Nevada’s Workplace Safety Agency Urges Employers to Address 2019 Novel Coronavirus Exposure Risk to Employees


Contact

Teri Williams
702-486-0407
Las Vegas, NV - February 13, 2020

The Division of Industrial Relations Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Safety Consultation and Training Section (SCATS) are urging businesses to assess the risk to and protect workers from exposure to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). For most people in the United States, including most types of workers, the current risk of infection with 2019-nCoV is low according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Employees working in industries that interact with potentially infected travelers from abroad including health care, laboratories, airline operations, and solid waste and wastewater management are at an increased risk for exposure. 

“Employers may create a plan for potential exposure incidents and take appropriate actions to protect their workers following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines,” said Jess Lankford, Nevada OSHA Chief Administrative Officer. The CDC is closely monitoring suspected cases of coronavirus infection and transmission.  Employers should monitor the latest reports for the most recent information and guidance on the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

Nevada OSHA recommends that all employers provide information and training to workers about signs and symptoms of an infection, how the virus is transmitted and encourage employees to practice proper handwashing techniques and avoid close contact with people who are sick. Employers and workers in industries where there is no specific exposure hazard should remain aware of the evolving situation and become familiar with additional precautions that may be warranted should changes in outbreak conditions occur.

In addition, employers in industries with a higher potential occupational exposure should identify and train employees about tasks and activities that may lead to exposure as well as methods (and limitations of those methods) to prevent or reduce exposure including engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices and the use of respiratory and personal protective equipment. In all workplaces where exposure may occur, training should also include information about how to isolate individuals with suspected or confirmed 2019-nCoV or other infectious diseases, and how to report possible cases. Comprehensive guidance for specific occupations and their employers can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration website at: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/novel_coronavirus/index.html.

Todd Schultz, SCATS Chief Administrative Officer stated, “Employee training on the coronavirus is vital, especially in high risk jobs.  Hospital and laboratory workers are at highest risk, but we must not forget other workers like hotel employees, housekeeping workers and airline and airport workers also face a higher risk of exposure. It is important to make time to review your workplace health and safety plans. The CDC and federal OSHA websites serve as essential resources that can assist you as you update your plan.”

About Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Nevada OSHA, part of Nevada’s Division of Industrial Relations, operates as an approved state program as defined by section 18 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and is required by the Act to operate in a manner that is at least as effective as the federal OSHA enforcement program.  Operating out of district offices in Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada OSHA conducts inspections and investigations intended to identify hazardous conditions which could harm Nevada’s workers and enforces state and federal laws protecting the state’s workers. From July 2018 – June 2019, Nevada OSHA conducted over 1,060 inspections, issuing an average of 1.4 serious violations per inspection. For more information visit http://dir.nv.gov/OSHA/home.

The Nevada State Plan, at the time of publication of this media release, is funded by a grant of $1,486,600 federal funds, which constitutes 50% of the State Plan budget. Fifty percent, or $1,486,600 of the State Plan budget, is financed through non-governmental sources.  

About Nevada Safety Consultation and Training Section (SCATS)

The Safety Consultation and Training Section (SCATS), part of Nevada Division of Industrial Relations, provides free and confidential consultation and safety services to assist businesses in Nevada to be in compliance with OSHA standards. SCATS’ top priority is to help Nevada businesses keep their employees safe and offers on-site consultation services designed to help employers recognize and control potential safety and health hazards at their workplaces, improve their safety and health programs, and assist in training employees. SCATS also offers Workplace Safety and Health Training classes in Northern and Southern Nevada. Bilingual services are also available. For more information visit: http://www.4safenv.state.nv.us/

At the time of initial publication of this press release, the Nevada on-site consultation program is funded by a cooperative agreement for $625,200 in federal funds, or 27.7% of the program budget. No program funding is received from non-governmental sources 

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