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06.18.20

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Information and Guidance for the Workplace

This page lists COVID-19 information and appropriate precautions for workplaces where IFPTE members work, including guidance for U.S. federal government agencies, healthcare and frontline workers.

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NOTE: IFPTE's legislative advocacy and economic policy response to Coronavirus/COVID-19 can be found here


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While national and local government health agencies in the U.S. and Canada are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by continuing social distancing and expanding testing, some local governments are beginning phased, limited, and regulated reopenings of workplaces, public spaces and businesses, and government services.

Health experts have shown that there is a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission and infection in indoor settings, including office spaces, schools, and industrial worksites. Effective measures for controlling COVID-19 transmission and infection in these settings include providing necessary personal protective equipment to individuals as well as administrative controls (“change the way people work” and interact in a hazardous environment) and engineering controls (“isolate people from the hazard”): see the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety’s (NIOSH) Hierarchy of Controls for occupational hazards.

Health authorities continue to urge the public to cooperate, take recommended and required precautions, and help mitigate the impact in their communities and minimize the harm to the most vulnerable. While older adults and people with underlying medical conditions [CDC] are at higher risk of infection and death, the U.S. CDC has warned that "COVID-19 can result in severe disease among persons of all age” [Johns Hopkins Medicine].

Personal hygienic practices for minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission and infection are vitally important: see the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s COVID-19 page for general guidance that includes a list of practices to minimize exposure risks.

As the U.S. and Canada continue to be under federal pandemic emergency conditions, "social distancing" to limit the transmission of the virus remains a key strategy. Aggressive social distancing includes wide-scale implementation of telework and limited or no office and business occupancy, conducting public events and meetings remotely, suspending school and college classes, and limiting contact in public settings. See this factsheet on social distancing [PDF] from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

The U.S. CDC and the Public Health Agency of Canada are asking individuals to facemarks in pbulic settings where physical distancing is not possible and in instances where there is a higher risk COVID-19 transmission. State/provincial and local governments, as well as public transit agencies and places of public accommodations may also require individuals to wear facemasks for the sake of public safety.

NOTE:We encourage IFPTE members and locals to review the AFL-CIO's document that explains appropriate use and limitations of respirators, masks, and face shields [PDF]

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On this page:


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AFL-CIO and Canadian Labour Congress Resources on COVID-19




IFPTE Local Union Resources and Statements on COVID-19




Workers Rights to a Safe Workplace


Under Canadian and U.S. law all employers have a "general duty" to provide a safe workplace for their employees. This includes existing standards for workers rights and employer responsibility that protect workers from retaliation for raising concerns about workplace health and safety.



Unemployment, Health Care, Sick Leave, Family Leave, and Student Debt




For U.S. Federal Employees - Guidance on COVID-19




For Essential and Critical Service Employees, and Defense Industrial Base Employees - Guidance on CONVID-19




General Workplace Settings - Health and Safety Information




Healthcare and Frontline Settings - Health and Safety Information




Factsheets, Posters, and General Information




State and Provincial Public Health Resources and Response to COVID-19


In the U.S. and Canada, state and provincial governments have been at the forefront of the response to COVID-19 outbreaks and containment in local settings. For a comprehensive list of U.S. state government responses to COVID-19 can be found on the National Governors Association website.



Combating Xenophobic and Racist Responses to COVID-19


IFPTE joins with unions, public health agencies, and working people throughout Canada, the U.S., and the rest of the world in urging the public to reject any stigmatization, scapegoating, racism, or xenophobia towards any Asian populations and communities in the midst of the pandemic.

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NOTE: IFPTE's legislative advocacy and economic policy response to Coronavirus/COVID-19 can be found here


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