OSHA Issues Alert with Safety Tips for the Restaurant and Food and Beverages Industries

Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Seyfarth Synopsis: The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued an alert with safety tips for the restaurant and food and beverage industries to protect their workers from coronavirus exposure while they provide curbside pickup and takeout service to customers. The safety tips provide precautions to reduce the risk of employee exposure to the coronavirus.

The restaurant and food and beverage industries have, like many others, been significantly impacted by COVID-19 in several states, forcing many restaurant owners to scale back operations or shutter entirely. OSHA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have found that close and prolonged contact between employees on the job and during transportation to and from the worksite may be increasing workers’ risk for exposure to the virus.

OSHA recommends restaurants and other food and beverage businesses providing takeout or curbside service implement the following protective measures:

  • Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.
  • Reserve parking spaces near the front door for curbside pickup only;
  • Avoid direct hand-off of food or beverages when possible;
  • Display a door or sidewalk sign with the services available (e.g., take-out, curbside), instructions for pickup, and hours of operation;
  • Practice social distancing by maintaining 6 feet between co-workers and customers. Mark 6-foot distances with floor tape in pickup lines, encourage customers to pay ahead of time by phone or online, temporarily move workstations to create more distance and install plexiglass partitions, if feasible.
  • Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces and equipment with Environmental Protection Agency-approved cleaning chemicals from List N or that have label claims against the coronavirus.
  • Train and regularly remind workers in proper hygiene practices and the use of workplace controls.
  • Allow or, where mandatory, require workers to wear masks over their nose and mouth to prevent them from spreading the virus
  • Provide a place to wash hands and alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns.

It is also important to note that many state and local jurisdictions have put emergency orders in place that have require more stringent infection control measures than those recommended by OSHA and the CDC for essential employees on issues such as the use of cloth face coverings by employees and/or the public, social distancing, and pre-shift employee health screening.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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