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.


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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
  • Border protection and transportation security
  • Correctional facilities
  • Retail operations


What can I do to protect myself and others when transmission is on the rise?

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 The presentations on hazard communication, respiratory protection, bloodborne pathogens and personal protective equipment. Each of these presentations should be modified to address site-specific conditions and hazards. Other example presentations are available along with pre-recorded webinars which can be accessed at any time. 

In addition, the education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request. 

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

Safety and health programs relative to 2019 nCoV include blood pathogens exposure control plan (general industry), bloodborne pathogens exposure control plan (construction), hazard communication, respiratory protection, and PPE and hazard analysis. Other example safety and health programs are available for employers to download and adapt to their specific conditions. 

Safety and Health Topics

More information related to the 2019 novel coronavirus can be found on the safety and health topic pages for hazard communication, personal protective equipment, bloodborne pathogens, recording and reporting and respiratory protection.

Consultation Services

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




Which standards apply?

The OSH Division has adopted the following standards which are, or may be, applicable to occupational exposure to COVID-19 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


In addition, OSH has added the following state-specific rule to apply the bloodborne pathogens standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030, to construction:


  • 29 CFR Part 1904: recordkeeping
    • 29 CFR 1904.39: reporting fatalities, hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye as a result of work-related incidents to OSHA

General Duty Clause

  • NCGS 95-129(1): General Duty Clause, Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina

Other Applicable Standards

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

Where can I learn more?

OSH Compliance Documents

OSH Industry Guides

Technical Assistance

Inquiries about workplace safety and health requirements can be submitted to Ask OSH through the online form, by email to, or by phone at 919-707-7876.



How do I determine if a COVID-19 case is recordable?

Employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if all of the following requirements are met:

  • The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by the CDC;
  • The case is work-related, as defined by 29 CFR § 1904.5; and
  • The case involves one or more of the recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR § 1904.7 - General recording criteria (e.g., medical treatment, days away from work).

Note: For purposes of OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping, cases of COVID-19 are not considered a common cold or seasonal flu. The work-relatedness exception for the common cold or flu at 29 CFR § 1904.5(b)(2)(viii) - Determination of work-relatedness, does not apply to these cases.

What are the reporting requirements for a work-related fatality or in-patient hospitalization due to COVID-19?

The reporting requirements for COVID-19 related illnesses that result in hospitalizations or fatalities are covered under 1904.39 - Reporting fatalities, hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye as a result of work-related incidents to OSHA. Reference Reporting a Fatality or Injury.

More recordkeeping information can be found on the safety and health topic page for Recording and Reporting.