CDC and OSHA Issue Guidance for Sea Food Processors During the COVID-19 Pandemic
On June 24, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in consultation with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), issued safe practice guidelines (the “Guidelines”) for the seafood processing industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Guidelines are not intended to replace the general guidelines that OSHA, CDC, and FDA have previously issued and, in many instances, repeat and incorporate certain elements of them.
The Guidelines state that the work environment common to the industry, including work in close quarters and extended periods of contact, increase the risk of transmission of COVID-19. However, they reiterate that non-respiratory transmission (such as through contact with a seafood product), while theoretically possible, is unlikely. Echoing past guidance, the Guidelines urge seafood processors to create COVID-19 control plans that include (1) plans to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 into the workplace (including screening and monitoring of workers), (2) installing engineering controls (such as physical barriers and ventilation), (3) administrative controls to encourage social distancing and other best practices, and (4) providing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for any identified hazards that are not otherwise mitigated by the control plan. In guidance specific to the seafood processing industry, the Guidelines also suggest that offshore workers should quarantine for 14 days prior to their entry into a vessel and that offshore vessels should be prepared to disembark and/or treat workers who develop symptoms while at sea.
For coverage of previously issued COVID-19 guidance click here. Keller & Heckman will continue to monitor any updates regarding COVID-19 and its impact on the food industry.