Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on COVID-19

  • North Carolina Department of Labor FAQs (English) (Spanish)
  • Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) FAQs
  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC) FAQs
  • NC Government - Phase 3 FAQs


Hazard Overview

Hazard Overview

What is a coronavirus?

A coronavirus is named for the crown-like spikes on its surface that are apparent when the virus is viewed under extreme magnification. Human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s. There are four main sub-groupings of human coronaviruses: alpha, beta, gamma and delta. The gamma and delta coronaviruses do not cause known human disease.

The seven coronaviruses that infect humans, and which can be divided into two sets, are:

Common human coronaviruses:

  • HCoV-229E (alpha coronavirus)

  • HCoV-NL63 (alpha coronavirus)

  • HCoV-OC43 (beta coronavirus)

  • HCoV-HKU1 (beta coronavirus)

Some other human coronaviruses include:

  • MERS-CoV (beta coronavirus): causes MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome)2012

  • SARS-CoV (beta coronavirus): causes SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome)2003 (China)

  • 2019 nCoV (or SARS-CoV-2): novel coronavirus that causes coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19

What are the hazards associated with exposure to 2019 nCoV?

Some coronaviruses that infect animals can evolve and cause disease in humans. Previous examples include the coronaviruses that cause MERS and SARS. Because 2019 nCoV is a newly discovered virus, much is still being learned about its effects and modes of transmission. Although test kits are available for health departments and other health care facilities to facilitate identifying patients infected by 2019 nCoV, there is currently no vaccine available to prevent the development of the active disease COVID-19 following exposure to the virus.

Workers Who May Have Exposure Risk

Despite the low risk of exposure in most job sectors, some workers in the United States may have exposure to infectious people, including travelers who contracted COVID-19 abroad. Workers with increased exposure risk include those involved in:

  • Healthcare (including pre-hospital and medical transport workers, healthcare providers, long-term care workers, pharmacies, and support staff)

  • Dentistry

  • Emergency response and public safety

  • Postmortem care (including coroners, medical examiners and funeral directors)

  • Laboratories (clinical and research laboratory personnel)

  • Airline operations

  • Meat and poultry processing

  • Solid waste and wastewater management

  • Border protection and tranportation security

  • Correctional facilities

  • In-home repair

  • Retail operations

  • Environmental services (i.e., janitorial)

  • Business travelers




What can I do to protect myself and others?

Engineering, Administrative and Work Practice Controls.

  • Follow established work procedures for infection control. 
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid close contact with people that are sick.
  • Maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet from other people.
  • Wear a cloth face covering, especially when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Cover your mouth when you cough with a tissue or elbow, Throw tissue in trash, do not reuse.
  • Clean and disinfect work areas frequently. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. 
  • Employees who believe they are infected with 2019 nCoV are encouraged to self-quarantine at home to prevent infecting others.

Personal Protective Equipment. Employees in certain higher risk occupational settings are especially encouraged to use respirators that afford the level of protection of an N95 filtering facepiece respirator or better. Where respirator use is required, the employer must implement an effective respiratory protection program including, but not limited to, medical evaluation and fit testing.  In addition, use and properly maintain all provided personal protective equipment for work-related tasks having exposure(s).

What resources are available to assist employers?

Training and Outreach Services

Presentations on a variety of topics associated with exposure to 2019 nCoV are available to assist employers in training their staff. These include COVID-19 employee training (i.e., basic, construction, manufacturing, retail)bloodborne pathogens, hazard communication, respiratory protection and personal protective equipment. Each of these presentations should be modified to address site-specific conditions and hazards. 

The education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speakers bureau requests, safety booths) upon request. In addition, the following OSH pre-recorded webinars can assist with employee training: personal protective equipment for construction with a focus on COVID-19personal protective equipment for general industry with a focus on COVID-19respiratory protection with a focus on COVID-19,  N95 filtering facepiece respirator and COVID-19respiratory protection, bloodborne pathogens, and hazard communication.  

Federal OSHA also has videos available for training employees: respiratory protection training (Short online training videos on respirators in English and Spanish), putting on and taking off respirators (Spanish), higher risk jobs need extra protections to keep workers safe, quick safety tips for assembly lines (Spanish), and quick tips for delivery services (Spanish). Further, the Centers for Disease Control has videos on handwashing (English) (Spanish) and various other videos on COVID-19 (English) (Spanish). In addition, Oregon OSHA also has online training on COVID-19.

Lastly, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos (including ones on COVID-19) and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC).

Safety and Health Programs

Example safety and health programs are available for employers to download and adapt to their specific conditions. Safety and health programs relative to 2019 nCoV include COVID-19 preparedness and response plan for low and medium risk employers,  bloodborne pathogens exposure control plan, hazard communication program, personal protective hazard assessment and respiratory protection program.

A- Z Safety and Health Topics

More information related to the 2019 novel coronavirus can be found on the A-Z topics pages for hazard communication, personal protective equipment, bloodborne pathogens and respiratory protection.

Consultation Services

The consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.

Other Resources

COVID-19 Podcasts

COVID-19 Publications





Which standards apply?

The OSH Division has adopted the following standards which are, or may be, applicable to occupational exposure to the 2019 novel coronavirus in North Carolina. Note: Please also check the standards information and activity webpage to see if there has been any recent or upcoming regulatory activity on this topic. 

General Industry

Other Applicable Standards

The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to this topic.

Learn More

Learn More

Where can I learn more?

OSH Compliance Documents

OSH Fact Sheets

OSH Hazard/Guidance Alerts

Federal OSHA Resources

Centers for Disease Control Resources

United States Government Resources

N.C. State Government Resources

N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Resources

OSH Industry Guides

Technical Assistance

If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by email to or by calling 919-707-7876.



Guidance by Industry

Guidance by Industry

Industry Guidance


Airline operations

Automotive industry

  • OSHA Guidance on steps to protect automotive service workers from exposure to coronavirus (Spanish)



Beauty salons and barbershops

  • CDC Fact Sheets: What beauty salon and barbershop employees need to know about COVID-19
  • CDC Fact Sheets: COVID-19 employer information for beauty salons and barbershops

Border protection and transportation security

  • OSHA Guidance on border protection and transportation security

Business services (i.e., banks, notaries, title companies)

Business travelers

Childcare centers

Community settings 


Correctional and detention facilities

Day care and day camps


Emergency response and public safety

Entertainment venues (i.e., movie theatres, arcades, museums, wine tastings, bowling alleys, pool halls, batting cages)

Environmental services (i.e., janitorial)

Food pantries and food distribution sites

Food processing

Food trucks

Funeral homes

Gyms and workout facilities

Hair and nail salons

Handlers of service and therapy animals

Healthcare (including pre-hospital and medical transport workers, healthcare providers, and support staff)

In-home repair

Laboratories (clinical and research laboratory personnel)


Lodging (i.e., small hotels, bed and breakfast, inns)

Long-term care


Manufacturing industry

Meat and poultry processing



Office settings

Nursing homes

Oil and gas

  • OSHA Guidance for oil and gas industry workers and employers
  • CDC Guidance: What offshore oil and gas workers need to know about COVID-19
  • CDC Guidance: COVID-19 employer information for offshore oil and gas

Package delivery


  • CDC Guidance: COVID-19 employer information for paratransit operators 
  • CDC Guidance: What paratransit operators need to know about COVID-19

Parks and recreation


Physical therapy, occupational therapy, chiropractic and massage

  • AIHA: Reopening Guidance for physical therapy, occupational therapy, chiropractic and massage

Postmortem care (including coroners, medical examiners and funeral directors)

Public Health Inspectors

Restaurants, bars and beverage vendors

Retail operations

Retirement communities

Salons, parlors, massage and personal care

Schools and universities

Seafood processing


Shopping centers and malls

Solid waste and wastewater management

Sports programs and venues

Street vendors and food trucks

Tattoo parlors

Transportation, transit systems and delivery


  • CDC Guidance: What utility workers need to know about COVID-19
  • CDC Guidance: COVID-19 employer information for utility workers


Warehouse and logistics industry

Waste management and recycling

Worship and religious services

Guidance by Topic

Guidance by Topic

Guidance by Topic

Cleaning and disinfecting 

Contact tracing

Employee prevention and protection 

  • OSHA Guidance for preventing worker exposure to COVID-19 (Spanish)
  • OSHA Guidance on protecting workers during a pandemic
  • OSHA Guidance on COVID-19 control and prevention
  • CDC Guidance for managing workforce fatigue during COVID-19
  • CDC Guidance on implementing safety practices for critical infrastructure workers who may have had exposure to a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19
  • CDC Guidance for a communication plan for non-healthcare critical infrastructure employers

Engineering controls

  • AIHA: Reducing the risk of COVID-19 using engineering controls

Executive orders in North Carolina

Hazard recognition

Heat Stress

  • CDC Guidance: What workers need to know about heat stress prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • CDC Guidance: Employer information for heat stress prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic 

Preparing workplaces 

Reopening guidance

Respiratory protection (respirators, face coverings and masks)

Standards enforcement 

Test sites in North Carolina

  • NC DHHS, Division of Public Health: Test Sites