New OSHA Guidance for COVID-19
In response to the updated guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), which explains that fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except in limited situations, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) released updated guidance on mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace on June 10, 2021. This guidance focuses only on protecting unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers in their workplaces. This guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations.
According to OSHA’s guidance, except for workplace settings covered by OSHA's COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”) and mask requirements for public transportation, most employers no longer need to take steps to protect their workers from COVID-19 exposure in any workplace, or well-defined portions of a workplace, where all employees are fully vaccinated. Employers should still take steps to protect unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers in their workplaces, or well-defined portions of workplaces.
Employers should engage with workers and their representatives to determine how to implement multi-layered interventions to protect unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including:
- Grant paid time off for employees to get vaccinated.
- Instruct any workers who are infected, unvaccinated workers who have had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, and all workers with COVID-19 symptoms to stay home from work.
- Implement physical distancing for unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers in all communal work areas.
- Provide unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers with face coverings or surgical masks, unless their work task requires a respirator or other PPE.
- Educate and train workers on your COVID-19 policies and procedures using accessible formats and in the language they understand.
- Suggest that unvaccinated customers, visitors, or guests wear face coverings.
- Maintain Ventilation Systems.
- Perform routine cleaning and disinfection.
- Record and report COVID-19 infections and deaths:
- Implement protections from retaliation and set up an anonymous process for workers to voice concerns about COVID-19-related hazards.
- Follow other applicable mandatory OSHA standards.
The newly released guidance also provides guidance for higher-risk workplaces with mixed-vaccination status workers.
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