COVID-19 UPDATE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE TO MEMBERS
- WHAT IS COVID -19
• Coronavirus is a group of viruses named for the way they look under a microscope (meaning crown).
• The novel (or new) coronavirus, identified in 2019 during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China, causes the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
• The first case of COVID-19 in the United States was reported on January 21, 2020.
• According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk of catching COVID-19 is higher for people who are in close contact with someone who already has the disease.
• The virus is thought to spread mainly through respiratory droplets (not truly airborne) produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
• It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
• OSHA states that without sustained human-to-human transmission, most American workers are not at significant risk of infection.
• Measures should include avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds on a regular basis throughout the day. Be sure to pay special attention to the area between your fingers, your finger nails and your thumbs.
• Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
• Wipe down surfaces with disinfectant; and sneeze or cough into your shoulder/arm or a tissue.
• Practice good housekeeping and minimize clutter where the virus could accumulate.
• OSHA requires that workers use appropriate engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent worker exposure for workplace hazards.
- GENERAL GUIDANCE
• Generally, management of waste and recycling material that is suspected or known to contain or be contaminated with COVID-19 does not require special precautions beyond those already used to protect workers from the hazards they encounter during their routine job tasks in solid waste.
• Simple personal sanitation precautions should continue to be followed during the collection and processing of waste materials. These precautions can provide effective protection when handling waste materials that could be contaminated with COVID-19.
- OSHA GUIDANCE
• Promote frequent and thorough hand washing by providing workers, customers, and worksite visitors with a place to wash their hands.
• If soap and running water are not immediately available, provide alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol.
• Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.
• Encourage respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.
• Maintain regular housekeeping practices, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, equipment, and other elements in the work environment.
• When choosing cleaning chemicals, employers should consult information on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved disinfectant labels with claims against emerging viral pathogens.
• Products with EPA approved emerging viral pathogens claims are expected to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 based on data for harder to kill viruses.
• Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use of all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method, contact time, PPE, etc.).
• OSHA’s Blood-borne Pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030) applies to occupational exposure to human blood and other potentially infectious materials that typically do not include respiratory secretions that may transmit SARS-CoV-2.
- OVERALL PREVENTION FOR WASTE & RECYCLING
• Prevent worker exposure to the waste streams (or types of wastes), including any contaminants in the materials, they manage. Such measures can help protect workers from sharps and other items that can cause injuries or exposures to infectious materials.
• Use engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and PPE, such as puncture-resistant gloves and face and eye protection, to prevent worker exposure to the waste streams (or types of wastes), including any contaminants in the materials, they manage. Such measures can help protect workers from sharps and other items that can cause injuries or exposures to infectious materials.
• As with municipal waste, employers and workers in the recycling industry should continue to use:
o engineering and administrative controls,
o safe work practices, and
o PPE, such as puncture-resistant gloves and face and eye protection, to prevent worker exposure to recyclable materials they manage, including any contaminants in the materials.
ROLE SPECIFIC GUIDANCE
- DRIVERS, HELPERS, SORTERS, AND POST-COLLECTION OPERATORS
• At beginning and end of shift, sanitize commonly touched items in the truck and heavy equipment (i.e., steering wheel, gear shifter, automated joystick, handles, tablets, etc.).
• Avoid human contact (including customers) during lunch, breaks and routes.
• Sanitize hands before and after using fueling station.
o Wipe down fueling station apparatus that you would touch.
• When working in groups, increase sanitization frequency to at least three times daily.
• Properly use all provided PPE (i.e., gloves, eye protection, etc.).
• Avoid congregation of more than 10 people, including at recycling centers.
- DISPATCH AND SCALE HOUSE OPERATORS
• Clean and disinfect hands hourly.
• Use radio-based communication to relay information.
• Do not share pens, pencils, phones, etc. with others.
• Sanitize your hands after handling driver phones, radios, keys, clipboards, tablets, etc.
• Additional Guidance for Scale House Operators:
o People may choose to wear nitrile gloves, but at this time there is no recommendation from OSHA. Change them at least three times per day. Nitrile gloves are best, but any disposable glove is better than nothing. Non-disposable gloves that can be washed daily are better than nothing. Gloves that cannot be washed daily should be avoided.
o Avoid touching face while wearing gloves.
o Clean and sanitize hands after removing gloves.
- MECHANICS AND TECHNICIANS
• Prior to servicing a vehicle, sanitize commonly touched items (i.e., steering wheel, gear shifter, automated joystick, door handle, etc.).
• Wear gloves at all times and sanitize hands before and after use of shared tools. Nitrile gloves are best, but any disposable glove is better than nothing.
• Non-disposable gloves that can be washed daily are better than nothing.
• Gloves that cannot be washed daily should be avoided.
• Management should have a specific procedure for employees to report to managers if they are feeling sick without coming to work and risking infecting other employees.
• Look for signs and symptoms related to sickness for all employees.
• Stagger safety meetings to ensure no more than 10 people are present at a time.
• Stagger start times of drivers to reduce crew-in/out size to no more than 10 people.
• Require multiple break areas to eliminate congregation of more than 10 people (for ex., sorters at a recycling center).
• Increase frequency of janitorial service to nightly and expand scope to a deeper cleaning.
• Ensure sanitation products are properly stocked and secured.
• IS IT SAFE FOR DRIVERS, HELPERS, OPERATORS AND SORTERS TO HANDLE MSW OR RECYCLING?
Yes. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are not calling for any additional steps to handle MSW or recycling.
Waste handling is not a disease pathway and has not been identified as needing any special precaution by the WHO or CDC.
Household waste is not considered regulated medical waste, even if the person in the home on your route has an infectious disease, such as COVID-19.
As with all handling of solid waste and recycling, caution and PPE should always be used. It is important to continue practicing the good hand washing hygiene habits that have kept you healthy on the job.
• WHAT IS CONSIDERED “GOOD” HAND WASHING HYGIENE?
Cleaning hands with soap and water is extremely important for at least 20 seconds. Remember your thumbs!
If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
When hands are visibly dirty, they should be washed with soap and water for at least 20−30 seconds.
Hand hygiene should be performed during at least these seven moments:
Before putting on PPE.
After removing PPE.
When changing gloves.
After coming into contact with waste.
After contact with any respiratory secretions (if you sneeze or cough, for example);
Before eating; and
After using the restroom.
• WHAT PPE OR WORK PRACTICES SHOULD DRIVERS, HELPERS, OPERATORS, SORTERS, ETC. BE FOLLOWING?
All employees handling any waste or recycling should be following the PPE requirements of their job. Always wear specified gloves for your job or task.
Customary work practices and precautions taken by employees (while using the correct PPE) will protect you from disease transmission.
COVID-19 is spread person-to-person through contact with and/or sharing surfaces contaminated by a sick person.
Employees should avoid contact and practice social distancing with other employees and the public. This includes shaking hands, hugging, and sharing food and drinks.
Practice good personal hygiene. Be sure to use disinfectant wipes whenever you share tools and equipment.
Remain calm and contact your healthcare provider if you have medical questions or have symptoms associated with COVID-19 (fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, and/or exhibited any other flu-like symptoms or respiratory issues).
You do not need to wear a face mask (sometimes called a surgical mask) or an N95 respirator unless you are caring for someone who is ill/sick with COVID-19.
Face masks and N95 respirators are in short supply and at this time they are being reserved for emergency responders, caregivers and other health care workers.
• OTHER RESOURCES
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