Washington, DC—The Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) recently issued guidance for retail pharmacies, incorporating many of the recommendations of the CDC. The document is one of a series of industry-specific alerts designed to help employers keep workers safe.

“In a retail pharmacy, the following tips can help reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus,” OSHA notes. Among the advice is encouraging workers who are sick to stay at home, installing clear plastic barriers between workers and customers at order/pickup counters and using signage and floor markers to keep waiting customers at least 6 feet from the counter, other customers, and pharmacy staff.

The agency also urges pharmacies to encourage drive-through or curbside pickup and home delivery, where possible, and to promote submitting prescriptions online or by phone. In addition, it suggests that customers be allowed to provide their insurance information verbally or virtually through mobile apps or the pharmacy’s website.

OHSA recommends that hours dedicated to vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, be designated.

Other recommendations include:
• Increase the use of self-serve checkout to minimize worker interaction with customers.
• Limit the number of customers allowed inside the facility at any point.
• Frequently clean and disinfect checkout and customer-service counters.
• Provide a place to wash hands and alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol.
• Allow workers to wear cloth face coverings or surgical masks over their nose and mouth to prevent them from spreading the virus.
• Provide gloves and eye and face protection, as necessary, for workers in the pharmacy.

The agency cautions, however, that pharmacists providing clinical services to patients, such as immunizations, might need additional protections.

The OSHA guidance did not include, however, a recent recommendation from the CDC: That everyone entering the pharmacy should wear a face covering, regardless of symptoms. The exceptions are that cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance, according to the advice.

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