OSHA Updates Workplace Guidance for COVID-19

Published On
Aug 23, 2021

On August 13, OSHA issued updated guidance to help employers protect their workers from the coronavirus.

The updated guidance provides new and expanded information on appropriate measures that employers can take to protect workers in higher-risk workplaces where mixed-vaccination status workers are present, and where there is often prolonged close contact with other workers or nonworkers.

The new guidance reflects the most recent developments in science and data, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated COVID-19 guidance, which was issued July 27.

Here is a summary of the updated OSHA guidance:

  • It recommends that fully vaccinated employees working in areas with substantial or high community transmission wear masks to protect unvaccinated workers.
  • It recommends that if fully vaccinated workers have close contact with anyone that has coronavirus, they should wear masks for up to 14 days, unless they have a negative COVID-19 test at least three to five days after such contact.
  • It clarifies recommendations to protect unvaccinated and at-risk workers in some specific industries, such as manufacturing, meat and poultry processing, seafood processing and agricultural processing.

In its release, OSHA noted that it “continues to emphasize that vaccination is the optimal step to protect workers and encourages employers to engage with workers and their representatives to implement multi-layered approaches to protect unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers from the coronavirus.”

In addition, as part of OSHA’s ongoing commitment to reviewing the COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard every 30 days, the agency said that the safeguards set forth by the standard remain more important than ever. The agency added that it will continue to monitor and assess the need for changes in the healthcare ETS each month.

“Our priority is the safety and health of workers, and we will continue to enforce the law to ensure workers are protected from the virus while they are on the job, including through OSHA's National Emphasis Program on COVID,” the agency stated.

For details on the updated guidance, go to: https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/safework.

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