Non-ETS Frequently Asked Questions
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 These materials may no longer represent current OSHA recommendations and guidance.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.
OSHA will be updating these FAQs to reflect the requirements of OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for Healthcare (29 CFR 1910.502). In the interim, employers with work settings covered by the ETS should consult the text of the rule and the FAQs on the ETS for information about the OSHA requirements applicable to those settings.
This page includes frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers related to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. In States with OSHA-approved State Plans, additional guidance, provisions, or requirements may apply. Check here for a list of current State Plans and a link to their website for any additional information: https://www.osha.gov/stateplans
Questions are grouped by topic, and cover:
- General Information
- Cleaning and Disinfection
- Cloth Face Coverings
- Employer Requirements
- Liability Waivers
- Posting the OSHA 300A or Equivalent Form
- Respirators and Particle Size
- Restrooms and Handwashing Facilities
- Return to Work
- Testing for COVID-19
- Vaccine Related
- Worker Protection Concerns
OSHA's COVID-19 Safety and Health Topics page provides a variety of resources to help workers protect themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
- Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace
- Worker Exposure Risk to COVID-19
- Information on workers' rights
- OSHA Alerts
OSHA's COVID-19 Safety and Health Topics page provides the most recent guidance to help employers protect their workers and comply with OSHA requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. Resources include:
- National Emphasis Program – Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- Temporary enforcement guidance in effect during the COVID-19 pandemic
- List of Worker Exposure Risk to COVID-19
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (Guidance) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued workplace guidance to guide employers during the COVID-19 outbreak. They describe how employers should develop preparedness plans and communicate those plans to protect workers through effective training. Employers should assess worker exposure to hazards and risks and implement infection prevention measures to reasonably address them consistent with OSHA Standards. Such measures could include use of cloth face coverings; training workers on proper respiratory etiquette, physical distancing, and other steps they can take to protect themselves.
Employers may need to consider using stanchions to help keep workers and others at the worksite at least 6 feet away from each other. Installing temporary barriers and shields and spacing out workstations can also help achieve physical distancing recommendations. Employers should clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (e.g., door handles, sink handles, workstations, restroom stalls) at least daily, or as much as possible. Employers subject to OSHA's PPE standard must also provide and require the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) when needed. Job hazard assessments must be conducted to determine the appropriate type and level of PPE required.
Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace provides more information on steps all employers can take to reduce workers' risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2.
Cleaning and Disinfection
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides updated information about cleaning and disinfecting public spaces, workplaces, businesses, schools, and homes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides information on environmental infection control related to cleaning and disinfecting healthcare facilities.
Companies providing specialized remediation or clean-up services need to have expertise in industrial hygiene and environmental remediation.
Cloth Face Coverings
- May be commercially produced or improvised (i.e., homemade).
- Are worn in public over the nose and mouth to contain the wearer's potentially infectious respiratory particles produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks and to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), to others.
- Are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Are not appropriate substitutes for PPE such as respirators (e.g., N95 respirators) or medical face masks (e.g., surgical masks) in workplaces where respirators or face masks are recommended or required to protect the wearer.
- May be used by almost any worker, although those who have trouble breathing or are otherwise unable to put on or remove a mask without assistance should not wear one.
- May be disposable or reusable after proper washing.
- Are typically cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as medical devices (though not all devices that look like surgical masks are actually medical-grade, cleared devices).
- Are used to protect workers against splashes and sprays (i.e., droplets) containing potentially infectious materials. In this capacity, surgical masks are considered PPE. Under OSHA's PPE standard (29 CFR 1910.132), employers must provide any necessary PPE at no-cost to workers.1
- May also be worn to contain the wearer's respiratory particles (e.g., healthcare workers, such as surgeons, wear them to avoid contaminating surgical sites, and dentists and dental hygienists wear them to protect patients).
- May be used by almost anyone.
- Should be properly disposed of after use.
Respirators (e.g., filtering facepieces):
- Are used to prevent workers from inhaling small particles, including airborne transmissible or aerosolized infectious agents.
- Must be provided and used in accordance with OSHA's Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134).
- Must be certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
- OSHA has temporarily exercised its enforcement discretion concerning supply shortages of disposable filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs), including as it relates to their extended use or reuse, use beyond their manufacturer's recommended shelf life, use of equipment from certain other countries and jurisdictions, and decontamination.
- Need proper filter material (e.g., N95 or better) and, other than for loose-fitting powered, air purifying respirators (PAPRs), tight fit (to prevent air leaks).
- Require proper training, fit testing, availability of appropriate medical evaluations and monitoring, cleaning, and oversight by a knowledgeable staff member.
- OSHA has temporarily exercised its enforcement discretion concerning annual fit testing requirements in the Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134), as long as employers have made good-faith efforts to comply with the requirements of the standard and to follow the steps outlined in the March 14, 2020, and April 8, 2020, memoranda (as applicable to their industry).
- When necessary to protect workers, require a respiratory protection program that is compliant with OSHA's Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134). OSHA consultation staff can assist with understanding respiratory protection requirements.
- FFRs may be used voluntarily, if permitted by the employer. If an employer permits voluntary use of FFRs, employees must receive the information contained in Appendix D of OSHA's Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134).
- Must be certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
1 If surgical masks are being used only as source control—not to protect workers against splashes and sprays (i.e., droplets) containing potentially infectious materials—OSHA's PPE standards do not require employers to provide them to workers. However, the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, requires each employer to furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm. Control measures may include a combination of engineering and administrative controls, including safe work practices like social distancing. Choosing to ensure use of surgical masks for source control may constitute a feasible means of abatement as part of a control plan designed to address hazards from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Back to Text
OSHA’s Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace advises employers to provide all workers with face coverings (i.e. cloth face coverings, surgical masks), unless their work task requires a respirator. Employers should provide face coverings to the workers at no cost. Employers must discuss the possibility of "reasonable accommodation" for any workers who are unable to wear or have difficulty wearing certain types of face coverings due to a disability. In workplaces with employees who are deaf or have hearing deficits, employers should consider acquiring masks with clear coverings over the mouth for all workers to facilitate lip-reading.
Cloth face coverings are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE) and are not intended to be used when workers need PPE for protection against exposure to occupational hazards. OSHA's PPE standards do not require employers to provide them.
- The General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, requires each employer to furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm. Control measures may include a combination of engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices like social distancing, and PPE.
Consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation for all people to wear cloth face coverings when in public and around other people, wearing cloth face coverings, if appropriate for the work environment and job tasks, conserves other types of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as surgical masks, for healthcare settings where such equipment is needed most.
Note that cloth face coverings are not considered PPE and cannot be used in place of respirators when respirators are otherwise required.
Learn more about cloth face coverings on the CDC website.
Employers should consider evaluating their accessible communication policies and procedures to factor in potentially providing masks with clear windows to facilitate interaction between employees and members of the public who need to lip-read to communicate.
Yes. Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing measures.
CDC provides guidance on washing face coverings. OSHA suggests following those recommendations, and always washing or discarding cloth face coverings that are visibly soiled.
No. Employers must not use surgical masks or cloth face coverings when respirators are needed.
In general, employers should always rely on a hierarchy of controls that first includes efforts to eliminate or substitute out workplace hazards and then uses engineering controls (e.g., ventilation, wet methods), administrative controls (e.g., written procedures, modification of task duration), and safe work practices to prevent worker exposures to respiratory hazards, before relying on personal protective equipment, such as respirators.
If respirators are needed but not available (including as described in the OSHA enforcement guidance noted above), and hazards cannot otherwise be adequately controlled through other elements of the hierarchy of controls (i.e., elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls, and/or safe work practices), avoid worker exposure to the hazard. Whenever a hazard presents an imminent danger, and in additional situations whenever feasible, the task should be delayed until feasible control measures are available to prevent exposures or reduce them to acceptable levels (i.e., at or below applicable OSHA permissible exposure limits).
No. Medical masks, including surgical masks, are routinely worn by healthcare workers throughout the day as part of their personal protective equipment (PPE) ensembles and do not compromise their oxygen levels or cause carbon dioxide buildup. They are designed to be breathed through and can protect against respiratory droplets, which are typically much larger than tiny carbon dioxide particles. Consequently, most carbon dioxide particles will either go through the mask or escape along the mask's loose-fitting perimeter. Some carbon dioxide might collect between the mask and the wearer's face, but not at unsafe levels.
Like medical masks, cloth face coverings are loose-fitting with no seal and are designed to be breathed through. In addition, workers may easily remove their medical masks or cloth face coverings periodically (and when not in close proximity with others) to eliminate any negligible build-up of carbon dioxide that might occur. Cloth face coverings and medical masks can help prevent the spread of potentially infectious respiratory droplets from the wearer to their co-workers, including when the wearer has COVID-19 and does not know it.
Some people have mistakenly claimed that OSHA standards (e.g., the Respiratory Protection standard, 29 CFR 1910.134; the Permit-Required Confined Space standard 29 CFR 1910.146; and the Air Contaminants standard, 29 CFR 1910.1000) apply to the issue of oxygen or carbon dioxide levels resulting from the use of medical masks or cloth face coverings in work settings with normal ambient air (e.g. healthcare settings, offices, retail settings, construction). These standards do not apply to the wearing of medical masks or cloth face coverings in work settings with normal ambient air). These standards would only apply to work settings where there are known or suspected sources of chemicals (e.g., manufacturing facilities) or workers are required to enter a potentially dangerous location (e.g., a large tank or vessel).
Since the CDC has determined that some cloth face coverings may both serve as source control and provide some personal protection to the wearer, will OSHA consider them to be personal protective equipment under 29 CFR 1910.132?
Not at this time.
The recent CDC scientific brief shows that some cloth face coverings have the potential to provide personal protective benefits. However, the CDC also noted that additional "research is needed to expand the evidence base for the protective effect of cloth masks and in particular to identify the combinations of materials that maximize both their blocking and filtering effectiveness." Factors such as design, construction, and fabric selection will have a substantial impact on the overall effectiveness of a face covering for personal protection. At this time, OSHA does not think enough information is available to determine whether a particular cloth face covering provides sufficient protection from the hazard of COVID-19 to be personal protective equipment under OSHA's standard (29 CFR 1910.132). OSHA has typically considered protective equipment designed and constructed to meet a recognized consensus standard to meet the requirements of its PPE standards.
No. All OSHA requirements for respiratory protection in construction that were in place before the COVID-19 pandemic remain in place. Under OSHA's Respiratory Protection standard for construction (29 CFR 1926.103), employers must follow 29 CFR 1910.134 the general industry respiratory protection standard. Similarly, employers must continue to follow requirements in other OSHA standards, including those that require respiratory protection to protect workers from exposures to certain chemicals and other hazardous substances.
All employers should conduct risk and hazard assessments for all types of workers and then create plans to address identified hazards. Employers can use OSHA's tools for hazard identification and assessment.
All OSHA standards remain in effect. However, OSHA understands employers are concerned about their ability to comply with certain requirements during the pandemic and is exercising temporary enforcement discretion for certain provisions of OSHA standards, such as those for initial or recurring training, audits, reviews, testing, and assessments.
For the most current information, visit the Standards page of the COVID-19 Safety and Health Topics page, which lists all enforcement discretion memoranda related to the pandemic. These memoranda also appear on OSHA's Enforcement Memos page.
Some industry-specific professional organizations have recommended suspending certain types of testing while there is ongoing community spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
OSHA is providing temporary enforcement discretion around the requirements of certain standards, including where OSHA standards require initial or recurring training, audits, reviews, testing, or assessments. More information is available in the COVID-19 enforcement guidance, provided on the Enforcement Memos page. Employers should regularly check the Standards page of OSHA's COVID-19 Safety and Health Topics page for updates on the status of these memoranda.
Nothing in a liability waiver prevents or precludes an employee's right to file a complaint under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The worker continues to have the right to file a safety or health complaint under section 8(f) and/or a retaliation complaint under section 11(c), regardless of any language contained in the waiver.
Posting the OSHA 300A or Equivalent Form
If you are required to keep OSHA injury and illness records, you must post the OSHA 300-A Summary of Work-related Injuries and Illnesses from February 1 through April 30 at your establishment in a conspicuous place or places where notices to employees are customarily posted.
Respirators and Particle Size
Yes, an N95 respirator is effective in protecting workers from the virus that causes COVID-19. "N95" refers to a class of respirator filter that removes at least 95% of very small (0.3 micron) particles from the air. Some people have mistakenly claimed that since the virus that causes COVID-19 is approximately 0.1 microns in size, wearing an N95 respirator will not protect against such a small virus. That mistaken claim appears to result from a misunderstanding of how respirators work.
When an infected person expels the virus into the air by activities like talking, coughing, or sneezing, the airborne particles are composed of more than just the virus. The virus is part of larger particles that are made up of water and other materials such as mucus. These larger particles are easily trapped and filtered out by N95 respirators because they are too big to pass through the filter. This is called mechanical filtration. But mechanical filtration is just one of the ways that respirator filters keep particles from passing through the filter. An electrostatic charge also attracts particles to fibers in the filter, where the particles become stuck. In addition, the smallest particles constantly move around (called "Brownian motion"), and are very likely to hit a filter fiber and stick to it.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) tests respirators using particles that simulate a 0.3 micron diameter because this size particle is most likely to pass through the filter. If worn correctly, the N95 respirator will filter out at least 95% of particles this size. An N95 respirator is more effective at filtering particles that are smaller or larger than 0.3 microns in size.
The N95 respirator filter, as is true for other NIOSH-approved respirators, is very effective at protecting people from the virus causing COVID-19. However, it is important for employers and workers to remember that the respirator only provides the expected protection when used correctly. Respirators, when required, must be used as part of a comprehensive, written respiratory protection program that meets the requirements of OSHA's Respiratory Protection standard. The program should include medical evaluations, training, and fit testing.
You may report a fatality or in-patient hospitalization using any one of the following:
- Call the nearest OSHA office;
- Call the OSHA 24-hour hotline at 1-800-321-6742 (OSHA); or
- By electronic submission, report online.
Be prepared to supply: Business name; name(s) of employee(s) affected; location and time of the incident; brief description of the incident; and contact person and phone number so that OSHA may follow-up with you (unless you wish to make the report anonymously).
Under 29 CFR 1904.39(b)(6), employers are only required to report in-patient hospitalizations to OSHA if the hospitalization "occurs within twenty-four (24) hours of the work-related incident." For cases of COVID-19, the term "incident" means an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in the workplace. Therefore, in order to be reportable, an in-patient hospitalization due to COVID-19 must occur within 24 hours of an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 at work. The employer must report such hospitalization within 24 hours of knowing both that the employee has been in-patient hospitalized and that the reason for the hospitalization was a work-related case of COVID-19. Thus, if an employer learns that an employee was in-patient hospitalized within 24 hours of a work-related incident, and determines afterward that the cause of the in-patient hospitalization was a work-related case of COVID-19, the case must be reported within 24 hours of that determination. See 29 CFR 1904.39(a)(2), (b)(7)-(b)(8).
Employers should note that 29 CFR 1904.39(b)(6)'s limitation only applies to reporting; employers who are required to keep OSHA injury and illness records must still record work-related confirmed cases of COVID-19, as required by 29 CFR 1904.4(a). For more information on recording cases of COVID-19, see https://www.osha.gov/memos/2020-05-19/revised-enforcement-guidance-recording-cases-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19.
Under 29 CFR 1904.39(b)(6), an employer must "report a fatality to OSHA if the fatality occurs within thirty (30) days of the work-related incident." For cases of COVID-19, the term "incident" means an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in the workplace. Therefore, in order to be reportable, a fatality due to COVID-19 must occur within 30 days of an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 at work. The employer must report the fatality within eight hours of knowing both that the employee has died, and that the cause of death was a work-related case of COVID-19. Thus, if an employer learns that an employee died within 30 days of a work-related incident, and determines afterward that the cause of the death was a work-related case of COVID-19, the case must be reported within eight hours of that determination.
Employers should note that 29 CFR 1904.39(b)(6)'s limitation only applies to reporting; employers who are required to keep OSHA injury and illness records must still record work-related fatalities, as required by 29 CFR 1904.4(a). For more information on recording cases of COVID-19, see https://www.osha.gov/memos/2020-05-19/revised-enforcement-guidance-recording-cases-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19.
Restrooms and Handwashing Facilities
I work as a delivery driver. Many shippers/receivers have changed their policies regarding driver access to their facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic and have forbidden use of their restrooms. Is there an OSHA requirement that shippers/receivers provide restrooms for truck drivers?
You should talk to your supervisor about alternatives for restroom breaks along your driving route.
Your employer (not the shipper/receiver) is required to make sure you do not suffer adverse health effects that could result from lack of access to a toilet. OSHA has sanitation standards (29 CFR 1910.141, 29 CFR 1926.51, 29 CFR 1928.110, 29 CFR 1915.88, and 29 CFR 1917.127) intended to ensure that workers do not suffer adverse health effects that can result if toilets are not sanitary and/or are not available when needed. However, some of these standards may not apply to mobile crews, or normally unattended work locations, so long as those locations have transportation immediately available to nearby toilet and sanitation facilities.
Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (29 USC 660(c)) prohibits employers from retaliating against workers for exercising a variety of rights guaranteed under the law, such as filing a safety or health complaint with OSHA, raising a health and safety concern with their employers, participating in an OSHA inspection, or reporting a work-related injury or illness. Additionally, OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the provisions of more than 20 industry-specific federal laws protecting employees from retaliation for raising or reporting concerns about hazards or violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, securities, and tax laws.
If you believe you have suffered such retaliation, submit a complaint to OSHA as soon as possible in order to ensure that you file the complaint within the legal time limits, some of which may be as short as 30 days from the date you learned of or experienced retaliation. An employee can file a complaint with OSHA by visiting or calling his or her local OSHA office; sending a written complaint via fax, mail, or email to the closest OSHA office; or filing a complaint online. No particular form is required and complaints may be submitted in any language.
Visit OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program website for more information.
Return to Work
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides guidance about the discontinuation of home isolation for people with COVID-19.
Testing for COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information about testing for COVID-19, including who should be tested and what actions to take based on test results.
Workers who test positive for COVID-19 will be notified of their results by their healthcare providers or public health department and will likely be advised to self-isolate or seek medical care. OSHA recommends that workers tell their supervisors if they have tested positive for COVID-19 so that employers can take steps, such as cleaning and disinfection, to protect other workers. Employers who become aware of a case among their workers should:
- Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for community-related exposure to someone with known or suspected COVID-19.
- Follow CDC recommendations for when employees can return to work after having COVID-19.
- Follow CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations to protect other employees.
OSHA does not require employers to notify other employees if one of their coworkers gets COVID-19. However, employers must take appropriate steps to protect other workers from exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the workplace. These steps might include specific actions as a result of a confirmed case, such as cleaning and disinfecting the work environment, notifying other workers to monitor themselves for signs/symptoms of COVID-19, or implementing a screening program in the workplace (e.g., for signs/symptoms of COVID-19 among workers).
The CDC Guidance for Business and Employers recommends employers determine which employees may have been exposed to the virus and inform employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. However, employers should maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the information disclosed and method of disclosure must comply with applicable federal, state, and local laws.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences offers training resources for workers and employers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides training resources specific to healthcare.
The training that is necessary can vary depending on a worker's job tasks, exposure risks, and the type of controls in place to protect workers. See OSHA's Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace for more specific information.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, employers should consider training workers about:
- The basics of how SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, spreads;
- Measures being taken to protect them from exposure and infection, including handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, social distancing, and use of any necessary workplace controls and/or personal protective equipment (PPE);
- What employees should do if they are sick, including staying home and reporting any signs/symptoms of COVID-19 to their supervisor.
Some OSHA standards require employers to provide specific training to workers. For example, there are training requirements in OSHA's PPE standards (29 CFR Part 1910, Subpart I), including the Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134).
The training that is necessary can vary depending on a worker's job tasks, exposure risks, and the type of controls implemented to protect workers. See OSHA's COVID-19 Safety and Health Topics page for more specific information.
Yes. Outreach trainers should contact their OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Center to request an exception. The OSHA Outreach Training Program provides workers with basic (10-hr) and more advanced (30-hr) training about common safety and health hazards on the job
Worker Protection Concerns
Under federal law, you are entitled to a safe workplace. Your employer must provide a workplace free of known health and safety hazards. If you have concerns, you have the right to speak up about them without fear of retaliation.
If you believe you are being exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, or that your employer is not taking appropriate steps to protect you from exposure to the virus at work, talk to your supervisor or employer about your concerns. OSHA provides recommendations for measures workers and employers can take to prevent exposures and infections.
You have the right to file a complaint if you feel you are being exposed to a serious health or safety hazard. If you have suffered retaliation because you voiced concerns about a health or safety hazard, you have the right to file a whistleblower protection complaint.
If you believe you have contracted COVID-19 on the job, OSHA recommends several steps you should take, including notifying your supervisor. Your employer can take actions that will keep others in your workplace healthy and may be able to offer you leave flexibilities while you are away from work.
Visit OSHA's Workers page to learn more.
Generally, your employer may require you to come to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, some government emergency orders may affect which businesses can remain open during the pandemic.
Under federal law, you are entitled to a safe workplace. Your employer must provide a safe and healthful workplace. If you have concerns, you have the right to speak up about them without fear of retaliation.
Under section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, a worker who refused to work would be protected from retaliation if:
- The worker believes that they faced death or serious injury (and the situation is so clearly hazardous that any reasonable person would believe the same thing);
- The worker tried, where possible, to get his or her employer to correct the condition, was unable to obtain a correction, and there is no other way to do the job safely; or
- The situation is so urgent that the worker does not have time to eliminate the hazard through regulatory channels, such as calling OSHA.
See 29 CFR 1977.12(b) for more information.
You have the right to file a complaint if you are required to work and believe you are being exposed to a serious health or safety hazard. If you have suffered retaliation because you voiced concerns about a health or safety hazard, you have the right to file a whistleblower protection complaint. No particular form is required and complaints may be submitted in any language.
Visit OSHA's Workers page to learn more.
If you believe that your health and safety are in danger, you (or your representative) have the right to file a confidential safety and health complaint with OSHA.
Employers should strive to maintain a sufficient supply of sanitation and hygiene products such as soap or hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to use when soap and water are not available. Handwashing is an important measure for staying safe. If your workplace is running low, speak to your supervisor about ensuring more is provided.
If soap is not available, CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Wear gloves, if needed. Don't touch your nose, mouth, eyes, face, or food with unwashed hands or while wearing gloves. OSHA's sanitation standards (29 CFR 1910.141, 29 CFR 1926.51, 29 CFR 1928.110, 29 CFR 1915.88, and 29 CFR 1917.127) are intended to ensure that workers do not suffer adverse health effects that can result if handwashing facilities and supplies and toilets are not sanitary or available when needed
My workplace does not typically use disinfectants to clean and disinfect our workplace but has implemented those practices in the wake of COVID-19. Are there any rules or guidance about using these types of chemicals (other than following the instructions on the product's label)?
Workers who clean the workplace must be protected from exposure to hazardous chemicals used in these tasks. Employers must conduct a hazard assessment and, based on the results, provide the appropriate protective equipment for using disinfectants and other chemicals. Employers may also need to implement a hazard communication program that provides safety data sheets, container labels, and training on the hazards of the chemicals in the workplace, in compliance with OSHA's Hazard Communication standard (29 CFR 1910.1200).
Additional information on disinfecting a building or facility during the COVID-19 pandemic and preparing your workplace for COVID-19 is available and will be updated as more information becomes available.
This guidance may not be applicable in State Plans. https://www.osha.gov/stateplans. This guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards. The recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content, and are intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to comply with safety and health standards and regulations promulgated by OSHA or by a state with an OSHA-approved state plan. In addition, the Act's General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1), requires employers to provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.