, including older adults and those with underlying conditions such as heart or lung disease, chronic kidney disease requiring dialysis, liver disease, diabetes, immune deficiencies, or obesity, are at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19.

The CDC has also developed interim COVID-19 guidance for businesses and employers . The interim guidance is intended to help prevent workplace exposure to acute respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. The guidance also addresses considerations that may help employers as community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 evolves. The guidance is intended for non-healthcare settings. Healthcare workers and employers should consult guidance specific to them, including the information below and on the CDC coronavirus webpage . Additional guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and other federal agencies may be relevant to both workers and employers.

Interim Guidance for Job Tasks Associated with Lower Exposure Risk

Workers whose jobs do not require contact with people known to have or suspected of having COVID-19, nor frequent close contact with (within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) the general public or other workers, are at lower risk of occupational exposure.

Worker in gown, gloves | Photo Credit: CDC/Kimberly Smith, Christine Ford

As the Hazard Recognition page explains, workers' job duties affect their level of occupational risk and such risk may change as workers conduct different tasks or circumstances change.

Employers and workers in operations associated with a lower risk of exposure should remain aware of evolving trends in community transmission. Changes in community transmission, or work activities that move employees into higher risk categories, may warrant additional precautions in some workplaces or for some workers.

Employers should monitor public health communications about COVID-19 recommendations, ensure that workers have access to that information, and collaborate with workers to designate effective means of communicating important COVID-19 information. Frequently check the OSHA and CDC COVID-19 websites for updates.

Interim Guidance for Job Tasks Associated with Increased Risk of Exposure to SARS-CoV-2

Certain workers are likely to perform job duties that involve medium, high, or very high occupational exposure risks in areas with community transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Many critical sectors depend on these workers to continue their operations. Examples of workers in these exposure risk groups include, but are not limited to, those in healthcare, emergency response, meat and poultry processing, retail stores (e.g., grocery stores, pharmacies), childcare and schools, and other critical infrastructure or essential operations. These workers and their employers should remain aware of the evolving community transmission risk .

As the Hazard Recognition page explains, workers' job duties affect their level of occupational risk. Employers should assess the hazards to which their workers may be exposed; evaluate the risk of exposure; and, select, implement, and ensure workers use controls to prevent exposure. Control measures may include a combination of engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and PPE.

All employers should consider developing COVID-19 response plans that use the hierarchy of controls and other tools to address protecting workers who remain in, or will return to, their workplaces during the COVID-19 public health emergency—including as outbreak conditions evolve. This section provides general information about protecting workers whose job tasks are associated with medium, high, and very high risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 during the COVID-19 pandemic and is intended to be used in tandem with other industry-specific resources linked above. In addition to considerations discussed in those resources, COVID-19 response plans may need to address:

Protect Workers Performing Screening Duties

As part of screening programs, ensure that personnel performing screening activities, including temperature checks, are appropriately protected from exposure to potentially infectious workers entering the workplace:

  • Implement engineering controls, such as physical barriers or dividers or rope and stanchion systems, to maintain at least 6 feet of distance between screeners and workers being screened.
  • Ensure that screening is conducted in a safe area by, for example, directing parking lot or delivery traffic elsewhere.
  • Such PPE may include gloves, a gown, a face shield, and, at a minimum, a medical-grade face mask.
  • Train employees on how to properly put on, take off, and dispose of all PPE.
  • OSHA video: Putting on and Taking off a Mask ( Spanish )
  • OSHA poster: Seven Steps to Correctly Wear a Respirator at Work ( available in 16 languages )

Worker Screening

Screening workers for COVID-19 signs and/or symptoms (such as through temperature checks) is a strategy that employers may choose to implement as part of their efforts to maintain or resume operations and reopen physical work sites. Employers may consider developing and implementing a screening and monitoring strategy aimed at preventing the introduction of SARS-CoV-2 into the work site.* Those who may be infected with SARS-CoV-2 may not show any signs or symptoms, thus screening and monitoring may have limitations. The complexity of screening will depend on the type of work site and the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak among staff, but, if implemented, should include:

  • Protocols for screening workers before entry into the workplace (which may entail asking workers to take their own temperatures or otherwise perform self-screening measures before reporting to work).
  • Criteria for the exclusion of sick workers (including asymptomatic workers who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and have not yet been cleared to discontinue isolation).
  • Criteria for return to work of exposed and recovered employees (those who have had signs or symptoms of COVID-19 but have gotten better).

Because people infected with SARS-CoV-2 can spread the virus even if they do not have signs/symptoms of infection, screening may play a part in a comprehensive program to monitor worker health during the pandemic but may have limited utility on its own. In many workplaces, screening efforts are likely to be most beneficial when conducted at home by individual workers. Employers' temperature screening plans may rely on workers self-monitoring, rather than employers directly measuring, temperatures. Consider implementing such programs in conjunction with sick leave policies that encourage sick workers, including those whose self-monitoring efforts reveal a fever, to stay at home. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19, eligible for 100% reimbursement through employer tax credits.

* Protocols for worker screening must be applied equally, without discrimination based on race, national origin, sex, age, disability, or other protected characteristics.

If employers choose to implement on-site screening or monitoring programs, they may need to be coordinated, as appropriate, with local public health authorities and occupational medicine and health and safety professionals.

Employers implementing on-site screening programs may need to plan for:

  • Providing verbal screening in appropriate languages to determine whether workers have had new or unexpected symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.
  • Checking temperatures of workers at the start of each shift to identify anyone with a fever of 100.4°F or greater (or reported feelings of feverishness). 1
  • Measures for testing workers for SARS-CoV-2 and responding to positive test results.
  • Encourage workers to self-isolate and contact a healthcare provider;
  • Provide information on the employer's return-to-work policies and procedures; and
  • Inform human resources, employer health unit (if applicable), bargaining unit representation (if applicable), and supervisor (so the worker can be moved off schedule during illness and a replacement can be assigned, if needed).
  • Conduct contact tracing to identify and inform coworkers or others that may have had exposure.
  • Measures to ensure worker privacy and confidentiality during any screening.
  • Regardless of how employers ultimately decide to implement temperature checks or other health screening measures, they should act cautiously on results. Employers should not presume that individuals who do not have a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 do not have the virus.
  • Similarly, because of the limitations of current testing capabilities, employers who implement workplace testing strategies should act cautiously on COVID-19 test results. Employers should not presume that individuals who test negative for SARS-CoV-2 infection (i.e., COVID-19) present no hazard to others in the workplace.
  • Employers should ensure that screening protocols are consistent with other labor and disability laws , and with collective bargaining agreements where applicable.

Employers should continue to implement universal cloth face coverings , basic hygiene, physical distancing , workplace controls, flexibilities (e.g. sick leave, telework), and employee training described in this and other OSHA and CDC guidance in ways that reflect the risk of community spread of SARS-CoV-2 from the geographical area where the workplace is located.

Identify and Isolate Suspected Cases

In workplaces where exposure to SARS-CoV-2 may occur, prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals is a critical step in protecting workers, visitors, and others at the work site.

  • Wherever feasible, keep infectious people out of the workplace, including through the use of a system for employees to report if they are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19 or through the use of screening measures, as described above.
  • If a worker develops signs or symptoms of COVID-19 at the workplace, send the person home or to seek medical care. (Similarly, consider asking customers and visitors who develop signs and/or symptoms of COVID-19 at the workplace to leave to avoid infecting others.)
  • If the person cannot immediately leave the workplace, isolate the individual in a location away from workers, customers, and other visitors and with a closed door (e.g., in a single occupancy restroom), if possible, until they can go home or leave to seek medical care.

Implement the Hierarchy of Controls

Employers' COVID-19 response plans should utilize the hierarchy of controls , which generally labels and prioritizes controls in the following order from most to least effective: elimination/substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls and safe work practices, and PPE.

Efforts to exclude potentially infectious individuals from the workplace are consistent with the aim of eliminating the hazard.

Engineering controls typically require a physical change to the workplace to isolate workers from a hazard. Examples of engineering controls that employers may find useful for protecting workers from SARS-CoV-2 include:

  • Installing plexiglass, stainless steel, or other barriers between workers, such as on assembly lines, or between workers and customers, such as at points of sale.
  • Using rope and stanchion systems to keep customers/visitors from queueing within 6 feet of work areas.
  • Adjusting ventilation systems to introduce additional outside air and/or increase air exchange to introduce fresh air. Consult a qualified technician if necessary.
  • Modifying physical workspaces to increase the distance between employees.

Administrative controls and safe work practices change policies and procedures for how workers perform job duties to ensure work activities are conducted safely. Examples of administrative controls that employers may find useful for protecting workers from SARS-CoV-2 include:

  • Limiting the number of workers assigned to a particular shift in a facility and ensuring workstations are spaced at least 6 feet apart.
  • Posting signage, in languages the workers understand, to remind workers, customers, and visitors to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet between one another and to practice regular hand hygiene.
  • Providing training and information in languages the workers understand.
  • Increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfection within the work site.
  • Encouraging or permitting workers to wear cloth face coverings, if appropriate, to help contain potentially infectious respiratory droplets.

PPE protects workers from hazards when engineering and administrative controls are insufficient on their own. The types of PPE that workers may need for protection from exposures to SARS-CoV-2 in areas with community transmission will vary based on work activities, exposure risks, and the results of the employer's hazard assessment . The Additional Considerations for PPE section provides additional details about PPE selection and use for all employers whose workers have increased risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 during the pandemic. Because of PPE supply chain concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic, employers should consider whether operations that require PPE can be delayed either until PPE is not needed (e.g., because the COVID-19 hazard diminishes) or until PPE supply chains stabilize. Employers should consider accommodations for religious exercise for those employees who, for instance, have or cannot trim facial hair due to religious belief, or provide reasonable modifications for persons with disabilities.

Additional Considerations for PPE

Interim guidance for specific types of workers and employers includes recommended PPE ensembles for various types of activities that workers may perform. In general:

  • PPE may be needed when engineering and administrative controls are insufficient to protect workers from exposure to SARS-CoV-2 or other workplace hazards and essential work operations must continue.
  • PPE should be selected based on the results of an employer's hazard assessment and workers' specific job duties.
  • PPE ensembles should reflect the types of exposures identified in an employer's hazard assessment. Most workers' exposure to SARS-CoV-2 is likely to be through the contact or droplet routes, although some workers, including those in healthcare, postmortem care, and laboratories, may have exposure to aerosols for which higher level PPE (including N95 respirator with an assigned protection factor of 10 or better) is needed.
  • When disposable gloves are used, workers should typically use a single pair of nitrile exam gloves (unless other gloving protocols are necessary for the work setting or task). Change gloves if they become torn or visibly contaminated with blood or body fluids.
  • Personal eyeglasses are not considered adequate eye protection.
  • Cloth face coverings are not acceptable substitutes for PPE intended to prevent worker exposure to droplets or other splashes or sprays of liquids.
  • Surgical masks are not respirators and do not provide the same level of protection to workers as properly-fitted respirators. Cloth face coverings are also not acceptable substitutes for respirators.
  • An OSHA poster ( available in 16 languages ) and video ( Spanish ) provide information about how to properly wear and dispose of filtering facepiece respirators.
  • Workers need respiratory protection when performing or while present for aerosol-generating procedures, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and intubation.
  • Workers must be protected against exposure to human blood, body fluids, other potentially infectious materials as well as hazardous chemicals and contaminated environmental surfaces.
  • These guidelines are intended for use in healthcare but may help employers in other sectors optimize their PPE supplies as well.
  • After removing PPE, always wash hands with soap and water, if available, for at least 20 seconds. Ensure that hand hygiene facilities (e.g., sink or alcohol-based hand sanitizer) are readily available at the point of use (e.g., at or adjacent to the PPE removal area).
  • Employers should establish, and ensure workers follow, standard operating procedures for cleaning (including laundering) PPE and items such as uniforms or laboratory coats, as well as for maintaining, storing, and disposing of PPE. When PPE is contaminated with human blood, body fluids, or other potentially infectious materials, employers must follow applicable requirements of the Bloodborne Pathogens standard ( 29 CFR 1910.1030 ) with respect to laundering. OSHA's Enforcement Procedures for the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens ( CPL 02-02-069 ) provide additional information.

Employers in all sectors may experience shortages of PPE, including gowns, face shields, face masks, and respirators, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although employers are always responsible for complying with OSHA's PPE standards (in general industry, 29 CFR 1910 Subpart I , and, in construction, 29 CFR 1926 Subpart E ), including the Respiratory Protection standard ( 29 CFR 1910.134 ), whenever they apply, OSHA is providing temporary enforcement flexibility for certain requirements under these and other health standards.

See the Enforcement Memoranda section of the Standards page for further information.

Additional Considerations for Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection

When people touch a surface or object contaminated with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and then touch their own eyes, noses, or mouths, they may expose themselves to the virus.

Early information from the CDC, the National Institutes of Health, and other study partners suggests that SARS-CoV-2 can survive on certain types of surfaces, such as plastic and stainless steel, for 2-3 days. However, because the transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 from contaminated environmental surfaces and objects is still not fully understood, employers should carefully evaluate whether or not work areas occupied by people suspected to have the virus may have been contaminated and whether or not they need to be disinfected in response.

The CDC provides instructions for environmental cleaning and disinfection for various types of workplaces, including:

  • Healthcare facilities , as part of CDC healthcare infection control recommendations
  • Postmortem care facilities , such as autopsy suites
  • Laboratories
  • Other, non-healthcare facilities

Employers operating workplaces during the COVID-19 pandemic should continue routine cleaning and other housekeeping practices in any facilities that remain open to workers or others. Employers who need to clean and disinfect environments potentially contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 should use EPA-registered disinfectants with label claims to be effective against SARS-CoV-2. Routine cleaning and disinfection procedures (e.g., using cleaners and water to pre-clean surfaces before applying an EPA-registered disinfectant to frequently touched surfaces or objects for appropriate contact times as indicated on the product's label) are appropriate for SARS-CoV-2, including in patient care areas in healthcare settings in which aerosol-generating procedures are performed.

Workers who conduct cleaning tasks must be protected from exposure to hazardous chemicals used in these tasks. In these cases, the PPE (in general industry, 29 CFR 1910 Subpart I , and, in construction, 29 CFR 1926 Subpart E ) and Hazard Communication ( 29 CFR 1910.1200 ) standards may apply, and workers may need appropriate PPE to prevent exposure to the chemicals. If workers need respirators, they must be used in the context of a comprehensive respiratory protection program that meets the requirements of OSHA's Respiratory Protection standard ( 29 CFR 1910.134 ) and includes medical exams, fit testing, and training.

Cleaning chemicals' Safety Data Sheets and other manufacturer instructions can provide additional guidance about whether workers need PPE to use the chemicals safely.

Do not use compressed air or water sprays to clean potentially contaminated surfaces, as these techniques may aerosolize infectious material. More information about protecting environmental services workers is included in the worker-specific section, below.

Additional Considerations for Worker Training

Train all workers with occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (as described in this document) about the sources of exposure to the virus, the hazards associated with that exposure, and appropriate workplace protocols in place to prevent or reduce the likelihood of exposure. Training should include information about how to isolate individuals with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 or other infectious diseases, and how to report possible cases. Training must be offered during scheduled work times and at no cost to the employee.

Workers required to use PPE must be trained. This training includes when to use PPE; what PPE is necessary; how to properly don (put on), use, and doff (take off) PPE; how to properly dispose of or disinfect, inspect for damage, and maintain PPE; and the limitations of PPE. Applicable standards include the PPE ( 29 CFR 1910.132 ), Eye and Face Protection ( 29 CFR 1910.133 ), Hand Protection ( 29 CFR 1910.138 ), and Respiratory Protection ( 29 CFR 1910.134 ) standards. OSHA's website offers a variety of training videos about respiratory protection.

When the potential exists for exposure to human blood, certain body fluids, or other potentially infectious materials , workers must receive the training required by the Bloodborne Pathogens (BBP) standard ( 29 CFR 1910.1030 ), including information about how to recognize tasks that may involve exposure and the methods, such as engineering controls, work practices, and PPE, to reduce exposure. Further information on OSHA's BBP training regulations and policies is available for employers and workers on the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens and Needlestick Prevention Safety and Health Topics page.

OSHA's Training and Reference Materials Library contains training and reference materials developed by the OSHA Directorate of Training and Education as well as links to other related sites. The materials listed for Bloodborne Pathogens, PPE, Respiratory Protection, and SARS may provide additional material for employers to use in preparing training for their workers.

OSHA's Personal Protective Equipment Safety and Health Topics page also provides information on training in the use of PPE.

Additional Considerations for Workers with Increased Susceptibility for SARS-CoV-2 Infection or Complications

Consider offering workers who may be at increased susceptibility for SARS-CoV-2 infection or complications from COVID-19 adjustments to their work responsibilities or locations to minimize exposure. Other flexibilities, if feasible, can help prevent potential exposures among workers who have heart or lung disease, chronic kidney disease requiring dialysis, liver disease, diabetes, severe obesity, or immunocompromising health conditions. Employers should be cognizant of the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The EEOC has issued guidance about COVID-19 and equal employment opportunity laws.

Additional Considerations for Return-to-Work Planning

OSHA's guidance on returning to work assists employers in reopening non-essential businesses and their employees returning to work during the evolving coronavirus pandemic. The CDC has issued specific guidelines for returning to work, including after recovering from COVID-19 or having exposure to someone who has COVID-19, for certain sectors (e.g., healthcare and other critical infrastructure ). Return to work guidance for non-healthcare workers may be based on criteria for ending home isolation . The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and the National Safety Council (NSC) also provide recommendations to help employers and workers safely return to work.

1 Note that 29 CFR 1910.1020 may apply to temperature records. Employers should evaluate the burdens and benefits of maintaining temperature records or asking workers to complete written questionnaires, as both will qualify as medical records if made or maintained by a physician, nurse, or other health care personnel, or technician. If employers do not record workers' temperatures, or if workers' temperatures are recorded but not made or maintained by a physician, nurse, or other health care personnel or technician, the mere taking of a temperature would not amount to a record that must be retained.

WorkSafe Tasmania

Safe and well every day

Tasmanian Government website

Create your COVID-19 Safety Plan

This guide:

  • will help you create your COVID-19 Safety Plan
  • will make sure you have appropriate and effective controls in your workplace for reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission in your workplace.

Conduct a risk assessment

The Work Health and Safety Act 2012 requires you to identify hazards in your workplace, assess their risks to health and safety, and implement control measures to reduce those risks.

COVID-19 is workplace hazard, so like any other workplace hazard, you must follow this risk assessment process to comply with your work health and safety duties.

Doing a risk assessment will help you to identify and assess your COVID-19 risks, and determine what controls will be suitable and effective to reduce these risks. These controls will then make up your COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Risks should be considered in terms of:

  • risks to your workers
  • risks to your customers and businesses that you service
  • risks to visitors entering your workplace
  • risks to the continuity of your business.

For detailed guidance on doing a COVID-19 risk assessment, see:

  • WorkSafe’s guidance note on How to conduct a COVID-19 risk assessment
  • the code of practice How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks for guidance on how to undertake a risk assessment.

Write a plan

Documenting your control measures in a plan is one of the best ways to show your commitment to preventing the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace. It ensures all your workers know what your control measures are and what is expected of them.

You can use our template to create your COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Implement your plan

Once you’ve created your COVID-19 Safety Plan, you need to put the control measures into practice in your daily operations.

You may need to modify existing work procedures to incorporate the new controls, and workers will need to be instructed and receive training on the new requirements.

You need to implement all the controls identified in the plan where practical. The more controls you can apply in your workplace, the more likely it is that you will reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Consult with your workers

You must consult with your workers and their health and safety representatives as you conduct your risk assessment and develop, implement and review your plan and control measures. Who else knows your business better than the people that do the work? Get their input and involve them in the decision making process to get a better outcome.

You must also provide your workers with the information, instruction and training needed to ensure they know what to do, how to do it, when to apply controls and why.

It’s the actual behaviours of your workers, contractors and customers while in your workplace that will determine if COVID-19 will impact your business.

Review your COVID-19 Safety Plan

Your COVID-19 Safety Plan should be reviewed to help you ensure the safety of your workers, contractors and customers.

Regularly check coronavirus.tas.gov.au and update your plan if necessary.

You should also review your plan if you change your business operations, your systems of work, or the work tasks your workers perform. You’ll need to complete a risk assessment to see how your health and safety risks have changed and help identify what changes you need to make to manage them.

Control measures

Maintain physical distance.

  • Density limits

Stay home if unwell

Providing information, training and instruction to workers, providing adequate supervision (in implementing the plan), vaccinations, ventilation, outbreak management.

Physical distancing is one of the strongest ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Maintaining at least 1.5 metres between people is recommended.

Review the layout of your workplace and work processes to consider how you can allow your workers to spread out and stay 1.5 metres apart. You may need to redesign your workplace layout, or change the processes and the way workers worker together.

Ways to do this include:

  • displaying signs to remind workers to maintain physical distancing
  • placing stickers, crosses or other marks on the floor to designate where workers should stand (for example on processing lines)
  • re-arranging furniture so chairs are 1.5 metres apart.

Limiting the number of workers in enclosed spaces also helps maintain physical distancing.

If any of your workers can work from home, this may help create more space between workers who remain at your workplace.

Ways to ensure physical distancing by customers, patrons and other visitors include:

  • displaying signs at the entrance telling visitors to maintain physical distancing
  • placing stickers, crosses or other marks on the floor to guide customers where to stand in queues
  • re-arranging furniture so chairs are 1.5 metres apart (for example in cafes or at hair salons).

Empower your workers to remind visitors of your physical distancing requirements.

In some situations physical distancing isn’t practicable; for example, groups of people seated at the same table in a café. In this case, there should be 1.5 metres between groups of people.

Finally, have you considered density limits in your workplace, and how this may impact the ability to maintain physical distancing?

Other measures

Where it’s not reasonably practicable to ensure the recommended physical distancing, use other control measures. Masks and Perspex screens can protect workers and visitors when physical distancing cannot be achieved.

Facemasks are an effective COVID-19 control measure, when worn consistently and correctly. See our guidance on conducting a risk assessment for wearing face masks .

Many workplaces have adopted perspex barriers in high traffic areas to protect workers, particularly where physical distancing is possible (for example, supermarket checkouts). If you use these barriers, make sure they are cleaned regularly. Looking at your work processes will help you identify high risk areas where this may be useful.

Stopping people from entering your workplace who are unwell or displaying COVID-19 symptoms can reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Encourage any worker with COVID-19 symptoms to stay at home. Educate and train your workers on the main symptoms of COVID-19; find information on these at coronavirus.tas.gov.au .

Ways to reduce the risk of customers, patrons and other visitors entering your workplace with COVID-19 include:

  • displaying signs at the entrance telling visitors not to enter if they have COVID-19 symptom or cold/flu symptoms.
  • asking people to leave your premises if they display symptoms associated with COVID-19
  • ensuring contractors/suppliers confirm they are well when ‘signing in’
  • updating your induction procedures to ensure all contractors are aware of your COVID-19 controls
  • empowering workers to monitor visitors, to check if they are unwell, and to ask them to leave if they are not.

Having appropriate hygiene controls in place and encouraging your workers to have good hygiene practices can reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Hand washing using soap and water or using hand sanitiser are important hygiene practices. Avoiding touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth is also important.

Ways to encourage good hygiene practices include encouraging everyone to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds and dry them with clean paper towel; or use 70% alcohol-based hand sanitiser if unable to wash hands. This should occur not just after going to the toilet or before/after eating, but when changing tasks and after touching potentially contaminated surfaces.

Display signs on correct hand washing in toilets and staff break rooms.

You must provide all supplies and equipment necessary to ensure good hygiene practices can be followed.

Cleaning schedule

Prepare, implement, and maintain a schedule for routinely cleaning and (where appropriate) disinfecting your workplace.

Your cleaning schedule should:

  • consider the level of risk of COVID-19 transmission within your workplace
  • identify what needs to be cleaned and disinfected, how often, and how the cleaning/disinfecting is to be done
  • be written down and displayed so workers are aware of the requirements.

Important points to remember when cleaning include:

  • clean frequently touched or used surfaces/areas regularly throughout the day; clean less frequently used surfaces and or areas at least daily
  • keep a record of shared rooms (for example meeting rooms and tea rooms) and when they were last cleaned
  • start cleaning the cleanest surface first, progressively moving towards the dirtiest surface
  • when surfaces are clean, they should be as dry as possible, to prevent slips/falls and the spread of viruses through droplets.

Important points to remember when disinfecting include:

  • disinfecting means using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. These can be liquids, sprays or wipes, and are labelled ‘disinfectant’ on their packaging
  • disinfectants are usually only necessary if a surface is contaminated with potentially infectious material, or if your workplace has many customers or others entering each day
  • it is important to clean before disinfecting.

Cleaning staff

Cleaning staff must sign the cleaning schedule each time they clean an area or item.

Consult with your workers responsible for cleaning or your cleaning contractor about your requirements.

Instruct workers in the safe use of cleaning chemicals. Make sure safety data sheets are available. Make sure workers wear gloves and eye protection when handling and preparing disinfecting solutions.

Ensure cleaning staff can maintain the increased cleaning schedule. Discuss any supplies or equipment needed.

Cleaning supplies

You must provide all supplies and equipment necessary to ensure your cleaning schedule and requirements are implemented.

Select and use appropriate cleaning and disinfecting products.

Implement procedures for the safe disposal of contaminated waste.

See Safe Work Australia’s information on cleaning and disinfecting .

Cleaning plan

You should develop a cleaning plan that sets out how you will clean your business if you have had a COVID positive case on site.

Provide your workers, contractors and volunteers with information, training, and instruction on:

  • the risks of COVID-19 transmission in your workplace
  • your COVID-19 Safety Plan and its control measures to reduce those risks.

You must also provide your customers, patrons and other visitors to your workplace with information about your control measures, and how they must follow these.

  • displaying posters in your workplace
  • holding training sessions and including information in inductions
  • providing written or digital information.

Workers and visitors must comply, so far as they area reasonably able to, with any reasonable instruction you give to manage the risks of COVID-19.

Provide adequate supervision to your workers to ensure that your control measures are implemented.

Provide your supervisors with guidance to ensure that COVID-19 controls are applied and enforced at all times. Supervisors must ensure that these controls are incorporated into daily work practices and processes.

Vaccinations are an important part of keeping the Australian community safe and healthy. A person who is vaccinated against COVID-19 is much less likely to suffer serious health effects from the virus if they catch COVID 19.

However, a vaccinated person may still unknowingly carry and spread the virus to others around them, including workers and others in their workplace. Because of this, even if your workers are vaccinated, you must continue to implement your other control measures.

Ask your workers if they have been vaccinated. While it is not mandatory for workers to share this information with you, most will. This information can then be used to inform your risk assessment when deciding whether to make vaccination mandatory in your workplace.

Workers in some industries may be required to be vaccinated. This should be reflected in your COVID-19 Safety Plan. To see which workers are currently covered by this, see coronavirus.tas.gov.au .

You can only require your workers to be vaccinated where:

  • a specific law requires a worker to be vaccinated
  • the requirement is permitted by an enterprise agreement, other registered agreement or employment contract, or
  • it would be lawful and reasonable for an employer to give their workers a direction to be vaccinated, which is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

One or more of these circumstances can apply when you are requiring a worker to be vaccinated.

See the Fair Work Ombudsman’s information on mandatory vaccinations at coronavirus.fairwork.gov.au .

Risk assessments to mandate vaccination

Where vaccinations are not mandated, do a risk assessment to determine if the risks of COVID-19 are significant and if mandating vaccinations would reduce those risks. This should be done in consultation with your workers.

Your risk assessment should address matters including:

  • the nature of each workplace: whether physical distancing is possible, and whether the business is providing an essential service
  • how much workers need to work with/come into contact with the public, what kind of people they will interact with
  • the extent of community transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace’s location
  • the terms of any government mandates in place where the workplace is located
  • each worker’s circumstances, including their duties and the risks associated with their work; and if they have a legitimate reason for not being vaccinated (for example, a medical reason).

See WorkSafe’s guidance note on How to conducting a COVID-19 risk assessment .

COVID-19 droplets can spread between people and be inhaled more easily indoors than outdoors. Good ventilation can reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, so review the ventilation systems in your workplace.

  • open a window to allow greater air movement in a room or area
  • avoid using rooms where there is no air conditioning
  • leave a door open when having multiple persons in the room.

Contact an air conditioning professional if you want to have your air conditioning arrangements assessed.

See Safe Work Australia’s information on heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems .

Your COVID-19 Safety Plan should include how you will respond if there is a COVID-19 case or transmission in your workplace.

See coronavirus.tas.gov.au for information on preparing a case and outbreak management plan, including a template.

Incident notification for COVID-19

You must notify WorkSafe Tasmania when it is a confirmed that someone has contracted COVID-19 through carrying out work and:

  • the person dies; or
  • the person requires treatment as an in-patient in a hospital; or
  • the reason the person contracted COVID-19 is reliably attributable to carrying out work that involves providing treatment or care to a person; or involves contact with human blood or body substances. In this case, the carrying out of work must be a significant contributing factor to the infection being contracted.

You must notify WorkSafe Tasmania immediately after you become aware of the situation. Call WorkSafe Tasmania on 1300 366 322 or submit an online notification .

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Find information for you

Covid-19 information for small business.

On this page:

Duties under WHS laws

Risk assessments, covid-19 vaccines, small business planning tool, industry guidance, covid-19 resource kit, information in your language, mental health, resources for small business.

Some business operations are restricted under state or territory government public health directions. If you want to know what restrictions on business operations apply to your workplace, go to your state or territory government website . 

You can also go to our Public health directions and COVIDSafe plans page for links to enforceable government directions.

Businesses must only operate to the extent permissible in each state and territory. The information provided below outlines measures which cover all aspects of services offered by the industry – depending on what is permissible in your jurisdiction, some sections may not be currently relevant to your business. You should check any relevant advice from your state or territory regarding working from home in response to COVID-19. 

Safe Work Australia does not regulate or enforce WHS laws or COVID-19 restrictions on business operations. If you want to know how WHS laws apply to you or need help with what to do at your workplace, contact the WHS regulator in your jurisdiction.

Safe Work Australia has developed this small business hub with tailored guidance for small businesses to help you understand your work health and safety duties and manage risks arising from COVID-19.

The model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws require you to take care of the health, safety and welfare of your workers, including you, your staff, contractors and volunteers, and others at your workplace.

Read more about your duties under WHS laws during the COVID-19 pandemic .

A COVID-19 work health and safety risk assessment is an essential step for small businesses. You must assess the risks associated with exposure to COVID-19 and implement control measures to manage those risks.

Watch the video for information or read more about COVID-19 risk assessments for small business .

See our full playlist of videos to help your small business through the COVID-19 pandemic.

For information about your obligations under the model WHS laws and how these relate to COVID-19 vaccines, go to the vaccination information for your industry . 

A tool outlining key steps and considerations when operating your small business during the COVID-19 pandemic. Go to the COVID-19 Small business planning tool.

WHS guidance for COVID-19 is available for over 30 different industries on key topics such as duties under WHS laws, physical distancing, cleaning and hygiene. Go to the COVID-19 WHS industry guidance .

A range of resources are available for you download and use in your workplace including posters and signage, checklists, templates and infographics. Go to the COVID-19 resource kit .

Translated information about COVID-19 and work health and safety is available on the COVID-19 In language website.

WHS laws apply to managing risks to psychological (mental) health too. Go to information on Mental health and COVID-19.

The Australian Government has established the My Business Health website to help small business owners and sole traders, it includes mental health support. 

The website Ahead for business also provides help for small business owners and those that support them. 

covid safe business plan example

Australian Capital Territory Resources

The ACT Government COVID-19 website is the central hub for the latest information on COVID-19. It also has industry-specific information and resources relevant to local businesses supported by the Economic Survival Package .

For ACT businesses who have questions or need advice about COVID-19, two dedicated phone support services are available:

  • Access Canberra business liaison line: 6205 0900 offering advice about how to operate a COVID safe business
  • Canberra business advice and support service: 6297 3121 for tailored advice for ACT businesses impacted by COVID-19.

The WorkSafe ACT website contains information about an employer’s work health and safety obligations relating to COVID-19. This includes information about:

  • Minimising risks
  • Physical distancing
  • The mental health impacts of COVID-19
  • WHS training and assessment
  • Workers who might be at risk
  • Working safely from home

ACT businesses can also email Worksafe ACT at [email protected]

covid safe business plan example

New South Wales Resources

covid safe business plan example

Northern Territory Resources

For the latest information and updates about COVID-19 in the Northern Territory, visit the NT COVID-19 website.

NT WorkSafe also offers a small business safety program which is designed to assist small businesses to understand and comply with their work health and safety obligations.

covid safe business plan example

Queensland Resources

The Office of Industrial Relations (OIR) has a dedicated COVID-19 advice page that provides a variety of resources for small businesses and their workers on how to manage COVID-19 and associated risks in the workplace including guidance on developing a COVID-19 specific management plan.

OIR also has the following resources available for small businesses:

  • The Injury Prevention and Management program (IPaM) is a tailored WHS service that provides a dedicated Advisor to assist small businesses implement the foundations of a strong safety management system including advice on control for COVID-19 for the unique circumstances of each business.
  • The Safety Fundamentals toolkit provides small businesses with a free, self-directed WHS systems assessment and improvement tools and templates that can be used in the workplace to manage key aspects of a small business’ WHS management system.

Other resources for Queensland businesses include:

  • The Queensland Government’s COVID-19 page
  • Worksafe Queensland;
  • Business Queensland
  • The Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Facebook page regularly posts information on current business restrictions and promotes available resources.

covid safe business plan example

South Australia Resources

South Australia has a number of resources for businesses operating during COVID-19:

  • The COVID-19 business information and support page on the SA Business Information Hub
  • For information on COVID-19 financial relief see the RevenueSA COVID-19 Relief page
  • The Department of Treasury has information on support for businesses, jobs and the community impacted by COVID-19
  • The Department for Trade and Investment has information on business continuity planning, risk management, insurance, banking and supply chain management on its business operations page
  • Small businesses in primary industries can find information on COVID-19 on the Department of Primary Industries and Regions website
  • Consumer and Business Services , a division of the South Australian Government’s Attorney-General’s Department, has COVID-19 advice for businesses who provide services such as rental and real estate, liquor and gambling, occupational licencing, building issues and associations charities and lotteries.
  • The South Australian Small Business Commissioner provides information and updates on COVID-19.
  • The South Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry provides information for businesses operating during COVID-19.

For health-related advice:

  • see the South Australian Government’s website on COVID-19.
  • see also SA Health’s website on COVID-19 health information . SA Health also provide information on self-isolation and self-quarantine
  • SA Pathology provides information and advice for businesses on managing COVID-19 in your workplace and a factsheet on identifying COVID-19 symptoms .
  • Uniting Communities provides information on the SA COVID-19 Mental Health Support line

covid safe business plan example

Tasmania Resources

WorkSafe Tasmania provides information as well as an Advisory Service on COVID-19 workplace safety. You can access the information on the Worksafe Tasmania website or by contacting WorkSafe on 1300 366 322 for further information or to book a workplace visit with an Adviser.

Business Tasmania provides COVID-19 Information for businesses on support, grants and loans. For more information call 1800 440 026 or email [email protected]

The Checkin website , operated by the Mental Health Council of Tasmania provides information and advice on mental wellbeing.

covid safe business plan example

Victoria Resources

WorkSafe Victoria contains a range of guidance and information to support industries preventing exposure in the workplace during COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus Victoria contains information for business grants and support, guidance on how to keep workplaces safe and information on restrictions for industry sectors.

Business Victoria contains a range of advice, information and resources on restrictions and support to help workplaces plan and respond to coronavirus

covid safe business plan example

Western Australia Resources

Visit the business tools and information page on the Western Australian COVID-19 website.

WorkSafe WA also has information for businesses operating during COVID-19 including industry specific information, looking after your mental health, what to do if a worker has COVID-19 and frequently asked questions.

covid safe business plan example

National Resources

The Australian Small business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman has information on helping businesses through COVID-19.

The Australian Government’s Business website has COVID-19 information and support for businesses including information on financial assistance, eligibility and timing of government support.

To ensure this information is as accessible and easy to understand as possible, we refer to ‘employers’ and their responsibilities.

However, under the model WHS laws , duties apply to any person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) which includes employers, but also others who engage workers. For more information about who is a PCBU see our Interpretive Guideline – model Work Health and Safety Act – the meaning of ‘person conducting a business or undertaking' .

The model WHS laws have been implemented in all jurisdictions except Victoria.

Safe Work Australia does not regulate or enforce WHS laws or the recently introduced COVID-19 restrictions on business operations. If you want to know how WHS laws apply to you or need help with what to do at your workplace, contact the WHS regulator in your jurisdiction. If you want to know what restrictions on business operations apply to you or your workplace, go to your relevant state and territory government website for information.

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  • Growth and Jobs at Davos 2024: What to know
  • How using genAI to fuse creativity and technology could reshape the way we work

1. Generative AI boosts productivity, unevenly

In 2024, most chief economists surveyed by the Forum believe generative AI will increase productivity and innovation in high-income countries. But for low-income countries, just over a third think this will be the case.

Productivity boosts are expected in knowledge-heavy industries, including IT and digital communications, financial and professional services, medical and healthcare services, retail, manufacturing, engineering and construction, energy and logistics.

These potential benefits are in "sharp contrast with concerns about the risks of automation, job displacement and degradation", says the report.

Almost three-quarters (73%) of chief economists surveyed "do not foresee a net positive impact on employment in low-income economies".

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2. Digital jobs keep growing

By 2030, the number of global digital jobs is expected to rise to around 92 million. These are generally higher-paid roles, according to the Forum's white paper, The Rise of Digital Jobs .

Digital jobs could help to balance skill shortages in higher-income countries, while boosting opportunities for younger workers in lower-income countries: "If managed well, global digital jobs present an opportunity to utilize talent around the world, widening the talent pool available to employers and providing economic growth pathways to countries across the income spectrum."

3. Unemployment levels could rise

The labour market showed resilience in 2023, with employment remaining high, said Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), in the Davos session ' What to Expect From Labour Markets '.

But he said ILO projections in early January suggested the global unemployment rate could rise from 5.1% to 5.2% in 2024, with an extra two million workers expected to be looking for jobs.

In the US, the jobs market remained stronger than expected for the first month of the year, with more than 350,000 new jobs added. The unemployment rate for January was 3.7%, close to a 50-year low, according to The Guardian .

Houngbo said ILO data shows inequalities persist between low- and high-income countries, while young people are 3.5 times more at risk of being unemployed than the rest of the adult population and "many workers are struggling to pay bills, which is very worrisome".

The impact of AI on jobs was not going to be "an employment apocalypse", but that reskilling, upskilling and lifelong learning would be key to managing the transition to augmentation, he stressed.

4. More pop-up offices

LinkedIn has seen a drop in the number of fully remote job postings, from a peak of 20% in April 2022, to just 8% in December 2023, said co-founder Allen Blue, speaking in a Davos session ' The Role of the Office is Still TBC ' .

But employee interest in taking remote or hybrid jobs remains high, at around 46% of applications.

"The office is going to be in competition with working from home ... that’s a good thing for the office," he said, as management would need to innovate and create a workplace environment that "emphasizes dynamic human interaction".

Young people taking their first job want human connection, so they're more interested in hybrid than remote roles.

Martin Kocher, Austria's Federal Minister of Labour and Economy, said that some Austrian villages are actually paying for pop-up community office spaces, because people don’t want to work from home, and they can make use of other amenities close by.

He predicted the development of more pop-up office spaces away from company headquarters.

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  • Davos 2024: 6 innovative ideas on reskilling, upskilling and building a future-ready workforce
  • From hierarchy to partnership: rethinking the employee/employer relationship in 2024

5. Skills will become even more important

With 23% of jobs expected to change in the next five years, according to the Future of Jobs Report, millions of people will need to move between declining and growing jobs.

Coursera CEO, Jeff Maggioncalda and Denis Machuel, CEO of Adecco Group AG, joined the Davos session ' The Race to Reskill ' to discuss the transferability of skills, and the potential of AI to help with personalized learning and productivity, which also levels the playing field for job opportunities globally.

But the key is in learning how to use AI and digital technologies, as Code.org Founder and CEO, Hadi Partovi, pointed out in the session ' Education Meets AI '.

When people think about job losses due to AI, he said, the risk isn't people losing their jobs to AI: "It's losing their job to somebody else who knows how to use AI. That is going to be a much greater displacement.

"It's not that the worker gets replaced by just a robot or a machine in most cases, especially for desk jobs, it's that some better or more educated worker can do that job because they can be twice as productive or three times as productive.

“The imperative is to teach how AI tools work to every citizen, and especially to our young people."

6. More women enter the workforce

In 2020, the World Bank found that potential gains from closing economic gender gaps could unlock a “gender dividend” of $172 trillion for the global economy.

But the Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2023 found that the Economic Participation and Opportunity gap has only closed by just over 60%.

Several sessions at Davos looked at how inclusion could benefit the economy , particularly by helping mothers return to the workforce, which could close skills gaps.

“There are 606 million women of working age in the world who are not working because of their unpaid care responsibilities, compared to 40 million men," Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Moms First, explained in a session on the ‘ Workforce Behind the Workforce ’.

“At Moms First, we're working with over 130 companies in every sector, who are saying, ‘I don't have enough workers’. We are working with them to redesign their childcare packages and increase their subsidies.

“Childcare pays for itself. When you offer childcare to employees, you get higher worker productivity and lower rates of attrition, and greater rates of retention. We have to look at care as an economic issue that world leaders must actually do something about.”

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  6. Employee Resources for COVID-19 Safe Workplace

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COMMENTS

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  17. HEALTH SAFETY AND WELLBEING Factsheet

    Instructions 1. Understand your responsibilities Information on public health directions applying to employers is available at https://www.business.vic.gov.au/disputes-disasters-and-succession-planning/covid-safe-business/creating-a-covid-safe-workplace. You can also refer to the following guidance:

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    Divisions should review the COVID-19 Community Level for each of their facilities on a weekly basis, to determine any changes that should be made to the facility's COVID-19 workplace safety protocols for the upcoming week; for example, a Division could review the COVID-19 Community Level each Friday and implement any changes to COVID-19 ...

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    Safety alerts Coronavirus (COVID-19) Create your COVID-19 Safety Plan Create your COVID-19 Safety Plan Last Updated: 12 Sep 2023 9:54am This guide: will help you create your COVID-19 Safety Plan will make sure you have appropriate and effective controls in your workplace for reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission in your workplace.

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    Digital jobs could help to balance skill shortages in higher-income countries, while boosting opportunities for younger workers in lower-income countries: "If managed well, global digital jobs present an opportunity to utilize talent around the world, widening the talent pool available to employers and providing economic growth pathways to countries across the income spectrum."

  26. PDF COVID-19 Safety Plans

    Your COVID-19 Safety Plan will detail how you will reduce the risks of COVID-19 at your event. It is important when completing this template that you provide as much details as possible when describing how you intend to implement the various controls. The minimum standards for managing the risks of COVID-19 have been determined by Public Health.