The CDC Issues COVID-19 Guidance for Seafood Processing Workers

The CDC, OSHA and FDA recently published an advisory for seafood processing workers and COVD-19 protections.

Seafood processing worksites (i.e., factories that are located in plants onshore and in vessels offshore) are very important factors of the food and drug industry—as they are responsible for the processing of fish for a number of foods and products. The CDC’s “Protecting Seafood Processing Workers from COVID-19” guidance gives guidance for protecting workers and provides related sources for workers and employers in the fish processing sector.

CDC’s Critical Infrastructure Guidance advises that “critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic, they have not had a positive test result for COVID-19, and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.”

The guidance recommends that all onshore and offshore seafood processing worksites developing plans to continue operations during the pandemic should:

  • Work directly with appropriate state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) public health officials and occupational safety and health professionals;
  • Incorporate relevant aspects of CDC guidance, including but not limited to this guidance and the CDC’s Critical Infrastructure Guidance; and
  • Incorporate guidance from other authoritative sources or regulatory bodies as needed.

The guidance is for seafood processing workers and employers. The guidance does not replace general guidances like:

Distinctive factors that affect workers’ risk for exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in seafood processing worksites include:

  • duration of contact
  • distance between workers
  • type of contact
  • communal housing and living quarters onboard vessels for seasonal workers

The guidance provides tips on various engineering and administrative controls you can take for your workers to better manage the possibility of an outbreak. It also discusses testing, screening and even managing workers who are sick.

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