Preventing the Spread of Airborne Infectious Diseases

Date: August 25, 2020

Doug Sams, Risk Control Consultant

Individual best practices for on the job site

COVID-19 exposures aren't the only germs you need to worry about on your job sites. From the common cold to the flu, SARS, and more, airborne infectious diseases are in the air and can easily be spread. Without taking proper caution, these illnesses can affect several workers on a job site.

Both employers and employees share responsibility in preventing the spread of airborne infectious diseases on the job site. As the season begins to change, keeping yourself informed about how these diseases spread and how to prevent them can help keep you and your coworkers healthy.

How These Diseases Spread

Airborne diseases are thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. Since they travel through the air, it can be hard to control them. There are several ways these can spread.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
  • These droplets can land on objects nearby like tables, or possibly be on door handles, hand tools, etc. The disease transfers to the hands and is inhaled into the lungs when your hand touches your face.
  • In the case of COVID-19, the disease may be spread by people who are not showing any symptoms (asymptomatic).

As an employee, here's what the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends for you to do in order to prevent the spread of airborne infectious diseases on the job site.

If you're feeling sick, stay home

If you are experiencing any symptoms, it's important to stay home to prevent the spread of any possible illnesses. Take care of yourself by hydrating and getting plenty of rest. Monitor your symptoms.

Wash your hands often

While on the job site, you are likely to be exposed to germs. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Soap and water may not always be available on a job site. Keep hand sanitizer with you that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

Avoid close contact with others

Keeping distance between yourself and other people outside of your home can help prevent the spread of airborne infectious diseases. Stay at least 6 feet apart from other people.

Cover your mouth and nose when around others

Always cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze. When in a public place, a face cover should be worn to help prevent the spread of airborne diseases.

Clean and disinfect

Any surfaces that are touched daily need to be cleaned and disinfected frequently. Surfaces include tables, doorknobs, light switches, equipment, tools, handles, steering wheels, control knobs/levers, desks, phones, keyboards, keypads, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

Know and monitor your health

Inform your supervisor if you have one or more health conditions that could put you at a higher risk of severe illnesses. Health conditions could include: over the age of 65, chronic lung disease or asthma, serious heart problems, severe obesity (BMI > 40), diabetes, chronic kidney disease, chronic liver disease, or a compromised immune system.


For more information on airborne infectious diseases, visit these recommended sites.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

BITCO is proud of our longstanding commitment to protecting the health and safety of our employees and clients. We are here to support you. If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact your local BITCO Risk Control Consultant.

To see what additional resources and safety tips BITCO Insurance Companies can provide for its insureds, check out our website, subscribe to our blog, or speak with an agent today.

Find an Agent


Let's Talk

Looking for a long-term partner that works hard for you and your business? Contact a local BITCO agent today.