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How do we prioritize demands to PREVENT outbreaks?

This question is from a series of questions and answers on Worker Rights and Strategies for Staying Safe During COVID-19 created by National COSH to support workers during the pandemic.


Prevention measures can assure that workers DO NOT get sick in the first place. These should be part of all other demands, such as hazard pay and other benefits.
Workers should be included in the process of identifying workplace hazards and decisions on what are most effective controls and training.

Here are different examples of approaches to controlling hazards, starting with the most effective and going down the list to the least effective:

Eliminate the hazard:

  • Everyone works from home.
  • Paid sick leave for workers   with symptoms or who have been in contact with people with active COVID-19 infections.

Engineering Controls:

  • Maintenance and improvement of HVAC systems to improve air circulation and increase flow of fresh air
  • Working outdoors when possible instead of indoors.  
  • When indoors, working with doors and windows open. Barriers, such as plexiglass, to separate workers from one another and from public and outside visitors.

Administrative Controls:

  • Preventive and emergency plans, including contact tracing
  • Communications channels: how do workers get daily updates
  • Shorter and staggered shifts to reduce crowds and contact
  • Regular hand washing breaks
  • Limit the number of workers, public and outside visitors in the workspace
  • Daily sanitation, with disinfectant, of workspace, tools, and bathrooms,
  • Hand washing stations, with all necessary supplies, at all work locations and accessible to all workers.

Personal Protective Equipment:

  • Respirators (N95 and N100 or higher protection)
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Gowns  
  • Require masks for   all workers, public and outside visitors


  • Supplemental pay
  • Employer-paid testing and treatment