Plan for Social Distancing and Other Controls if H1N1 Severity Increases

If the severity of 2009 H1N1 increases, your employer should be planning to use other control measures to reduce close contact among coworkers and with others in the workplace. Not all of the following options can be used in every workplace or for every job task. The controls that your employer uses will depend on how the workplace is set up and what the job task involves. Workplace controls that you employer should be considering include the following:

  • Installing sneeze guards, and plexiglas or other barriers between you, coworkers, clients and the general public.
  • Setting up work and service areas to increase the distance between you, coworkers and clients.
  • Using the Internet, phone and drive-thru windows more for customer service.

    Cleaning Tips from OSHA


    • Clean your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
    • When using soap and water, rub soapy hands together for at least 20 seconds, rinse hands with water, and dry completely.
    • If soap and water are not available, use of an alcohol-based hand rub may be helpful as an interim measure until hand washing is possible. When using an alcohol-based hand rub, apply liquid to palm of hand, cover all surfaces of the hands with the liquid, and rub hands together until dry.
    • Keep frequently touched common surfaces (for example, telephones, computer equipment, etc.) clean.
    • Try not to use a coworker’s phone, desk, office, computer, or other work tools and equipment. If you must use a coworker’s equipment, consider cleaning it first with a disinfectant.
  • Avoiding close contact (within 6 feet) with coworkers and clients.
  • Minimizing face–to–face meetings; using virtual/remote meetings, emails, phones and text messaging. If meetings are unavoidable, minimizing close contact (within 6 feet) with others.
  • Limiting visitors to minimize contact between workers and the general public.
  • Discouraging hand shaking.

Be ready for school and daycare closures; make backup child care plans.

For more information, see OSHA’s Quick Card on How to Protect Yourself in the Workplace during a Pandemic and HHS/CDC’s Guidance for Business and Employers to Plan and Respond to the 2009-2010 Influenza Season.

This guidance is advisory in nature and informational in content. It is not a standard or regulation, and it neither creates new legal obligations nor alters existing obligations created by OSHA standards or the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Pursuant to the OSH Act, employers must comply with safety and health standards and regulations issued and enforced either by OSHA or by 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.

The mission of OSHA is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health.