Updated September 2021: As the Delta variant continues to spread and account for the vast majority of new infections, and new variants continue to emerge, workplace COVID-19 infections will unfortunately continue to be a threat for the foreseeable future.
The exposure risks below continue to be valid and are a reminder of the importance of implementing and managing workplace exposure controls.
How At Risk Are Your Workers?
As the country opens back up and workers return to their jobs, it’s important to gauge where your employees fall in terms of risk level. Worker exposure risk when it comes to COVID-19 depends on a variety of factors. From the type of industry you work in to the level of human-to-human contact required in a typical work day, different variables can put your workers in categories ranging from lower risk to very high risk.
Before we go further, though, you should know that the majority of American workers fall in the low to medium risk category. Now, let’s take a look at what each of these different risk categories actually means.
Very High Exposure Risk
Most of the jobs that would place workers in this category involve specific medical or laboratory procedures that a vast majority of the workforce will be exempt from. Examples of these professions include, of course, healthcare workers, as well as scientists and researchers collecting specimens from potentially-infected patients in the pursuit of a vaccine.
High Exposure Risk
Medical transport workers and mortuary employees who have been around patients and/or bodies of victims who have succumb to COVID-19 fall into this category. Basically, this category includes anyone who may have been in the proximity of someone known to have the disease, but who might have avoided direct contact.
Medium Exposure Risk
At the medium exposure risk level, we see jobs that require physical contact. For instance, school employees, employees at heavily-trafficked retail locations, people who work in public transportation, etc. Really, any job that requires your presence in a densely-packed workplace.
Lower Exposure Risk
At the lowest level of the pyramid are those workers who can do their job remotely.
What does this all mean?
Although most workers remain at lower risk, CDC and OSHA strongly recommend that employers implement and manage an Infectious Disease Response Plan. To learn more about these requirements, click here.
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