On January 29, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued new guidance for employers on maintaining a safe and healthy workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the guidance, OSHA outlines several safe work practices designed to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The new guidance also adopts existing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including face masks, social distancing, and hygiene. Importantly, the new OSHA guidance advises employers to implement a COVID-19 Prevention Program with several newly delineated elements.
While not mandatory, the new OSHA guidance provides insight into the Emergency Temporary Standard expected on or before March 15, 2021. Employers will be required to comply with the safe work practices outlined in the Emergency Temporary Standard.
One key element of the COVID-19 Prevention Program is training and educating workers in accessible formats in a language they understand on:
The employer’s workplace policies and procedures to protect workers from COVID-19 hazards (e.g., employer’s COVID-19 Prevention Program).
Other important aspects of a COVID-19 Prevention Program include hazard assessments, controls to eliminate hazards, workplace coordinator, higher-risk workers, communication systems, isolation/quarantine requirements and minimizing the impact on workers, isolating workers with symptoms at the worksite, enhanced cleaning and disinfection, recording and reporting requirements, retaliation protections, and vaccinations.
We will continue to monitor and provide an update when OSHA issues the Emergency Temporary Standard expected on or before March 15, 2021.